How is it that 18 weeks of training are nearly over and my first marathon is only a couple days away? At this point, I’m not stressing much about it, which I’m not sure is a good sign or a bad sign.
Today, I want to talk about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation and how it should impact your goals. I also want to share my goals for the Portland Marathon, which I’ve already babbled plenty about before, so there’s nothing new here.
Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation
Does your motivation come from within? Are you pursuing your goals because they are meaningful to you in some way, even if that meaning is inexplicable and ineffable beyond a deep desire to achieve it? Are you running this marathon, half marathon, 10K, or 5K (or even just running, if you don’t race) for yourself and only yourself? If you answered yes to these questions, then your motivation is intrinsic. It comes from within you, a fire burning deep in your bones regardless of what others think.
Extrinsic motivation is when you pursue a goal because of a desire to please others. Think of in school, how some students happily did their work for the sake of gaining knowledge, while others had to be motivated by grades, the threat of detention, or treats. Extrinsic motivation may come from social media and a desire to run a marathon or other race because all of your friends are training for one as well. There’s nothing wrong with finding inspiration in the accomplishments of your friends, but if you are running a marathon just for social media likes, then you may want to reassess your goals.
Susie and Jesica wrote recently about why a BQ should not be the be-all, end-all for runners. Running a marathon in itself is a huge accomplishment as it is! When it comes to a BQ, I truly believe that there should be intrinsic motivation; you should not want to qualify just for the applause on social media or because all of your running friends will be running Boston.
Ultimately, you should run a marathon, pursue a BQ, or any other goal you have because it brings you joy. Right now, I don’t race 5Ks or 10Ks because that searing sensation of going all-out in a race is not fun for me (which is a definite weakness of mine – my speed is lacking in comparison to my endurance). Even Lauren Fleshman’s 10 Reasons Why the 5K is Freaking Awesome couldn’t persuade me to ditch the long hours and pounding of distance running.
When you set goals, set goals that present a reachable challenge for you, but also set goals that will bring you joy. Create your own narrative of what defines success for you in running, not what you see everyone else doing. Don’t compare yourself to what others are achieving or what you think others would want you to do. Goals you set to please others won’t leave you feeling truly accomplished and happy.
Portland Marathon Goals
When I set my goal to BQ at the Portland Marathon, I based the goal not as much upon my desire to run the Boston Marathon (for which I am intrinsically motivated) but to run a 3:30:00 marathon. If I fell under a different Boston Qualifying standard, such as if 3:05:00 applied not just to men my age but to women as well, I would not be as motivated to pursue it.
I am still incredibly type-A when it comes to grades, so I’m listing this goals as A+, A, and B. Yes, I’m totally insane, but mentally, I’ll take it better if I hit my A goal and miss my A+ than if they’re called B and A, so I’m working some sports psychology on myself here.
My A+ goal is to qualify for Boston. I really want to run a 3:30:00 marathon, because I’m weird about numbers and like how much of a round number this is. Whether I squeak in with a 3:34:58 or smash it with a 3:29:00, I’ll still feel so accomplished if I achieve this goal. That said, qualifying for Boston is hard (that’s why it’s such a big deal) and the marathon is a beast, which is why this is my A+ goal.
For my A goal, I am aiming to run a 3:40 or faster. Even if I hit the wall and slow down over the final 5-10K of the race, my training times still indicate that I should be able to run this time.
My B goal is to finish under 4 hours. Sometimes you just have crappy running days; while I’m hoping that tapering and a good dose of mental toughness can overcome this, I also don’t want to get too full of myself before the inevitable humbling of one’s first marathon. I know with this time I would be happy, but I would still feel motivated to try again for a better marathon time again soon.
Questions of the Day:
Where do you find your motivation as you set your running goals?
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