What's your motivation?

by Jim Doyle

When it comes to running, fast runners get the headlines. The multiple marathon runners, the crazy distance runners who run hundred mile races, the triathlon athletes and the IronMan competitors. You can find all of these in the Second Wind Running Club. I admire them and am in awe of their accomplishments - which I know are beyond me. But we do have something in common – we all set goals / milestones. We all have something motivating us.

This is true for all runners, regardless of ability. The majority of us have no expectation that we will win a race. And it’s the rare race where I have any hope of even an age group award. Setting a new PR might be the most reasonable goal most of us can attain. It all begins with motivation, which is unique for each runner.

I got my motivation ten years ago, in the middle of the night, November 4th, 2008 when I realized I was having a heart attack. The cardiologist found five blockages in my heart and spent the rest of that night putting stents in my arteries to keep them open. I am the fourth of five siblings to have a heart procedure. You can’t outrun your genes, but diet and exercise took on a whole new significance in my life. Up till then, I had been a casual 5K runner, maybe one or two races a year, usually the Christie Run For The Health Of It and the Fourth of July race. I remember looking at the 10K runners at the Christie 5K/10K and thinking they had to be crazy to run that far. After the heart attack, I embraced running as the most time and energy efficient exercise for me. I started out small with alternating run/walks in my neighborhood. Run a little, walk a little. My friend, Tim Fritchley, gave me a Nike iPod sensor that tracked my steps, and suddenly I was hooked on recording my progress.

I’ve hit a lot of running milestones since then, and none of them are about speed or winning. I have great memories of my first 10k, first 15K, first half marathon, first full marathon. I am forever grateful to Mike Atkinson, my training group pace leader in 2013, the year I finished my only Illinois Marathon. A club like Second Wind does not exist without volunteers giving their time and energy to help others. But those are not the milestones that really matter to me. I’ve seen both of my children graduate from college, walked my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, and last month got to hold our first grandchild. I also had a triple bypass – a milestone, but certainly not a goal. After the bypass, I got a Comeback Award from Second Wind and a very nice speech from Amber Anderson. So many memories, that might not have been.

I’m closing in on my next milestone – 5000 running miles tracked in my running application since my heart attack. I have friends that can’t comprehend anyone running that much. On the other hand, I have running friends that probably log 2000 miles in a single year. I’m just a middle of the pack runner, out there with my own unique motivation. Just like you.

And that’s the beautiful thing about running. Every goal is unique, every runner defines their own success. If all goes according to plan, I expect to hit 5000 Nike running miles at the Rattlesnake Master on November 4th 2018, the tenth anniversary of a life changing experience. Hope to see you there.

This article was published in the Fall 2018 issue of In Passing.