Sunday, April 9, 2017

Discovering Motivation in the Moment

Boyce Park

Saturday morning was a warm sunny day in Pittsburgh.  The weeks before had been chilly and rainy.  That motivated me to get out for a run to enjoy the weather.

A group of friends and I are registered to run the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay in a couple of weeks.  My leg of the race is 4.2 miles - a mile farther than I normally run.  The need to train so I don't let down my friends motivated me to get out for a run.

Over these past few weeks I have watched several of the senior citizens that I help care for at work continue to physically decline.  I constantly hear our Physical Therapist talk about how they stopped coming to exercise and the impact that that sedentary lifestyle has had on their health.  My fear of becoming like them motivated me to get out for a run.

I parked my car and began to run along the hilly road that winds through Boyce Park.  A little over a mile into my run, my legs started to ache and I felt tired.  I was ready to turn around and head back to my car.  All of the reasons why I was out for a run came to mind.  They were very valid reasons to continue, but I wasn't feeling it today.  Forget the three miles, I was just going to do two.  My motivation was gone.

It was then that I rounded a bend and saw them.  An elderly man and woman.  Bundled up in winter coats with hats and gloves.  He with a cane and her bent over a walker.  Moving at a slow pace.  Each step purposeful.  Each step obviously coming with pain and difficulty.  Wow - if they could be out pushing themselves to keep moving, how in the world could I let myself stop short of the goal that I had set for myself?  If they could do it, so could I.

I picked up my pace and caught up with them.  They were just adorable.  Talking to each other while continuing to move forward step by step.

I couldn't help myself.  I had to say something.

"What an inspiration you are to me," I said as I ran past.  "Keep going!  You're doing great!"

They looked at me and smiled.

I suddenly had a surge of energy and pushed myself to run through my walking intervals until I came to a hill and started to walk.  I could sense a car coming up behind me and then realized that it was slowing down.  It was the elderly couple.  The driver's side window was down.

"We finished our lap.  Time to finish yours!  Keep going," the gentleman said to me as his wife waved at me from the passenger side.

My motivation had returned.  I smiled and waved as the car disappeared over the hill.

I spent the next mile thinking about the absolutely adorable couple.  I could tell that they both were in pain as they walked along the road.  Yet, they hadn't stayed home.  They didn't quit because it was too hard or because they were tired.  They kept going and kept pushing themselves to take one step at a time.  Which is exactly what I did as I wrapped up a three mile run that had almost become two.

I have several big picture motivators, goals and fears that keep me moving day after day.  But sometimes the big picture isn't good enough.  It's easy to tell myself that I will focus on that tomorrow while choosing to do something else.  Running into that couple reminded me to look around me for a smaller dose of motivation to keep myself moving.  The beauty of the environment.  A favorite song with a great memory attached to it that is on my playlist that pushes me to run.  A friend who is expecting me.  A couple who inspires me to keep moving because they are moving.  I am surrounded by motivating people and situations just waiting to be discovered and push me towards success!
Making my way up the hill at Boyce Park.