2011 digestion: Motivation,faith, trepidation

Done, nearly done in

A good reason to run, strong motivation, is a great help in getting through the training and then through the run on the day.

My motivation this year came from the doom that hangs over my running.

That I’m getting older is a part of it. The set-backs that made it a struggle to build a 4-5 day a week running habit are also part of the doom: a badly twisted ankle, a cold, bad weather, a family crisis. Part of it too is the feeling that I have nothing to prove.

Mostly though it’s knowing that the knee-surgeon who tidied the torn cartilage in my right knee said the damage to the bones meant my ultra-career was over – especially long distances on tar. If I feel a deep ache in knee bones, any joint in fact, I will stop running.

That doom is a short cut to laziness.


I also nearly knew that I could do another Comrades, something grand. Not just a marathon nor just a hike. If I trained enough and ran carefully I could do it.

Knowing though, is not enough. Only doing counts. So  for a time now I wanted to do another Comrades, get a 13th medal. Through the start-stop efforts, the try-again-next-years, that want became a strong driver:  a need I wanted to satisfy; a want I needed to fulfill; a hole that needed plugging.

My effort focussed on a finisher’s medal. I wanted to taste success, a medal around my neck.

After the my failure in 2010 that medal became powerful. That medal got a life of its own. It pulled me out on the streets.  Despite another another twisted ankle running a mountain trail, come October 2010 I was running regularly. That got my heart strong, lungs open and ate a little of my excess fat – first rewards of effort.

Lucky it’s a small medal so it despite its power, it didn’t weigh heavy in my mind. Training, you see, gave me joy taking me into a lively world. In making me strong it helped slow  the decay of aging. Starlight brightened my grin.


I had to run in faith. Not that I was looking for outside help. Comrades’ faith is that training has made one’s legs and mind are strong enough to reach our goal.  According to the books I had done enough to get through in the time allowed. Not much room for error, but enough.

But I never knew whether my legs, body, mind would last the whole way. Would blisters or a misplaced foot, stumble and fall damage one of my wonky ankles? Would what could go wrong actually go wrong. Would, in fact now, the remaining cartilage in my knees be enough to do its job for all that distance?

What if as the year before my legs just wouldn’t run anymore? Would I end up stranded outside a chicken farm, far up the road but too far from the end, trying to rationalise that finishing Comrades didn’t mean that much in the grand scheme of things.

Would I let go the dream?

I had to have faith.

The faith of doing the right things. A faith less of hope and more of action.


Last year I had enough of trepidation. The night before the run was a sleepless nightmare. I can say it now. But maybe it wasn’t trepidation; maybe it was the last night before execution doom.

The problem is that part of faith is precisely not knowing. With that comes trepidation.

Mild trepidation sure, a little gloom without the doom, a little fear without the trembling; knowing I could without knowing I would, excess adrenaline with the wooziness of a huge rush.

Rituals to care of worry that I had forgotten something:  a chair dress in what I would wear; checklist to check the checklist . The three essentials always close at hand – timing chip, shoes, electrolyte pills.

The last of the trepidation faded on the the run down to half-way. Deep into the run i had room for only constant effort. From the it was only a question of whether my legs would last a.

Next year

The balance will be different. No fear in my pocket, just the 2011 medal. If my training builds on these last two years, I will sweat less. My motivation will be as strong. I’ll get more of the Comrades spirit and I’ll have faith in a faster time.