Military and External Motivation

Back in the mid 90’s, I joined the United States Navy.  I was fresh out of high-school, and knew that if I went to college I would be wasting my time.  Looking back, I can see that I had not motivation to go to school AND do well.  In our “aged” wisdom, we can look back and see that many use college as a time to party, as opposed to a time to study, learn and grow (ok – so some do both.. I wouldn’t have.)


Can you find me in the picture?   -Company C024, US NAVY from Oralndo RTC, 1994

I wandered down to my recruiter, talked to him and signed up (to make a long story short.)

I suppose looking back, I could claim I was being wise.. That I knew i wasn’t “motivated” enough to do well in school, and didn’t want to waste my time.  That may even be the reason – I’m not going to try to apply my thoughts NOW to my motivation then.  It seems a lot like cheating.

Either way, I ended up in Orlando, Florida at the Recruit Training Center on January 20th of 1994.  Physical exercise is a regular part of the schedule (not to mention punishment), so motivation isn’t exactly a problem.   Something about a

Company Commander (the Navy’s equivalent of a Drill Sergeant) applying motivation FOR you – really helps you keep going.

Can you see the motivation being applied? Picture from:

Can you see the motivation being applied?
Picture from:

Under those circumstances you find out you CAN do that extra push-up, and you really CAN dig deeper!

Now, in case you missed the date that I started boot-camp, let me mention here – it has been a LONG time since I was there.  (We won’t go into a discussion of decades vs years at here) After all my training, I ended up in the Fleet, on the East Coast.  At that point in time, the Navy didn’t enforce Physical Fitness quite as sternly as some of the other branches.  If you could pass your physical fitness test, you were good.   Now if you couldn’t? THEN they were kind enough to supply some more external motivation.  You might have to report to mandatory exercise sessions, have regular weigh-ins, and even face the possibility of being kicked out.  You can see how this worked for a large number of people!

Most of us aren’t in the Military, yet if a source of External Motivation helps you (or is required) – all is not lost!  It is no coincidence that many gyms offer a “Boot Camp” training program.  While they certainly can’t equal the level of motivation that a Drill Instructor (or GOD as you end up thinking of them) can apply, the fitness coaches can certainly help keep you going!  For running, a running-buddy, or even a group (Such as the Annapolis Striders in Annapolis, Maryland or the Triple Cities Runners Club in Binghamton, NY) can help keep you going.

Now comes the audience participation portion… What sort of external motivation helps you?


I run, because I am a runner. Having realized that I have always "been a runner" - even when I went years with out running, I am learning how it has integrated itself in all aspects of my life. When I started running in highschool, my perspective on life changed. Funny that I didn't realize how much it had affected it until just recently.

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One comment on “Military and External Motivation
  1. Charles says:

    It’s nice to see my boot camp company pic again, however, it was not taken in 1994. The C024 in this pic was NOV91-JAN92. There have been several C024’s throughout the years. Maybe you just found the wrong pic for the wrong year?

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The Once and Future Runner
Once and Future Runner

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