Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bulletin Board Material

This excerpt from Benjamin Cheever's Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete got me thinking about bulletin board material, motivation and when we need it most:

"And swiftly indeed did they run, for the prize was no mere beast for sacrifice or bullock's hide, as it might be for a common foot-race, but they ran for the life of Hector.  Three times they ran around the city, and then Hector stood to fight.  He lost, of course. Everybody lost to Achilles...Then Achilles tied Hector's dead body to a chariot and dragged it back and forth before the walls of the city.   
And you have to think that if Hector had known this was going to happen, he might have lost those last five pounds, taken the necessary days off, and done his interval work."
That got me thinking about motivation.  When did Hector need the motivation to run harder (yes, I know Cheever's account is rife with satire; just play along)?  It certainly wasn't when Achilles chased him with a spear. It certainly wasn't when his life was on the line.  He needed the motivation while training to fight.

That got me thinking about bulletin board material.  Quite often before a big sporting event, some idiot will run his mouth about how much better his team is than the other team.  Then the media gets a hold of it and claims that the aforementioned idiot gave the other team "bulletin board material," suggesting that the insulted team's coach is going to post the insult on the bulletin board so his entire team can see it, providing the necessary motivation to win the game.  That's dumb.

You mean to tell me that athletes need extrinsic motivation to play hard during the Super Bowl, Conference Championship Game or the annual rivalry game with State University?   These athletes need motivation in the off season, when there's no one watching, when nobody cares, when there is no immediate reward for playing well or playing hard.  That's when bulletin board material would help.  Everyone plays hard once the contest begins.  Everyone runs hard once the race begins.

That got me thinking about the Marathon (or any race of import).  Few runners have trouble getting out of bed on race day.  Few runners have trouble getting started when the gun goes off.  Few runners find trouble running hard when passed going up a hill.  Few runners, unfortunately, achieve anything close to their potential.  Why?  Because it's not the race that determines greatness or success.  It's the race preparation.

Few runners love getting up early for the daily training run.  Few runners relish the first 100 yards on a cold morning running alone.  Few runners are willing to power up a hill when there's no one to pass and no one to hold off.  This is when we need the bulletin board material.  This is when we need the motivation.

What's my bulletin board material?  Everyone who tells me I can't qualify for Boston.  So far, that would be everyone except my wife.  I'm not even convinced I can do it.  I even called myself out in my blog, printed it out and posted it on my bulletin board.

Whatever it takes.

What's your bulletin board material?

1 comment:

  1. I'm catching up with your blog. This is a great post. Years of not trying are my bulletin board material.