What is the biggest goal you’ve achieved to date?
Where do your thoughts turn when I ask that question; to school, competition, career, diet, or exercise? I think about the areas in my life where I have set goals and achieved them. In school I tried out for a number of teams, choirs and plays. Each one forced me to “practice, practice” to meet a certain standard. There were ranks to be achieved in Boy Scouts – Eagle Scout and numerous merit badges. Now most of my goals require even more self-discipline; I want to write more, run farther, faster, read more, and travel more. These all deserve their due attention and the same balance that I mentioned needs to be present within diet and regular exercise. This is not a post about running – it is about setting goals.
On my 29th birthday in 2008, I ran my first marathon. Most advice says to not aim for a particular time on your first but to aim to finish. Though I tried to keep that in mind, my competitive nature wouldn’t allow for that. I wanted to run it in under 4:00:00 (that’s four hours). I ran that first marathon in 3:53. In total, I have now run a dozen and am looking forward to lucky 13 in May. Each race, I set a goal to PR (run a Personal Record). In Austin in 2010, I ran a 3:31. Races that followed would land me in the 3:30’s but nothing greater. After an Achilles injury sidelined me for months in 2011, I returned to the Austin Marathon in 2012 with a goal of PR’ing. I ran that race in 3:24!! Still I wanted to run faster and faster, an ultimate goal is to run the Boston Marathon (which I need to run a sub-3:05 or continue to get older, as the more time is allowed for older age groups). I trained throughout the summer, even with my tremendous amount of travel. Long runs in Texas heat surely made this difficult. I adjusted my diet for this race, added strength training, aimed for better sleep, took iron supplements and come race day (October 27, 2012) knew that I had done what was needed. The favorable weather, my preparation and a few prayers along the way got me across the finish line in 3:17.
Should I be asked again in five years, or even in six months, I will not answer the question the same way. Whether it is something I’ve run or something I’ve written, I will continue to improve goal-setting. Hopefully you can do the same.