In order to be successful, a person needs to set goals or else there is no way of being able to measure that success. When I ran track and cross country in high school, I remember a discussion on goal setting, which has stuck with me ever since. Before a big race, we were always taught to have three goals. The first goal was a realistic goal. The second a hard goal. The third a dream goal. This past July during Badwater, I stuck to this 3 goal system. Being physically trained for an event is important for obvious reasons, but I feel like its only half the battle. Having set goals and being mentally prepared for an event is just as important.
In high school track, my favorite event was the mile. I didn’t quite have the leg speed for the 800m and the 2 mile was just too long and boring… says the ultra distance runner. My realistic goal for the race was a goal I set for myself that wasn’t necessarily “easy,” but it was a time that I had hit in the past and that I could with out a doubt accomplish. Back in high school, it was breaking 6 minutes in the mile. This year at Badwater, since it was my first time running the race, it was “simply” finishing the event in under the 48 hour time limit and getting my coveted belt buckle.
I feel like this goal is important to have because it is good to have a goal to fall back on. During races, CF competitions or whatever sporting events you’re participating in, things don’t always go the way you planned them out to be. Maybe a nagging injury flares up or there is an exercise in a WOD that you haven’t mastered yet. It doesn’t mean you should just give up and quit, but you should be able to roll with the punches and deal with the problem in front of you During Badwater, my hip started hurting unexpectedly around mile 35 of the race, which I feel like slowed me down a little, since I had to stop for to ice, stretch and have it massaged periodically. However, just because I got thrown a curve ball, didn’t mean I was going to give up. It meant resorting to a different goal, something that I could still accept and be proud of in the end. Last year when I ran the Javelina 100, I had one goal, which was to run a sub 24 hour 100 mile race. When an injury came up half way through the race and threw me off my goal pace, I dropped from the race, when realistically I still could have walked and finished the race. In the end, I regretted my decision. Instead of quitting I should have resorted to a different goal of just finishing the race.
*side note: I do not suggest running through serious injuries!
A hard goal is a goal that you really have to push yourself for. For example, setting a new personal record in a race or finally mastering a new still in CrossFit….. Muscle Up, I will conquer you soon!
During Badwater my hard goal was finishing under 40 hours. Since I had never run this race before, I couldn’t break any of my previous records, but I knew that if I really wanted to finish in under 40, I would have to push myself hard and allow things to hurt a little bit. This goal is really about how bad you want something. During Badwater, the thought of not finishing the race never crossed my mind, but I had some really low points where I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to be able to reach this goal. Around mile 115 though, it was as if a light went off in my head reminding me how hard I had trained for this race and how bad I wanted to get that sub 40 hour finish. My hip still hurt, my feet ached, it was hot out, I was pretty much over running, but I was determined to get under 40 hours. My pacer, Traci, joined me out on the road, we both put our iPods on, I put my head down and we started booking it….at a speedy pace of 11-12 minute miles! At that point in the race though, that was flying for me and I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone, but it was exhilarating. I finished the race in 38 hours and 53 minutes, reaching my “hard” goal. Knowing that I gave all that I had left in me out on that course was an incredible feeling and worth every second of pain and suffering that I endured to reach that goal.
This goal is one that you may not ever reach. It may even be kind of ridiculous. It is a goal that keeps you motivated to keep coming back for more. Not to say it could never happen, but it would happen on one of those days when you’re going balls to the wall and everything falls perfectly into place. In high school, it was to run a 5:20 mile. I never reached that goal, but boy did I try to. My fastest ever was a 5:39, which I was completely thrilled with, but of course I didn’t just want to stop there, I always wanted to keep improving. For Badwater, it would be running under 30 hours or winning the race. But now having run the race, I know areas in which I can improve on so that someday maybe I can hit that goal. However, even if I were to hit that goal, I would just set a new dream goal. The sky is the limit so DREAM BIG and so always keep striving for improvement.
Keys to help sticking with goals:
1. “The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.”
Come up with a game plan or strategy as to how you will reach your goal. Don’t just wing it and then have high expectations! While training for Badwater, I had the help of a coach who had run the race before and planned out my workouts for me weekly.
2. “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”
Always surround yourself with positive people who believe in you or have similar goals.
3. ”Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
There will always be negative people who don’t think you can do something. Instead of letting them get to you, turn that negativity into motivation to prove them wrong!
4. “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
This year at Badwater, there was a 70 year old man who finished and beat me by 5 hours! If you really want something, never use age as an excuse.
5. “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
If you are thinking of doing an event, sign up! It will help hold you accountable. Plus, no one likes to lose out on money!
6. “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong
Tell friends and family your goals. When you make them public, you are much more likely to stick to them, rather than having to go back and tell them your lame excuse for quitting. Being sidelined with a serious injury is one thing, but I would hate to tell people I quit a race because I was tired or it was hard. And more importantly, I would be angry with myself.
7. “I’ve worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals. I will not let my teammates down and I will not let myself down.” – Mia Hamm
Think of the reasons why YOU want to achieve your goal and constantly remind yourself of them.
8. “To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.”
Never be afraid to set your goals high. Your body is TOUGH and can do more than you think could ever be possible.
9. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”
When you feel tired and lazy, remember there is always someone out there working harder than you…
10. ”When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
When you achieve a goal, its ok to savor the moment. Be proud of yourself!