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…the tough go shopping!  My mom used to have a poster with that slogan and a photo of a really beasty looking motorcycle man wearing a feather boa and carrying shopping bags.  I was thinking about it the other day as we battled headwinds all the way home from a short trek out to Plymouth Meeting.  The ride there was pleasant– the sun was shining, I had lots of energy and the path was fairly clear.  We stopped at Ikea for bathroom breaks and a picnic but as we munched the sky started to darken, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up.  I was not pleased.  And I did not feel tough at all.

Pit stop

I whined in my head (and out load) the entire 16 miles home: How is it possible to have a headwind on both legs of a roundtrip journey?  WHY does the wind have to be so mean?  Isn’t it possible for my bike to just ride itself?  WHOSE STUPID IDEA WAS IT TO INVENT A BIKE, ANYWAY?!  And so on and so forth. 

A storm rolls in

Why is staying motivated so hard sometimes?  Tonight I went for a quick ride after work and, although the wind was just as fierce, I loved every minute of it.  All I could think about was how strong my legs felt, how nice it was to be outside and how lucky I am to live in a city with a great bike path.  I was the Queen of Tough.  Then there are days I can barely motivate myself to take the stairs rather than the elevator at work.  What is the secret to Lance Armstrong-esque will power?

Sometimes the road-less-travelled SUCKS

I wish I knew for sure, but here are 3 ideas I like to keep in mind when I’m feeling unmotivated: Have a goal, reward your hard work and don’t be too hard on yourself.  I’m sure Lance would disagree.  But hear me out. 

Having a goal gives you something to focus on when you’re feeling pooped.  It can be something really big like “I want to be prepared for bad weather on our Europe trip so I’m riding to work in any weather, including this torrential downpour”, or something really silly like “I want to beat that trolley up the hill so I better huff it.”  It doesn’t really matter, it’s just something to occupy your mind and make you feel like your madness is justified.

Rewarding your hard work is probably my favorite motivating factor.  Again, it can be something big like A 6 MONTH TRIP TO EUROPE or something more realistic like a king-sized Snickers bar.  Either way I think treating yourself after you’ve overcome an obstacle is always nice.  Knowing there’s something to look forward to, a raison d’être, can make the difference between giving up and pushing through.  Not surprisingly a lot of my rewards are food-related.  Yay fatties!

Finally, not being too hard on yourself is really important to me.  It can be extremely difficult to stay motivated when you’re pushing with all your might, hunched over the handlebars and thinking you’re going to keel over at any minute when suddenly some old guy in a skin-tight racing uniform blasts past you like he’s trying to outpace a freaking cheetah or something.  Don’t let it get to you.  My strengths are different from his, but that doesn’t make me any less awesome.   Admire your achievements!

Sporty Spice

What keeps YOU motivated?

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Hot cocoa, campfires, flannel sheets, a sauna, cinnamon gummy bears… Oh!  Those pajamas that have the feets and zip up to your neck…  The list goes on and on in my mind as I try to find a warmth-evoking distraction from the cold, cold, cold that somehow manages to slip in and chill me to the bone.  Two pairs of pants, tights, wool socks, cammie, t-shirt, long sleeve, thermal hoodie and a jacket are still no match for this morning’s weather.  MSNBC (obviously having a slow news day) quotes a fellow East-coaster as calling this kind of cold “snot-freezing.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Human warmth burrito

Patrick and I were discussing the usual chain of events that make up our measly 3-mile commute to work.  It starts out with our eyes uncontrollably streaming tears from the shock of cold (or sadness from being out of our warm bed, I’m not sure), followed by a slight tingle in the thighs.  From here it can go one of two ways.  If it’s not too cold and we’re feeling ambitious our muscles start to warm up and by the time we get to work we’re actually quite warm.  Or, as the case has been the past few weeks, that tingle turns into a chilly numbness that seems to linger for the rest of the day no matter how many hot teas you consume.  Either way we arrive at work, snot dripping at an alarming rate, to de-thaw at our desk/espresso machine.

Us in winter 2010 with our new bikes

Today a coworker, seeing me bundle up and wheel my bike out to the elevator, quipped, “boy, Liz… you sure are hardcore!”  But it wasn’t really a compliment.  It was more like “boy, Liz… you sure are one masochistic, cold-loving Mid-westerner!”  It also reminded me of the anecdote my dad likes to tell about a winter camping trip he took to Canada.  Whenever he told a native Canadian what he was up to their response was “…that’s brave.”  Reading between the lines he soon realized that, in Canada, “brave” is equal to “pretty damn crazy/stupid”.   Since the PECO building’s digital thermometer informed me that it was a mere 9 degrees this morning I’m going to have to go with the Canadians on this one… aren’t I brave?!

Though the forecast doesn’t seem much better for the rest of the week I will persevere!  After all Lance Armstrong, a man who kind of defines the word “hardcore” (in ALL of its connotations, mind you) once said “Pain is temporary.  Quitting lasts forever.”  Rock on, Lance!  Rock on, Liz!  Rock on, snot-dripping!

West Philly

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