What motivates me to run every day? As I write this, I am due to go out and run 17 miles as my final long run pre marathon. I feel a little light headed. Is is psychological? Am I dehydrated? Am I a hypochondriac? The doubts and fears creep in.
It was easier when I started running because there were more extrinsic drivers at play. The bad angel was hushed by telling myself that I had to get out there as people were sponsoring me for charity or a friend was relying on me to accompany them on a long run.
But this one's just for me. So it's more difficult because it's an internal journey and, in some respects, that means there's more to lose. No rewards if I miss my PB. Noone cares if I get my nutrition wrong or miss a couple of training sessions. The only person I'm letting down is me.
It's a very individual journey and very similar to being on a tennis court. This reflection has made me more empathetic to the children that I coach. How do they keep going when they're 4-0 down in the second set after losing the first? How do they maintain intensity in a training session when they have had a hard day at school? What inspires them to get up at 6 am in the morning to practise 7-815 am before school?
A lot of a participant's motivation for attending coaching or training can be attributed to the enthusiasm and energy of the coach. (And there is no excuse for a coach not giving 100% every session). But a coach isn't there when you're 4-0 down in the second set or you reach 20 miles in a marathon. There is only you. What do you want to see in that mirror?
The reflection that I am faced with in moments like this is what motivates me to run every day. I want to be able to look at myself and say that I did my best. This is what I wish for in the players that I coach and what makes my job such a privilege. If you can guide young people into preparing to cope as well as they can when the chips are down and still give their best, then you have entered into a territory that transcends sport into what it means to be a human being.
'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.'