A couple of weeks ago I was driving my daughter to Hebrew school. We were chatting and she says, “I’m getting ice cream today.” I said, “Just you?” She tells me, “Well, everyone is getting ice cream, but I get to pick the kind of ice cream I want. Everyone else is just getting a plain old scoop.” My daughter turned her chin up so very slightly. I swear a look of self-contentment passed briefly over her face. I wondered, do I look like that, too, when I speak emphatically about things?
I paused, waiting for the rest of the story. But, as is my daughter’s style, I needed to probe a little more. And I found myself torn. Which question do I ask first? Why are you getting special ice cream or what flavor and kind of concoction are you getting? Of course I asked the important question, “So what kind of ice cream are you getting?” Proudly, she said, “A chocolate milkshake.” We both giggled. Talking about ice cream always makes me giggle. Eventually, I asked the question about why she was getting to choose her ice cream, and she told me the Rabbi was a pilot and had taken pictures all over NJ and they had a contest. He posted a different picture each week and students had to submit a guess as to where the picture was taken.
I was very impressed. I didn’t know she knew so much about NJ. When I asked how she knew so much, she revealed her very brilliant strategy. She said, “I didn’t really always know the answer. But I tried to at least guess every week. I think in the beginning when they first announced the contest people tried and they made guesses, but as the weeks passed they got bored or just forgot all together about doing it. I just kept trying every week. I made it a point to look at the picture and make a guess.”
I thought about this for awhile before I said anything else. Thoughts ran through my head…She tried every week… She was guessing and never really knew for sure if she was going to get it right… Every other kid gave up eventually. Hmmm. How did I get such a smart kid? Then another question popped into my mind. It was about motivation. Motivation had been on my mind lately. I was having trouble in that department. I had an injury over the winter and I stopped running for a while, per doctor’s orders. But even after the doctor told me I could run and get back to my higher impact routine, I found myself making some excuses. Like, I didn’t have a race to train for. I also kind of liked lounging in bed in the morning and I kept thinking that it would suck to get injured again so that, “I’d better be safe than sorry,” phrase would run through my head as I pulled the covers over my head. Yeah, I was milking it. But, I was truly finding it hard to motivate myself.
I finally asked my daughter that important question that would give me insight into why she would put so much effort into this when everyone else gave up. “So you were in it for the ice cream, right?” She thought on it for a moment and then like she was talking to a toddler, patiently explained to me, “Ice cream was certain. Everyone was getting ice cream. The winner got to choose, but everyone got ice cream anyway. I did it because it was fun and easy to do. I just had to show up each week and try.”
I thought about my daughter’s wisdom as I started running again. I decided that it was time to get back to where I wanted to be. I realized there was some fear there. The fear was that I didn’t think I would be able to run as fast or far as I did before my injury. And of course, I was not going to be able to do that right away anyway. So I had to just get over that. But my daughter’s sage advice refueled me and reminded me of a few things.
1. There is a reward for showing up. I become stronger each time I run.
2. Consistency is important. Running over and over will get me where I want to be.
3. Just trying was important. Maybe not every run would be great, but sometimes I learn more from the runs that don’t go particularly well, than the ones that do go well.
4. Fun was a given.
5. And in the end there might be a really great outcome. Maybe I would get back to where I was or even improve.
This was just the motivation I needed. So I decided to look at this time as a wonderful gift to begin training again and have fun. I downloaded an app I recommend to a lot of new runners called “Couch to 5k” and I started the program myself. I am having a great time just letting my body run. I get to work on my form, too. There are lots of rewards for taking it slow and building myself up again. I am so glad I have this opportunity. So next time I lace up I will be thinking about the things that motivate me to run, like just having fun, getting stronger, learning something new or maybe, next time, I will just be in it for the ice cream, (tee hee).
Toni Genovese, LCSW, CPT-NASM, CPC
Strong at the Core LLC
Health & Wellness Coaching