I am embarrassingly competitive. There've been times when I need to check myself and reframe my thinking. Take our recent race for example. We were registered to run a half marathon in the bitter cold in Edmonton. What inspired me to register in the first place? Probably the same reason many runners sign up for a challenging race; the need to prove to myself that I was ambitious, tough, and could really embrace any type of weather. As soon as I submitted our registration, I started to think about how I could get a PR, my training plan, and checked out my competition on the Registered Racers list. Closer to the day of the race, Silvain and I both transferred to the 10 km distance because we were excited about supporting our youth friend, Aidan, in his race. This change didn’t downplay my goals.
Then my stubborn injury came along. I call it a stubborn injury not because it won’t go away, but because I was stubborn and didn’t want to stop running when I knew that my ankle wasn't right. By race day my ankle was so bad that a 100 m jaunt in the hallway was enough to leave my ankle throbbing for the rest of the morning. While it should've felt wonderful to relax in a heated clubhouse on a comfy chair watching the Olympics, it felt the opposite. I was angry at myself for not listening to my body and for not training properly, and I was also angry at myself for being so frustrated about being on the sidelines. Yet, I pushed myself to reframe my thinking and snap out of my woe-is-me mode; I needed to support my husband in his shining moment.
What a great moment it was! Silvain kicked butt in the race. I was so proud of him. He's oozing with potential, and he demonstrated what he was made of in that race that cold morning.
Because we run together, we get to share the experiences that running offers together, the joys and the sorrows. As Michelle's recounted, we got to share my happiness and in her sadness. Of course, it was easy for me to celebrate in my fast race. I might’ve even been in shock! As a testament to Michelle’s support and love, she found it really easy to celebrate with me. It was a bit harder for me to be with her in her frustration and grief, even if just for the simple reason that joy's easier than sorrow for anyone, so of course it was hard for us for Michelle to not race.
The longer we’ve been married, the better we are at being in each other’s pains. It gets easier and easier. Because we share them, the whole losses are diluted between the two of us, more and more each time. I’m so grateful for Michelle’s support in my life and in my running. The most loving way that I can thank her is in reciprocating with what she needs.
Support is so vital to energizing our running. Whether it’s your running spouse, partner, group, or community, be with them through thick and thin. In doing that, valuable skills and wisdom will be learned for the other relationships in our lives.
Sometimes the best thing to do when one feels unmotivated is to start over. Not necessarily right from the beginning, but more like approaching the problem from a different angle. If it’s not working, maybe it’s because the way in which one is trying to get something done isn’t the best way specific to the individual. (One does have to confirm that laziness isn’t a factor, though!) I do believe that if one knows that he or she is to put motion to something, then there’s a solution to the problem. So, I’m scraping my last attempt at this post on getting things done and starting from a different plan of attack.
Sometimes, I get tunnel vision and find it very difficult to think outside of the box. Having people to bounce ideas off of and to be creative with is so important. I see this in action really well when I’m climbing and running. My wife, my climbing partner, and my friends all help me stay motivated and moving forward.
Michelle is a great coach and supporter, and that alone is motivating. There’s nothing more propelling than someone cheering me on. Not only that, but she knows my ups and downs and so tactfully and lovingly pushes me when things are tough. My climbing partner aids in many ways. Quintessentially, my belayer motivates me by pointing out solutions to the climbing problem and incites me on, sometimes yelling. Friends who share or are excited about my activities are valuable in their own way. If they show an interest and ask questions, that’s already an energizer. People are a vital source of energy.
Motivation does come from inside of us, and it’s also found outside of us. Whether it’s people, nature, God, or even just necessity; we work on tasks and goals spurred on and supported by ourselves and, thankfully, others.
Being newly married, Silvain and I are recently learning how our motivation differs. While I am driven by routines and structure, Silvain takes time to process and makes well-thought out decisions. For me, I find comfort in plans, regular activity, and keeping busy. I’m pushed by data, competition, and the fear of being left behind.
A few years ago two of my friends decided that a cold October day would be perfect for hiking Hayden Ridge, a mountain near our town. My first reaction was, “I have chills just thinking about it and this event was not in my weekend plans.” Two minutes later I found myself dressing in layers, packing a thermos of tea, and making sure I had extra hand warmers. The day went something like this: I froze, we got lost for part of it, and my body and mind were exhausted. Yet, I have no regrets, and I would go again in an instant.
I recently heard a psychologist speak of the idea of how flow is the prime ingredient of human happiness. It happens when what we are doing is internally exciting. I love being caught in the moment doing what I love, oblivious to what the rest of the world is doing. This can’t be forced, but I believe that my motivation can drive me to get into the flow and make lifelong memories.
This gets me thinking: should we try to improve our motivation? Do we feel down on ourselves when we aren’t as motivated as others? How do we find a balance between being motivated and overdoing it?
Silvain has taught me to be a thinker, to process my decisions, and to say “no” when I am on the verge of burning out. I have learnt that it is okay to be behind in something and it is okay to just relax and have a lazy day. I no longer compare myself to others in terms of motivation and drive. I am confident in myself, my abilities, and my goals. With Silvain on my team I feel we can achieve our goals, find flow, and push ourselves to be our very best!
I like running in the bush and on the trails. (This is Silvain!) It’s so much less boring than asphalt. Trail terrain is way more interesting than the road. I like the different types of snow and different slides of mud. There are things to see, like leaves and flowers and bark! Each time I run a trail, a little bit more of the season has progressed. Nature, especially where there are four seasons, doesn’t stay static. I haven’t spent enough time in the tropics to know its equatorial nuances. But for sure here in Canada, there’s always something new. It’s neat to notice the first leaf turning fall and to hear the first robin.
I’m not alone in liking the woods and in being in the trees, and not just humankind. Sometimes, I know that I’m only steps behind a spooked deer, per the fresh tracks. Running game trails satisfies my curious, inquisitive mind, keeping it from getting bored. It’s so cool how they know the best way through the forest, even across that gully and around the treefall mess that might seem like too much work at first glance.
And, it’s quiet!
I’m learning quickly that I am fighting a losing battle (Michelle). Recently, I’ve come across three separate magazine articles promoting the benefits of trail running. And while the softer surfaces may be good for my feet, the scenery good for my soul, and the uneven terrain may help improve my agility; I love road running!
Road running is freeing. I can let my body go and let my legs just fly. My worries get tossed, and my head becomes clear. I can predict the terrain and can sustain a fast-paced run without much extra thought. I love feeling light on my feet and agile on my toes, not a care in the world. I don’t have to worry about ramming my head on a stray tree trunk, tripping over roots, or getting lost on a rogue trail - I can just GO.
Trails are for hiking, for exploring, and for reflecting. As many people know, I am very competitive and love data. I love to see improvements in my pace times, distances, and overall running ability. I continually strive to PR in races and dream of being on the podium one day.
Silvain brags of seeing flowers, leaves, and bark while he runs along a trail; well, I can proudly say that I too spot flowers, leaves (of many varieties), bark, and even a deer or two while cruising down a snow-covered road! What I get that he doesn’t is a clear mind! I don’t have to worry about anything. And, there are street lights, so that I don’t need to wear an uncomfortable headlamp on an early morning run. (Headlamps are nerdy.)
Wanna join our debate? Trails or roads?
Who We Are
Hi! We're Michelle and Silvain: a married, Christian couple that's always seeking to learn, explore, and take on new challenges. Our adventures take us up mountains, down trails, and to faraway places. Follow us as we live, love, and are crazy! Forever!!