Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Good Thing About Goals ...

... is that they are changeable. Sometimes you can modify a goal to make it more easily attainable. Sometimes you can made a goal more difficult in order to stretch your abilities. Sometimes you can just kick a goal to the curb because it just doesn't fit you anymore. Goals are just what we should make them - something we want to achieve, but readily modified or abandoned to best suit our lives.

Seven years ago, I wogged my first marathon (for those of you running purists, that is a walking/jogging pace, perfectly suited to us woggers and alien to you). Completing a marathon was a goal that I had set for myself in 2000. I really had no plans after the marathon to continue to participate in races. But I got hooked.

In the past seven years, I have completed 37 races. I've done races ranging from 5, 10, 12, and 15Ks (and planning for my first 13K in two weeks), to 5, 10, 13.1, and 26.2 miles (not including two 60-mile, 3-day Breast Cancer walks). I've even done some races back to back, including the Goofy Challenge at Disney World, where I did a half marathon one day, and a full marathon the next. One would think that after all these races, I would be one swift runner. Nope - I've stayed pretty much a wogger.

In some races, I've had a certain time I wanted to achieve. Sometimes I made that time and sometimes I didn't. But in every race, my one goal has been to finish, and it's taken a few different strategies. In some races, I sang to complete one more mile. In some, I wanted to cry to finish one more mile. In some, I wanted to curse to finish one more mile. In the Marine Corps Marathon, I had a "rabbit" - a woman in a turquoise shirt that I would see ahead, then catch up to, then she would run ahead, and I would catch up again. At the end, we finished together and shared a victory hug (not that we won, but that we finished before they packed up the finish line).

I am back training again after a month off. My training runs always start the same. The first half-mile I am deciding exactly how far I will jog before I start walking. By the time I reach the first half-mile, I decide I probably can do a full mile. I keep setting goals (the next mailbox, the stop sign) until eventually I get to the mile and one-half mark, then I decide I will finish jogging my two miles.

Recently I decided to up my miles-jogged to three miles. My goal was to jog two miles (bargaining with myself all the way), then keep running a few more yards each day until I jogged three miles. Well, today I jogged the three miles. I just kept going, albeit slower and slower (as if that were possible), until that last half mile, and I knew I could do it.

That's the thing about achieving a goal - it can come quicker then expected. All you have to do is continue to train and push yourself. I still don't have any particular goals for my wogging, except to get a stronger and faster. But even to achieve this rather vague goal, I know I have to commit to training and pushing myself a little bit more each day.

Today I will celebrate because I achieved a goal. I will enjoy the victory for a few days, then set another one. Wonder how many more mailboxes are in four miles?