This blog entry was written by our calmly fierce vice-president and RRCA liaison, Dave Gillis.

Some people are inherently motivated to achieve all of life’s goals. I am not one of those people. My motivation ebbs and flows with the tide. Winter has always been a low point for me. It is a constant struggle for me to understand myself and how to keep motivated.

I played many sports in high school, mostly focusing on tennis and soccer. The coaches would always dictate what I needed to do in every practice. As I look back, I understand that part of my difficulty with self-motivation is the fact that throughout my sports career, I never had to make the decision to motivate myself. The coach planned the practices and instincts would take over during the games. The team provided motivation through our desire to win.

After high school, I ran a few road races in college and then joined the Air Force, which also provided some motivation to work out with its annual physical fitness tests. However, I found myself doing the minimum when working out so that I could pass the tests. I was never concerned about setting a personal best, etc.

While in college, my friend and I created a bucket list that including running a marathon. We never got close, but it stuck in my mind. In 2007, on a whim for my New Year’s resolution, I decided to run a marathon. I chose the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio. I had nine months to train and decided that it was sufficient time to prepare. I was motivated by many factors including my family and friends.

I read anything I could get my hands on to help with this vast unknown called “The Marathon.” I found an excellent resource online from a life-long runner with over 100 marathons under his belt, Hal Higdon. I bought one of his books and used the free training plans from his website.

I am a person who needs structure. I planned out nine months of training runs in January and can count on my fingers how many I missed on my way to the September marathon. I was motivated and it showed. I made it through the marathon in 4:15.  I had to slow down when I hit the infamous wall at mile 20, but I got through it. My wife, daughter, friends who were stationed there and my parents were all there to cheer me on.

The next year, three of my friends at work who had followed my progress were motivated to start running races, with one doing a half-marathon. I realized that motivation can be contagious.

I need goals to keep motivated. I’ve run a total of five marathons now and plan on doing more. In years past, I have had annual mileage goals and race time goals. This year, I have a goal of 12 races of various distances and am scheduled for the Marine Corps Half-Marathon in May.

What I am most proud of is my wife. She hadn’t exercised much since high school when she was in track and cheerleading. We’ve joined Gold’s Gym and I haven’t been able to keep up with her. She has been motivating me to keep up in my annual winter ebb and flow of motivation.

Everyone has a different motivator. It can be internal or external. The tough part is knowing yourself and keeping the fire lit.