Dopey Challenge 2018 – Week 4 Update

Dopey Challenge 2018

(or “How to stay motivated when your training doesn’t feel important”)

I’m officially 4 weeks along in my Dopey Challenge Training, so I thought it would be a good time for a quick update.

You wouldn’t think there would be much to write about this early on in the program, right? For the most part that is true, but I have been dealing with some intriguing “motivational issues” the last few weeks, so I thought I would share. Actually in reading some Dopey related blog posts, and comments on the Dopey Facebook groups, it seems that I am not the only one experiencing these issues… so yeah, even more reason to open a dialogue in this regard. Strength in numbers, right?

Here’s my take on what might be provoking my motivational malfunction. We’ll break it down into a couple parts:

The first is a given… one that I can sum up in two words. “July” and “Texas” Yeah it’s hotter than a hoochie coochie! (you’re welcome for the ear worm). Planning time to run when it’s 157 degrees and 200% humidity is tricky, to say the least. Heat and humidity is the bane of the southern runner’s existence this time of year. (And for those of you not from the south, NO it doesn’t cool off at night!) But we’ve all dealt with ol’ Mother Nature in the past, so this can’t be the sole reason for my lack of motivation. Nope, there is something else afoot here. Something even more sinister than the Texas heat.

For the answer, we will need to look at the Dopey Challenge training plan. You’ll see that the first 5 weeks of this program are mostly short maintenance runs, with a short-ish “long run” on Saturday. This is quite a step back for those of us who have been training for longer runs previously. And I get that this is a common practice for most distance training plans. Step backs are an integral part of building to a distance and peaking at the right time. I get it. Doesn’t mean it’s easy. As distance runners, we have conditioned our bodies to crave the challenge, to push harder, go farther… and then, poof! Run for 45 minutes or so, 3 days a week. Kind of hard to get the engines running for that. Now before any you of start thinking “what a pompous ass this guy is!”, let me make it clear that I am totally on board with the importance of the progression of this program. I am fully aware of how it is designed to work, and have mucho respect for Mr. Galloway (and his training programs). The fault does not lie with the plan, but with that powerful hunk of matter some of us (ok, MOST of us… ok ALL of us, dammit!) have between our ears. Our brain is saying, “WTF? You’ve gotta work harder than that! We are running 48.6 miles in 4 days. We gonna do that with this pansy ass 3 mile B.S?” And we agree, “Yeah, it’s only 3 miles. Why don’t we just skip it.” And there we are… caught in a very vicious circle. Did I not warn you it was sinister?

So what do WE do? WE know we should do the workout. WE know how the plan works. WE know that these maintenance workouts are preparing us for longer runs in the weeks to come. But still, somehow they just don’t seem that important. How do we push through these first several weeks of training?

I have to admit I have no astonishing breakthrough or amazing solution to share with you guys. We are all different, so I don’t think there is a “be all, end all” solution that’s gonna work for everyone anyway.  I can tell you a couple things that have helped me.

Making things fun has helped me a bunch, especially on these shorter days. I’ve created a playlist of some of my favorite Disney tunes that I listen to while running (and I even still have all of my testosterone, and other manly attributes). Helps me visualize how fun it will be to run through the parks, and reminds my why I am doing this. Sometimes I even sing, hopefully not too loud. I also mix up the types of workouts that I am doing, change speeds, try to concentrate on particular aspects of form… have fun with it! Another very big motivator for me is being held accountable by/holding accountable a running buddy. Sandy and I have managed to knock out all of our workouts so far. Maybe not always on the specified day, but one way or another we have logged the time/mileage, with one or the other of us usually playing the role of motivator (even if we aren’t necessarily motivated). If you don’t have a running buddy, get one!

So, what about you? What methods have you used to motivate yourself to get out there and run, walk… crawl your way through a seemingly insignificant workout? What helps you might help someone else who’s facing these same mental hurdles. I encourage your comments, and look forward to hearing your insights.

I wish the best to all of you who are joining me in this challenge, as well as those of you who are working on a challenge of your own. I hope you are able to find creative ways to get out there and get it done!

Kick some ass!