One source defines goal setting as “the process of identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and time frames.” Looking back over 2016 I am thinking about flexibility more than goals.
According to the two running apps I used in 2016, Endomodo and Strava, I’ve run a total of 327 miles. I missed using these apps many times though so I estimate my total is closer to 380 miles. It makes me think back on those training sessions as a collection of memories on the paths and City streets. The change of the seasons. Street sounds. Passersby. Light through the trees. Rain on my skin. Heat of the sun on my back. Bracing cold blasts across my face and legs during the Autumn and Winter training. I ran a 20-mile race in Fall (coming in second to last), two half marathons, a 15k, a 10k, the Turkey Trot as an oddball 5 miler, and four or five 5ks. I missed my dream of doing the Columbus full marathon, the result of a seriously sprained ankle, but I have not given up the hope of doing one in 2017.
Last winter I battled cardiac depression which impacted my running and workout efforts. I’ve used that experience afterwards to remain vigilant and keep lacing up my shoes. Running through the cold dark Ohio months.
My motivational mantra is something I picked up from a fellow runner “I run because someday I won’t be able to… but today is not that day.” It is while writing this that I realize I am running without any real goals at all. I’m doing all this because I can. Not because it is better for you than walking, lifting or Yoga. Because it’s fun. It leaves me feeling like I have had the best meditation session. I love the sensations along the way. Interacting with other runners. I enjoy the feeling of being in motion. I love feeling my heart beating in rhythm with my running shoes. It makes me feel grateful for the experience. Grateful for the strength to do it.
So if I run my first full marathon in 2017, so be it. But I won’t stop doing what I’m doing in the process unless I have to make adjustments. There were two things which dampened my motivation in 2016. One was a serious sprain in the right ankle at the beginning of July. The second was a set of bruised ribs at the beginning of December. These kinds of setbacks teach us to be flexible. Accept what they are for the temporary conditions they present to us. They remind us of illusion and impermanence. That the action of setting goals, as defined earlier, is a process that lives on a sliding scale of life. Missing goals should never demotivate us but rather it should, like depression, give us new information that we can use to achieve better outcomes in the future. Failure is only negative if you don’t use it to your advantage.
It’s this spirit that I want to kindle in 2017. I’m ready for my share of success and failure on the running path because it’s part of the experience. It’s the beauty of life itself. So if I hit between 600 & 800 miles by the end of next year as part of my “goals” then that’s what it will be. If not, I will have a new collection of cherished memories from the runs I completed. I win either way.
So thank you 2016 and hello 2017.