In this picture, I had just finished running a 10k, 400 meters, a mile, and marathon for a total of 33 miles of hard running all on one day.
The people who greeted me at the finish line made the day complete in many meaningful ways. It is a day I will cherish for something much more important to me than winning the race.
Meaningful Motivation Matters
When asked how I won one of the toughest races in the world, my response is more about motivation and mental preparation than physical preparation, although you need all three.
You can't just will yourself to win. You must put in the hard and smart work daily to get to the starting line. However, meaningful motivation is the fuel that brings you across the finish line each day.
While I was prepared physically like never before for the Original Ultimate Runner Competition (10k, 400 meters, 100 meters, a mile, and marathon all ran on the same day), I was just as importantly getting ready on the motivation and mental side of my training.
The physical side of things, the mental aspects, and the motivation of training and racing must come together on all cylinders when going after your God-given potential.
How does one prepare mentally to run a 10k, 400 meters, 100 meters, a mile, and marathon on the same day, especially when you have never run a marathon before?
The answer to that question continues to help me today as I help others identify what motivates them, develop grit, and improve mental toughness.
Mental toughness and its close cousins, grit, perseverance, resiliency, and many other similar words, describe what you need to succeed, especially on race day. And your unique motivation that day is the engine that drives all of these traits.
Without meaningful motivation, the words grit, perseverance, and resiliency don't reach their potential in your life.
I think about the story of the person who helps lift the car off their son to save his life in a crisis. This is an extreme example of what I am talking about, but it illustrates there is more inside of a person than typically meets the eye.
Our unique motivation helps us push through the barriers to our goals when the going gets tough.
One size fits all thinking in the mental realm does not work long-term, just like giving the same generic physical training workouts to all runners won't work well over the long run. We must have unique motivations in the mental realm that carry us to the finish line.
All anyone else can do to help us find our meaningful motivations is point the way. No one can precisely tell us the reasons behind what we try to accomplish daily.
We have to determine those reasons ourselves. However, it is worth sharing examples about how others found meaningful motivation if it helps just one person find more inner strength.
I have never shared one of my primary motivators for running in the Original Ultimate Runner Competition before because it is hard to communicate the impacts this reason had on me during the competition. Not wanting to let one person down drove much of what happened that day.
I hope the example resonates with a person or two to help them find their meaningful motivations for not just running but for other much more important aspects of life.
Identifying Your Meaningful Motivation
Run for a mission more significant than yourself. This is the key that unlocks the meaningful motivation door. Sincerely dedicate what you do daily to something more meaningful than your accomplishment.
When I ran the Original Ultimate Runner Competition, some important relatives came to watch the race. One person in the group had Cystic Fibrosis. At the time, the life expectancy for someone with Cystic Fibrosis was their late teens or early 20s.
The person with Cystic Fibrosis who came to watch me race was nearing the dreaded 20s age range. You could not meet a more likable person than her in life. However, there was not much time left in life for this amazing young lady.
She came specifically to watch me run In the Original Ultimate Runner Competition and was excited to be there that day. She was very proud of me for whatever reason and wanted to show her support by coming to my race.
Having this person at the race and her immediate family gave me the extra inspiration to run for a lot more than for myself that day. It meant the world to me that this young person came to watch me run. I did not want to let her down on race day. I knew that doing well in this race would bring joy to this young lady's heart.
I ran hard that day for the above reasons, with a mission much more significant than myself. I could run, work hard, and breathe normally. This person could not. I was not going to let her down that day. She was so proud that I was a part of her family circle and could run well.
I left nothing at the finish line when I crossed the finish line that day and had the best race of my life. I ran over my head. Winning the race was much, much secondary to seeing the person who came to watch me smile and receive a hug from her and her family at the end of the race.
The smile on this young lady's face after I finished the race still means more to me today than winning the ultimate runner race decades later. She passed from this life years ago, but that smile and joy on her face that day remains locked in the memory of my heart.
Find Your Meaningful Motivation
The person who finds their unique and meaningful motivation in running, and much more importantly, in mission-critical areas of life, can help and serve others in ways far more significant than winning any race.
Find your meaningful motivation for running, working out, and racing. More importantly, use this life lesson from running to find inspiration for your unique purpose and other gifts in life.
Why? Because meaningful motivation ultimately has the potential to become love in action and help people more than you'll ever know.
One hug, one smile, from someone you care about, is sometimes the only motivation you'll ever need.