Suffering is fun?

This post is the third in a series of guest posts by Eric Motter. Read his first and second in the series. Check back every few weeks to read more about his journey as a Nike-sponsored athlete and his marathon training progress.

“This is supposed to be fun. I want you to suffer.”
– My longtime friend Randy “Bones” “Benedict, a.k.a. Nurse Ratched, June 30, 2014

Other than trying to push myself too hard too early, my training had been going well. There were a few minor bumps in the road, and the threat of vomit in every humid run, but all in all I felt like I was progressing. Then I hit mid-June. My easy runs were still okay, but anything at race pace was brutal. I felt like my legs were so heavy I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other, and the humidity wasn’t helping things. I was sweating so much that I started to do my post-run stretches in my basement or on my driveway so my sweat wouldn’t ruin our bedroom carpet. Sorry about that visual.

I went back to Second Sole to see Bones at the end of June, completely dejected and feeling like a 2-hour half marathon might be out of reach for me. Bones saw the despair in my eyes and declared psychological warfare for the first three weeks of July.

“It’s all in your head,” Bones told me. “We’re going bare bones.” I’m not sure if that pun was intended or not. “No more GPS. No more watch on your wrist when you run. Just listen to your body and get your head in tune with your running.”

If I felt like I was going too fast and was going to bonk, then I should slow down. If I felt like I could push harder, then I should speed up. No more looking adjusting my pace to what the GPS watch was showing. We were going back to the basics.

“This is supposed to be fun. Enjoy yourself,” Bones implored. I’m a pretty metrics-driven guy. As a competitive son of a gun and a math nerd, this willy-nilly approach went against everything I held sacred. But Bones is the expert, so I was willing to give it a shot.

The only exception to the no-watch rule was going to be my speed work, where I would need a stopwatch. Bones assigned me a couple of tough runs – one was five reps of a 2/1/1/30/30/30 (2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy, 1 minute hard, 30 seconds easy, etc.). The other was five reps of 5 minutes hard followed by 3 minutes easy. Knowing I was in a psychologically fragile state, Bones left me with an uplifting thought. “I want you to suffer.”

Well, that made me feel better.

“You’re going to hate me during that speed work.” He was right about that.

Have you seen the footage of Kellen Winslow being carried off the field after the Chargers beat the Dolphins in the 1982 playoffs? That’s how I felt at the end of my speed runs. All the coconut water in the world wasn’t going to replace those lost electrolytes. I made the mistake of doing those runs early in the morning before work, and I may have been delirious in a few of my meetings later in the day. If you see Cigna entering the hamster bicycle helmet business in early 2015, you’ll know it’s because the meeting to make that decision happened on the same day I was doing speed work.

At the end of this week, I’m going to run another timed run to see where I stand less than 90 days out from the race. Here’s hoping Bones was right and it was all in my head. Anything slower than a 9:20 pace for 6 miles will tell me I’m in trouble. Anything faster than that and I’ll feel like I’m in good shape to push harder into the second half of the summer. As always, I’ll keep you posted.


It’s fun for me to do this blog and share my tales of woe and embarrassment with you, but I don’t want to lose sight of the beneficiary of the Columbus Marathon, Nationwide Children’s Hospital. When I’m cursing Bones under my breath and thinking about giving in, I always remember that my role here is a small part of a much bigger thing. I am running this year’s race as a Children’s Champion, raising money to benefit Children’s. If you’d like to be a Children’s Champion, please click here and register. If you’d prefer to donate to the cause without doing the fundraising yourself, you can always donate through my page here. Thanks in advance!


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