We’ll start with a picture:
Got my shoes on. Standing outside. Gotta run right? Well – let’s slow down a bit (no pun intended). Why am I running today? What is my goal? Ever feel like this?
The word “goal” is defined as “the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it.” Hmm. This really means that a goal needs to be (1) achievable (intent) and (2) measurable (otherwise we never terminate the behavior and never can get better). One “goal” I see often while perusing the blogosphere is: “Eat healthy”. Is that really a goal? What does that mean? Eat one fewer French fries? Ten fewer M&Ms? A professionally developed menu? How do you know when you’ve eaten healthier so you can move on to the next goal to make yourself better?
So – to bring everything back to square one – running has become drudgery for me because I have no achievable future state of affairs and plan that involve running. I’m just running. Kind of like just going to work. My goal ceased to be back in March when I completed the L.A. Marathon. I tried later on to set another goal – running a 50 miler come May. But where was the plan to achieve that goal? Is that really achievable in my current state? How am I going to solve this problem?
Setting realistic goals requires two things. First and most important – you need to be honest with yourself. I mean – don’t lose sight of your dreams, but be honest about what you can do. For me, that means I really need to take a step back and figure out if a 50 miler (and here’s the key) by May is realistic. Second – setting goals really requires some introspection. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Really?
Personally, I’ve been thinking for the last month. The honest fact is I *really* don’t enjoy running. It’s hard. It requires a lot of effort and discomfort. I run because it beats the alternatives. But – why am I really doing this? I’m not doing this because I love travel, or crowds, or runner’s high. I’m doing this to lose weight. So – the first problem is Goal #1 is really not running related at all.
Reflecting back on my running history, I had the most success when I was getting in shape to climb Mt. Whitney. It wasn't about PRs or anything. It was about doing something I really love - enjoying the alpine reaches of the Sierra Nevada. Goal #2? Maybe another assault on Whitney?
After a month, one thing is pretty evident now. I’m not being successful in my running because there aren’t any “running” related goals involved. It’s not about running a marathon a month. It’s really to drop weight and get into/stay in shape <<raising eyebrows>>.
So – here are my 2011 goals:
- Lose 40 pounds by 12/31/2011. There you go. Achievable (3 lbs per month). Measurable (40 pounds, needs to be done by 12/31).
- Climb Mt. Whitney by Labor Day. Achievable (did it before – it wasn’t easy though. Almost turned around day 1). Measureable (make it to the top, needs to be done by Labor Day).
I know I know. So how does running factor in? Well – that’s tomorrow’s discussion – “Strategies for successful goal achievement”. Thanks for reading and hanging in!