Fitness goals are a slippery slope. Recently, for me, goal setting has gone a little something like this:
- Decide to run a race. (The Goal)
- Sign up for the race.
- Start training.
- Decide to take diet to the next level.
- Start running on rest days to take running frequency to the next level.
- Start speed work to take pace to the next level.
- Start feeling hungry from next level diet.
- Start feeling shin splints from next level running frequency.
- Start feeling tired from next level pace.
- Skip race.
That pretty much sums up my race experiences for 2015 and 2016. Needless to say, I spent a lot on registration fees, but there are no finishers medals hanging on my gym wall to show for it. We all want success when we set a goal, but it doesn’t always happen.
Ironically, I only had one truly important goal those years, which was to run a race. As I added more parameters to what that goal should look like, I was actually self-sabotaging my own success. Old habits die hard: Too Much Too Soon, Multi-Tasking, Willpower, Perfection.
So for 2017, I embraced the concept of simplicity by setting only one fitness goal: Finish the race. It may seem unimpressive, but it is actually a big step forward, given my last two training cycles.
This year, I am running a 50K, now 11 weeks into a 24 week training program. So far, I’ve only missed one run, and given that I’m human with a personal life and family, I consider that a success. What have I done differently this time that has worked?
- Stayed Present. I shifted my focus to accomplishing today’s workout only, without looking forward or backward.
- Created Space. I chose a training plan with 2 days off per week and lower weekly mileage, to allow myself some flexibility for long run scheduling, and to create a buffer for fatigue.
- Found Community. I found an accountability partner, who has relentlessly checked Strava for my long run each week, and per my request, vowed to publicly out me if I skip it.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to Choose Wisely. Every choice comes with opportunity cost. By prioritizing my race finish, I may not run fast. However, I’ll take slow running over no running any day. Know your priorities, act accordingly, and wait patiently for success.