Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My good friend over at Feet Meet Street (When I say ‘friend,’ I don’t mean actual friend. I’ve never even met the guy.  I think he’s a teacher and if we worked at the same school, we could be friends), talks about how setting goals helps us realize just how colossal our failures are. Funny stuff.

But is it true?

As the URL of this wonderful blog suggests, I have set a goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon. When I started training, months before I started the blog, I had no notion of qualifying for Boston. I just felt it would be a good time to run a marathon. As I lost weight and got faster (mostly through cross training), I thought it would be a great idea to set a ridiculous goal: qualify for Boston. To find out just how ridiculous this goal is, just check out this listing of my qualifications.

Yesterday, my first semi-serious run after the strained soleus, while recovering from a minor chest cold, I ran 6.2 miles (Technically, I ran 6.45. I stopped after the first ¼-mile to forcefully discharge phlegm, walked back, and started over). I finished that 6.2-mile run 11 seconds faster than my fastest time ever. Now you would think that’d be accompanied by fist pumps and jumping jacks. Not the case. It was so much slower than the time I would need to even have a slight chance of qualifying for Boston that I was upset.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

It’s bad in the sense that I should have at least given myself a pat on the back for running faster (nearly a full minute faster per mile than I ran a 10-k in June). It’s good in the sense that without a ridiculously stupid goal, I would not have improved my times as much. In addition, because there’s so much more improvement needed, there’s little chance for complacency.

So, yes goals do help us realize just how colossal are our failures, but they help us fail less than we would have unknowingly failed otherwise.

12 goals for 2012
  1. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 4 hours. I realize this goes against the blog’s URL.
  2. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 3.75 hours. So does this.
  3. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 3.50 hours. And this.
  4. Finish the Utah Valley Marathon in less than 3.25 hours and qualify for Boston. I can have multiple goals for the same event and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  5. Run the River Mountain Loop. That’s a 35-mile extremely hilly route that goes around the River Mountains, adjacent to Lake Mead, in Southern Nevada.
  6. Run the River Mountain Loop without dying.
  7. Drop an additional 15 lbs. I currently weigh 180. 180 pounds is the least I’ve weighed on New Year’s Day since I was in the 7th grade. I’m estimating that 165 pounds would be a better running weight to have any shot at goals 3 and 4. It would also make goals 1 and 2 less painful and more likely.
  8. Finish paying off my student loan. We actually had this goal for 2011. We hammered out ¾ of it last year. It’ll be done by March. What does this have to do with qualifying for the Boston Marathon? Not much. But there are some applicable principles between the two: (1) Consistent effort produced big results; (2) The goal provided motivation to work more; (3) I ate a lot of pasta.
  9. Attract more visitors to my blog. If you’re reading this then the goal’s been accomplished.
  10. The last three deal with my relationship with God and all that stuff that makes me a better father, husband, person, and runner—things like prayer, serving others, developing charity, not murdering walkers who travel three abreast on mountain trails and don’t move when I politely yell “passing on the left,” and studying divinely inspired writings. These are actually goals 1-3, not 10-12 but this is a running blog and not a religious one so I put them at the end.

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