What’s the Why?

I recently completed a little personal challenge for which I ran one mile every hour for 24 hours. It was a goal that provided some challenge, but also seemed quite attainable. There was no individual run that was particularly daunting–they’re each just a mile. The thing is that at the end of the day, you’ve added up 24 miles and had little time for actual rest.

My run(s) took a bit of planning:

  • I did this during the middle of a week off of work.
  • I picked the coolest day of the week for the majority of the running.
  • I decided to start in the evening, so I would get the dark running out of the way and be able to finish at a time that allowed for major food consumption followed by real rest.
  • I made sure all my running clothes were clean and ready.
  • I made my resting place–a camping pad in the basement, so as not to disrupt others who were sleeping and to keep my increasingly grubby self out of our actual beds.
  • Oh, and I’ve been running quite a bit, so I have a solid base of mileage on my legs.

Best laid plans…mostly!

Though the forecast only called for a small chance of rain for a few of my running hours, it actually rained for about half of the time, starting with a steady downpour that began just before the start of Mile 1! I went through a rotation of clothes and shoes, doing laundry as the night went on and the rain kept falling. My hubby ran the bookend miles with me, and to my surprise, my son ran the wee hours–1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 a.m. with me. I brought the dog along in the middle of the night, mostly to keep her from getting anxious and waking up the wise family members who were sound asleep. Plus, that added to the fun, since I got to dry her off every mile, too! Wet dog, wet shoes, wet kid, wet everything.

The runs moved along. The biggest challenge was indeed rest. I found myself laying down for up to 30 minutes at a time, and after those first couple of hours of normal sleep time, I wondered how I would even make it. But, I guess I settled in. After a few more miles (and hours) I hit a stride. The sunrise didn’t hurt either. It’s always encouraging to come into daylight after spending a time in darkness–so true in many literal and figurative aspects of life.

Of course, there are more details, and there have been several stories and questions since this little venture. The most common question I’ve gotten is, “WHY?” So, I’ve thought about that a bit. Of course, I had some inspiration and piqued interest in order to do this, but I think it’s more than that. I often reference the work of Simon Sinek and his golden circle in work and personal goals. I’ve also long subscribed to Daniel Pink’s work in Drive, where he lists three keys to motivation–purpose, autonomy, and mastery. This was sort of sub-conscious to me, but those three keys were there. First, I’m a runner. I’m training for a trail marathon and need to get in miles…time on my feet, particularly time on my feet when I’ve pushed to a point of exhaustion. The purpose was there–24 miles that day (plus, I did a few in the morning before the evening start just for kicks!). This little task also had the perk of being different. It wasn’t the same as just going out for another long run. It provided a twist and one that sparked others’ interest. And, it was just something I decided to do for a change-up in the training. That’s autonomy. Finally, we go full circle to the bit of challenge while still being attainable. This task allowed me to work at something and accomplish a goal–mastery.

I have more plans for some awesome projects and challenges. I have more to offer in my work, my community, my fitness, my volunteering, and my personal goals. I think we all do, and I think if we take a good look, we’ll find that the motivation is there. We’ve got opportunities for working with purpose and autonomy and toward mastery all around us. I’ve sure got much greater purpose than just running miles! Perhaps all we need to do is identify our next steps and start–make a plan, take some action.

Before I wrap this up, I’ll also just give the top highlight of this little endeavor–hands down the people! I set out to do this on my own, but somehow was fortunate enough to have lots of texted encouragements throughout the whole thing, a couple of running friends joined me for some of the miles, my son (who’s never been a runner) came with me in the dark of night and for the final mile, my daughter took care of all sorts of nourishment and rest needs, my husband ran the start and finish with me, and more great friends created a finish line celebration complete with a finishing tape, medal, decorations, cowbell, cheeseburgers, and beer! Perfect ending to a silly little running goal. Cheers to the next challenges. This one was sure fun!

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