This week’s post will discuss Ultra Mindset principle number 3, “Find Your Carrot.” If you haven’t had a chance yet, go back and read principle #1 and principle #2. When I talk to people about my training and racing, I often hear them say things like, “I don’t know how you do it” or “I could never do that.” I usually go on to tell them that it doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process that builds upon itself, and that anyone truly could do it with the right amount of dedication and motivation. This week’s principle focusses on that last part: motivation.
It’s easy to be motivated in the short term. You hear an inspiring story, tell yourself you want to be like that person (Principle #2), then you go out and do something the next day. That’s great. But what do you do for the long term? How do you keep that drive and determination going to truly achieve long term success and happiness? You need to find that carrot that motivates you to keep doing what you are doing and continue down the path to success.
Carrots can come in many forms. A simple one for racing of any distance is paying an entry fee early. Not only is it usually cheaper to pay for a race ahead of time, it can also serve as a motivating factor to keep getting out the door and training. That money is spent. There are no refunds. Unless you like throwing money down the drain, you might as well keep training for your race. When I was younger, and just starting out in the road racing scene, I would always pay for entry fees as early as possible. The morning of my first 10k, I woke up sick as a dog and missed the race. I told myself I would never prepay for an entry fee again. I would rather spend a little extra money the day of the race than risk losing a proportionately larger amount due to unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances. This worked out ok for several years until I started dipping my toe into the marathon/ultramarathon scene. Day of registration is not really a thing in that world. You must prepay to race. While I wasn’t thrilled about this, I quickly saw the value in it from a training standpoint. On those mornings where I’d wake up and struggle to get out the door, I’d tell myself, “You paid $100 for this race, you better be ready for it on race day. Get out the door Robert.” Money is quite the motivator, especially when it is already out of your wallet.
Carrots don’t have to have physical value. A carrot can be that sweet finisher medal that you want to hang from your wall to display your accomplishment. A carrot can be that mileage sticker you want to put on the back of your car to let everyone know you achieved your goal. Maybe running a marathon has been on your bucket list. Maybe it’s time to start crossing some things off that list you’ve said you will get around to someday. Maybe you just want to live a healthier life. Maybe you want to beat your friend or running rival at the next race. Personally, my carrot is finding new limits my body can reach in the form of running greater distances. I want to see what I can do physically and mentally. The thought of a 100 mile race scares me but I know it’s something I want to do someday. How do I get there though? Progressively through longer races. I’ve run 50 miles. Next on my list is a 100k. I’m not quite there yet, but I will be. I’ve got some tough 50k races lined up that I want to tackle first. Then I’ll move on to more 50 milers. Then a 100k. If all goes to plan, the next step is 100 miles. I’ve got my eye on that triple digit distance and it is keeping me motivated and driven to keep on trucking towards it.
You are in charge of your own motivation. Only you can define what it is that motivates you and keeps you aligned on the path to success. It doesn’t matter what it is that you choose to have as a carrot. The important part is that you find one that works for you and allow it to fuel your mind, body, and soul.