Don’t Belly Flop, Find your Motivation!

By Elizabeth Jenkins

When I was in high school, I was a diver. Team sports weren’t my thing, and I hated running so I chose the sport requiring the least amount of it. Diving is completely different than running in most ways, but it is exactly like running in one very important way. Diving is incredibly mental. The skills required to learn a new dive are pretty basic, flexibility, body awareness, power and most importantly, guts.  To run, you really need guts, and sometimes that’s all you need. A major difference between the sports is that you can run with bad form, bad clothes, bad shoes and still be running (not necessarily pain free or fast), but running none the less…. BUT, if you attempt a dive with bad form, inflexibility or if you lack power, you could really hurt yourself.

I recall a particular day at the pool. It was the first day of practice after a long summer break. I hadn’t really been practicing much over the summer and was a little timid on the board. My coach wanted to see all my dives, so one by one, I did them. Front dive, front flip, front 1 1/2, front double. Then on to the inward dive, inward flip, inward 1 1/5, back dive, back flip…then the scary part came. The reverse dive…or as many people know it, the “gainer”. A reverse dive is where you go forward on the board, but as you jump off the board, you throw your hips into the air and dive backwards, head first, facing the board upside down…confused?

Here is a picture (not a super great one, but it gives you an idea) 

Here is a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6ZqW63RML8

Anyway, I kept bailing at the last second and missing the dive. I couldn’t do it. I was scared of smacking. Which, if you have never done, hurts worse than just about anything. 


Finally, after seeing me bail about 5 times, my coach says to me “This is it. This is the one.” I stood on the board for about 3 minutes while my shivering teammates stood by shouting “Just go!”. Finally my coach stood up, recognizing that I was repeatedly talking myself into and out of doing the dive. He held up a $1 bill and shouted “If you do this dive, we will go get ice cream and I’ll buy.” Within about 5 seconds, I jumped off the board and did a perfectly average reverse dive. It was at that very moment I knew that if anything motivated me, it was ice cream.

As endurance athletes, and I use the term “athletes” loosely, motivation is sometimes the only thing that keeps us from giving up. When we are motivated, nothing stands in our way. We don’t give up after an injury, or after a string of less than optimal runs, we push through! Whether you are an ultra runner averaging over 100 miles a week, or a new-comer to the sport, testing out the running waters, you are an athlete and you need motivation, just like everyone else. Without motivation, disaster can strike. Months of training can go down the porcelain pee hole all because we lack motivation. We don’t have to let it happen.

Have you ever been sitting somewhere and thought “oh I wish I could go running right now!” but then when you have nothing pressing on your schedule, you just can’t get yourself out the door? It’s so unfair!

Your challenge is to find out what motivates you! Is it a treat? Is it the endorphine rush? Is it the satisfaction of your clothes fitting a little looser? Or is the only motivation you need a little alone time away from screaming kids? Whatever it is, post it in the comments! Your motivation might help someone else get off the couch and out the door!


My name is Elizabeth, and I am not ashamed to say I am motivated by ice cream.

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