I have the usual plethora of New Year's Goals, of which only a few are race related. However, I am currently unsure if I actually am motivated to pursue these time specific goals, and the more intense training that this will require.
My growing apathy at pursuing these number-focused goals boils down to the specific reasons I work out. Not sure if the below are in order of importance.
1) Vanity. I can't say that I am proud of this but I judge people to a certain extent, including myself, by appearances. Fear of gaining weight (fat) and atrophying (losing muscle) are a primary reason that I get out of bed each morning to workout in the dark.
2) Meaning. As I approached my 5th decade, I was still struggling to find an activity that I could call my hobby. After training for marathons and triathlons, and loving the process, I realized that endurance sports were it. Phew.
3) Rebel. No one wants to feel like a faceless drone, living the exact same life as everyone else. Working out at 5:00 am provides me with some level of differentiation from the Babbitts of the world. The ceaseless mocking I get at work for going to sleep by 9:00 pm is like an English Beat song to my ears. Of course, in a world in which everyone is now training for an Ironman or ultramarathon and documenting the experience online, my endurance bit is losing its steam.
4) Fun. In one out of every four workouts, the endorphin rush overcomes the physical pain of exertion and the run/bike/swim/lifting experience is actually enjoyable. There is something to be said for having fun in the second hour of a workout.
5) Drive. Inside me, not particularly deep, lurks a lazy man, a reality version of Doug Heffernan. Working out daily balances my inner Doug, and transfers my motivation to the cerebral part of my life. Without my commitment to exercise, I would be 50 pounds overweight, unemployed, and in a deep relationship with the On Demand button.
6) Fitness. It feels great to be in shape. Physical well being directly ties to mental and emotional stability. I have reached a level of fitness with which I am happy. I love being able to rattle off an 8 mile, sub 64 minute run or bench 200 pounds 10 times anytime I want.
7) Goals. I like my job a lot but I don't have any clear, defined career goals that drive me. Identifying races to finish, times to achieve provides me with clear, linear goals that compliment my less measurable ones (e.g., be the best dad, be a better friend, achieve inner chi). As a wanna be anal retentive, it is important that I be able to judge myself by arbitrary numbers.
The basic conflict lies between numbers 6 and 7. Given my fitness level, my workouts are impressive to me but do not require tremendous levels of exertion. In short I am not improving becoming I am not pushing myself. The question is whether the increased level of pain it would require to go sub 3.20 for the marathon or break 12 for the Ironman is worth it. Will it still be fun, bring the same level of meaning to my life and maintain the drive to get out of bed at 4:30 am?