The lure of overcoming unpredictability

Iao Needle on Maui in Hawaii

It’s quite possible that I have a serious case of the Mondays so please be patient. I like challenging myself. When I saw Iao Needle in Maui last month, I kept thinking to myself. I wonder what’s on top of there? I wonder how hard it would be to climb up there? Let me say that it peaked my curiosity and interest. Of course, you aren’t allowed to climb over there nor did I have time as our plane was taking off that afternoon. Still, it reminded me of what I find motivating.

It’s definitely not winning. At least in the sense of competing against others, the idea of standing on a podium holds no real thrill (OK, only a little). It’s probably a good thing since my plodding training runs of 10 minute miles are never going to put me at the top of any podium. Sure, I have these moments during races where I see a runner in front of me or behind me and I do my best to kick it in gear to pass or stay ahead, but the thrill is only fleeting.

I thought for a while that I am motivated by the fear of failure. That seems like an odd motivation since I don’t really need to run ultramarathons. It might help motivate me to run because, well, who likes to fail? That’s not really a motivation to sign up for a race since the easiest way to avoid failure is not to try at all. Of course, fear of failure plays a role because the feeling of success at overcoming a challenge when failure is not only an option, but in some cases probable, is like no other.

I am motivated by the feeling that comes from overcoming my fear of failure. In fact, I miss it. I struggle when things are too predictable or the challenges in front of me are too small or too approachable. There are delicious unknowns in 100 mile races. With 3 DNFs (did not finish) under my belt, success is hardly a foregone conclusion. But with 4 finishes under my belt, I also remember what it feels like to overcome that fear and succeed nonetheless and that is, I hope, enough motivation for me to complete this training cycle and complete the race. My plan right now is to put my money where my mouth is if I can keep up with my training plan for two more weeks.

Author: The Noname Nerd

I'm a Ph.D. level nerd who loves movies, video games, and running. My hobby is selling merch here

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