Hope the training is going well. As I’m writing this, the Kepler is 74 days away!
For me, this 10.5 weeks away feels like both a TON of time and no time at all: it’s far enough away that I’m not panicked at the idea of skipping a long run to go skiing, but close enough that as I’m riding the chairlift up the mountain my mind occasionally wanders to the definitive lack of chairlifts to take me up Luxmore.
So given how far away the Kepler might still feel, how does one stay motivated to slog through hours and hours of running? This becomes especially difficult given a general tendency for it to rain whenever I’m hoping to get lots of miles in.
I mentioned last blog that I’m doing a master’s in Philosophy at Otago. Although I don’t think Kant was a runner, I do think one of his distinctions helps me make it out the door when the Dunedin rain is relentless.
Basically, Kant says that there is a difference between actions that are ‘beautiful’ and actions that are ‘moral.’ A beautiful action is one that is the right one to do, but we’d do it anyway. A parent feeding their child doesn’t do so merely because it is considered something correct. A moral action, on the other hand, is one we don’t really want to perform, but we do because we think it is right. Something like visiting a nasty relative in the hospital.
I like to think about making my running as beautiful as possible. That is, I try to make training for the Kepler something I’d do anyway, even if someone told me today that the race will end up being cancelled due to more weather.
This involves little things, things that make it easy to lace up my sneakers. Like, for example, actually having sneakers--I keep them, and running clothes (oftentimes unwashed) in my car at all times. I also trying to schedule running with friends whenever possible to stay accountable. I’m lucky enough to be in a city with endless trails, so I try to pick a new section to explore as often as I can. Yesterday I ended up here:
But I also think making running beautiful, making training something you don’t force yourself to do, has a lot to do with your frame of mind. Realistically, running for 6 hours isn’t something one ‘naturally’ does--it’s not quite as easy as a parent feeding their toddler. For me, I take the pain of a long run as an opportunity to be in a mental and physical space that not many experience--it’s kind of like a long, arduous, and beautiful vacation.
I was curious, though, as to how other runners make training beautiful, how they stay motivated. So I asked some folks running the Kepler this year. Here’s what they had to say:
Gwen Alexander, an accomplished ultrarunner and first time Kepler participant says:
“That question assumes I'm actually motivated! I’m lucky enough to live in the Waitakere’s in Auckland - so my runs are always offroad, great trails/bush/beaches. I always think how lucky I am to be there. I’d be lying if there isn't a part of me that thinks its pretty special to be able to chuck on shoes and nip out for a 20k run without any planning or prep. It's amazing how your body adapts and what becomes 'normal.’”
When I asked Sean Moynihan, a first time Kepler runner sponsored by Air NZ, to describe what he thinks about during training, I got this:
“What don’t I think about! Bills, mortgages, holidays, my family, what I will do with my Lotto winnings, but mostly I think about the world's problems, and if my run is long enough and going well I seem to solve most of them, to my satisfaction at least.”
I also asked a Dunedin running buddy, Jackie Foster, who has completed a number of NZ trail marathons and is running Kepler for the first time. She has a unique motivation to train:
“Last year I did the Luxmore Grunt and my nana died the same day, so I told myself I had to come back the next year and run the whole thing for her.”
The lesson from these various responses, I think, is that we all have reasons to get out and run that don’t involve our success at Kepler. It’s pretty easy to skip a long run if the race itself is your only motivation: one lazy Sunday probably won’t have a huge affect on your time. But, if you add all these other motivations into the mix--solving the world’s problems, remembering your nana, realizing how lucky you are to be fit and live in an amazing place, or recalling upcoming bills--running, I think, becomes a bit more beautiful.