Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sense of Purpose

Recently, I celebrated a very special anniversary. I call it a ‘walkaversary’. Nine years ago, I participated in my first 3Day Walk for Breast Cancer. On that first 3Day Walk, I met a particularly friendly walker who is now my husband. That’s probably reason enough to celebrate!

But I also celebrate that my life changed that weekend in more ways than I can recount (many are described in other blog posts you can read below). One major change is that walking became a constant part of my everyday life. On the last day of my first 3Day walk, I limped on a very swollen knee to the registration tent and signed up to do it again the following year. Since that day, I walk at least 4-6 hours every week, and each year as training kicks into gear, I walk up to 25-30 hours a week.

People ask how I stay motivated to walk so much. Matt and I are lucky because, since the walk has been part of our lives together from the very start, walking is a way that we celebrate our life together. Walking dates are a big part of what we like to do. That helps. But there are some other things that I recognize as being the ways that I stay inspired to keep walking year round. I hope that this list might help you keep focus in your training life.

1. Respecting Your Training = Respecting Yourself.
We all have jobs or classes and doctor’s appointments and committee meetings and more that we have to get to at specific times. And, generally, we make it to all those places when we are supposed to because we have scheduled it. You need to make walking as important as anything else in your life. Schedule time to walk and write that time directly onto your calendar as an event. Consider it a date with yourself. You wouldn’t break a date with a friend, would you? So don’t break dates with yourself!

2. Be Impressed With Yourself.
Training for The 3Day takes a lot of time and effort. Be impressed with what you are accomplishing. Tracking your training in a visible and accountable way will help you stay reminded that you should be proud of what you are doing when you take time to train. There are lots of ways that you can track all those miles. Create a chart and post it in your kitchen, make a special calendar for your office, or use an online tracking program, such as www.DailyMile.com. Whatever helps you to blow your own horn is worthwhile. What you are doing is special and incredible!

3. Be Inspired, Be Brave and Don’t Be Afraid to Cry a Little.
There are as many different experiences and meanings to the 3Day as there are walkers and crew. The stories of others will give you tremendous motivation to keep training. It is inspiring to read about why people are walking, what they are learning about themselves, how they are fundraising and more. Look for blogs on the subject, and follow the winding trail from the bloggers you like best to those that they are reading and recommending. I have listed a few of my most recent reads on my blog; other bloggers do the same. Reading the words of others can help you to think more about your own story, and this will definitely help you to keep those feet moving.

4. Embrace the Community
If you haven’t yet been on a 3Day event, you will soon discover that it is like a very big family, without the family drama. The 3Day is all about community. Walking or crewing a 3Day is a very intense experience and you can’t help but embrace the people who share it with you. Bringing that sense of community into your life year-round is a great motivator. I am grateful to the cyber world that has developed in the 9 years since my first walk. Rather than go home and lose that feeling of community during the months between events, I can visit with my 3Day family all the time. If you “like” The 3Day on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/3dayforthecure?ref=ts) you will get great pointers in your news feed, including links from online ambassadors. If you follow the 3Day on Twitter (http://twitter.com/the3day) you read fun comments all day long, and you will find yourself immersed in a community of wonderful 3Day friends. Soon you will be connecting with lots of people who will embrace you and the journey you are taking. It doesn’t matter what city each of us will be in when we have our 3Days, because we are all connected through our common passion.

5. Recognize Your Sense of Purpose
Staying motivated to train is easy when you stay connected to your own personal sense of purpose. You decided to take this journey for your own reasons. These reasons define your sense of purpose. Stay connected to that. Create a mantra that helps you focus on the meaning of your 3Day Walk. I focus on the mantra: “it’s just a walk”. With these words, I remind myself that even if my feet blister or my knees swell up, it is still just a walk. It isn’t chemo and it isn’t living in fear of leaving my daughter without a mom. I remind myself that I am walking for those who cannot take this journey. And for me, it’s just one foot in front of the other over and over again. It’s just a walk.

Think about your own reason for walking. Whatever it is, dedicate yourself and your training to that purpose. Commit yourself to training to honor that purpose. Your sense of who you are and why you are making this journey are worth naming and repeating. And doing that is certain to keep you going every time.


  1. Excellent post! It's nice to know my sense of wonder at the sheer amazing-ness of the 3-Day community is also shared by walk veterans. I've been a little worried about keeping my focus as the 24-week countdown to Arizona begins this week. Thank you for the wonderful tips.

  2. I love the togetherness of the 3day. I haven't stepped foot on my first event yet put already feel so connected. I really love all the advise, wisdom, and cheers from you vets.

  3. Love the post...all of it is so very true.