“So, what drives you?” Any elite, whatever their fixation, is bound to at some point be asked this age-old jabber of a question.
“What keeps you going when you’re out there?” “What inspires you?” “Why do you do it?”
The hope is that this profoundly-versed question will give way to profound musings. And when it comes from the mouths of conquistadors, the answer is going to be much more of a hook. Of course we want to know the secrets of the extremely talented: we want to know the secret thing they’ve unlocked that’s helped them reach super status. Like discovering Thor’s hipflask on Mount Olympus, for instance.
Yet we lowly earth dwellers have motivations too, dagnammit – especially when it comes to running – though we might prefer to ferret them away like dirty little secrets.
Let me give you an example. Last night, my friend the lovely Laura and I, went to see Absolutely Fabulous, the BBC movie based on the Jennifer Saunders classic. True to form, it was very silly. It also gave me free rein to mindlessly pile truck loads of sugar into my blood stream in the shape of giant chocolate buttons and sparkling fruit pastilles. The action could have feasibly been described as uncontrolled ‘shoveling’, and also followed on from the few slabs of cake I’d scoffed during the day (for teamwork purposes, you understand). I wasn’t my most controlled, dignified self.
And this is in no way a rare occurrence. When I first started running over 3.5 years ago, I was spending half my time working in a coffee house rammed with cakes, and I needed to counteract the after-effects of enjoying my delightful sugary cocoon. So that’s chiefly why I began to run. But once I was up and running, it didn’t take long for me to swap my taste for sugar with one for lolloping round the rural roads of my childhood village.
Thankfully, experience has brought strength – not just to my legs, but my steely runner’s reserve.
For example: I hate it when the days draw in for winter, so I’m motivated to go out running in the early hours, to see the sky move from pitch to sunrise, even when my blood turns to ice at first. I love going out running first thing in the summer when the air is fresh, to save myself from turning into a sweaty heap at the other end of the day, even if it means getting up at 5am.
I’m psyched by the thought of conquering my second half marathon distance, and moving onto a marathon, even if it means making it my life for a while. In short, I’m ambitious to smash so much more than a few hundred calories a go. I want to challenge who and how I am, my approach to things, the in-built barriers that have me self-checking my abilities, capping what I think I can do.
In my book, those motivations are pretty ‘super’. But I also know I’ll probably never shake my dirty little secret: that need to burn off the 40 giant chocolate buttons I scoffed the night before.