The earliest definition of passion was created to describe the suffering of Christ. It can also be defined as an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling of conviction. It can also be used to describe love.
As active people and athletes, we can attest that suffering, emotion, and love are all closely intertwined. The races that have been the most rewarding and thrilling for me have also caused me great suffering. However, it is these emotions that make us feel the most alive. I think it is beneficial to define what drives you toward your goal and to define what keeps your passion high, so instead of making New Year's Resolution lists, maybe we should be making Passion Lists. Here is my Passion List.
1. Running in the Woods
My favorite place to run is a forest in Maryland just down the road a bit from where I grew up. The wooded glen consists of tall oak trees and trails that twist and turn. I have been running in these woods since I was a young girl and it is the first place I like to go when I go back home for a visit. I have witnessed these woods at all seasons. They are colorful in the fall, green and budding in the spring, humid in the summer, and brilliantly white and snowy at times in winter. Running in the woods will always be exciting for me.
2. Lending a Hand
After I’ve finished a race, I love returning to the one-mile-to-go mark on the course. This is the best place to cheer the other athletes on and witness their die-hard passion. I find that racers will often pick up the pace and smile as they hear my cheers. It is such a rewarding way to end an event.
3. Celebrating Good Times
My husband and I have developed a tradition of going to the Galaxy Café after our weekend long runs. We love to reward ourselves with a delicious breakfast and, often times, we waste no time in changing out of our sweaty workout gear (lucky Galaxy Café diners!). I often think about these breakfasts in the last hard miles of my runs, and the thought of this meal helps me get out of bed when it is dark and I have many miles of road to eat up first!
4. Embracing a Cause
This past summer I ran the Quebec City marathon in honor of Riley, a young girl who has been struggling with health issues for many years. We distributed bands that were inscribed with her name to the other racers there and had a medal ceremony for Riley here in Austin when I returned home. The hot summer training took on an entirely new meaning for me as I thought about this little girl, who was unable to run even one mile. It was so nice to be training and racing for a cause that was greater than myself.
5. Finding Positive People
One of my childhood sport idols, Jackie Joyner Kersee, shared her secret to success: "Surround yourself with positive people." I will never forget those words and they have served me well. Running with Gilbert's Gazelles, training with Atomic Athlete, and frequenting Jack & Adam’s Bicycles is like giving yourself a pat on the back. The folks in these organizations are so positive you can't help but try harder to succeed when you are around them. They keep my passion for sport positive and fresh.
6. Scheduling Bike/Run/Date
Matt and I like to start off on our long runs together; when he has had his fill, we head back to the car. He then suits up to bike alongside me for the rest of the run; as the temperatures soar and the miles stretch out, I avail myself of his water bottles and snacks. We have been all over Austin and Taos this way, and I often feel we are setting off on a great adventure! We even purchased a small iPod player he straps to his pack so we can have live music as we run. Now that's my kind of date!
7. Glowing like a Kid
I like the beauty treatment a workout gives me…and it's free! For example: I love the feeling of rosy cheeks burning hot after a tough spin class; it reminds me of my days as a kid coming in from recess.
I have a large whiteboard that I keep in my bedroom where I write my race goals. I like to write my goal time for a big race, some inspirational quotes, and things I am going to sacrifice in order to get there. There’s nothing like a huge list of goals staring you in the face to get you out of bed in the morning!
I hope my Passion List has inspired you to make your own. Remember: suffering and love go hand in hand! Happy training.