Training is too often vanity based. We must tap into something bigger. Do another mile or another set not because you have to but because you can. Take that action for someone or something else. Dedicate your workout. Do it with intention and purpose, and to the best of your ability….If you train only for abs or a bigger bench, then that’s all you’ll get. But when you train for something greater, something higher, you will be capable of more than you thought possible – and you’ll get the abs and strength as well. This unlocks the true power of fitness. David Jack, Men’s Health May 2013
A couple of days ago I spent a little time chatting with Crowbar friend and Sons of the Flag Founder, Ryan Parrott about his upcoming 100 mile run. For those of you who don’t know, Sons of the Flag is a foundation dedicated to providing critical support to military service members, first responders and civilians who have survived burn injuries. Today, May 26th Ryan is running from Waco to Dallas (on his feet, not in his car) to raise awareness and to help further their cause. And he’s going to do it in 24 hours. No sleeping at a hotel or stopping to eat a steak. Just running. Do I think he’s crazy? Absolutely. And I told him as much. But I also think he’s brave and committed. As an ex-SEAL, he comes by this insanity and dedication honestly and knows all about pushing his body to its full potential. And he has been driven to do that again by a cause that is important to him. He’s been training with a purpose, with a mission.
I left my conversation with Ryan thinking he was a little crazy, wishing I could help him, but not thinking much more about it. Until I ran across this quote in the May issue of Men’s Health magazine, and instead of seeing Ryan as the crazy one, I started thinking that there might be something to his madness. No, I’m not going to run 100 miles unless I take about a year to do it, and/or zombies are chasing me. But I do wonder if I could find a deeper drive, a higher meaning, a greater cause for my workouts. Why do I workout? Because it makes me healthier. Because it gives me the body I want. Because it makes me strong and I enjoy doing it. Huh. That’s all about me. Is that a bad thing? I say no because the bottom line is that I’m moving my body and improving my health. But it’s an interesting idea to stop and rethink our motivations and see if changing them might just change our workouts.
I know we can’t always train for a cause or make every workout serve a higher purpose but these days it’s pretty easy to find an organized cause to get fired up about. You can register for a race to benefit animals, soldiers, kids, or to help find a cure for all kinds of cancers and other diseases, and everything in between. If you can think of a cause you want to serve, you can probably find a race for it. Pick one, and use the required training as inspiration to workout harder, longer, and/or more often. Or how about finding inspiration on a much smaller scale? When I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon this past March, right after my training buddy (and business partner) Karen had been hospitalized, I used her illness for motivation. When my legs started to scream at me during the race, I told myself “at least you don’t have necrotizing fasciitis, and the pain you’re feeling is small compared to hers”, and that kept me moving. Big or small, finding a personal connection to something outside of yourself can be enough to add a little oomph to your routine.
So what am I saying? That you need to have a noble cause behind your workouts in order to be successful? Definitely not. Workouts fueled purely by vanity can be just as successful as ones that are more altruistically driven. But if you are in need of some motivation, something to keep you going when you think you can’t go any longer, something to make you feel like you’re changing more than just your body, you may need to look beyond yourself and find a greater good to work for.
**Don’t wait – Memorial Day weekend is all about remembering and honoring others. You can Carry the Load (www.carrytheload.org) on the Katy Trail, go cheer on Ryan as he finishes his run, or workout on your own (or with us at Crowbar) using whatever motivation you’ve got. Use what you’ve got to move what you’ve got!**