In 2011, my husband was on his third military deployment in 3 years. Even though I had gotten pretty ‘good’ at handling these long 6-8 month absences, they were still hard. The lonliness of having your loved one away for long periods of time with only sporadic contact, and the fear of having this loved one in danger… It’s heavy. I needed something, a coping mechanism, a distraction, a GOAL.
“A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.” – Joe Vitale
It was January – 3 months in, 5 months to go. I was tired of the waiting game. Counting down the days but not really enjoying the present. What kind of goal could keep me motivated for 5 whole months? At this point in my life, I was working in the fitness industry as an instructor and manager, and long hours meant that my physical activity usually stayed within the confines of the gym. I had always enjoyed running, but had fallen out of a regular running routine. That’s when a group of girlfriends and I decided … the goal would be … training for my very first half marathon. We would train together, follow a schedule, and run 13.1 miles in May. It was a little scary, but also really exciting!
“Life can pull you down. But running always lifts you up.” – Jenny Hadfield
I was amazed at how having this goal and training for it changed EVERYTHING. When I woke up in the morning, I felt motivated and inspired, not just lonely or sad. It gave a little extra meaning to every day because I was working toward this goal. As I started running more, I realized that how good it made me feel was spilling over into the rest of my life. This was POWERFUL. This was the beginning of my adult relationship with running. In my younger years, running was associated with exercise, staying in shape, looking a certain way. Now, as an adult, running was about freedom, gratitude, confidence, love. About getting outside and connecting with others. About coping with sorrow and searching for joy. I also realized the power of setting goals, working toward goals, falling short of goals, crushing goals and setting new goals.
“Acknowledge all of your small victories. They will eventually add up to something great.” – Kara Goucher
When we are growing up, goals are sort of built into the fabric of our lives. Graduate from high school, get into college, score your dream job, or try to figure out what that might be. As an adult, sometimes we stop setting goals. We get wrapped up in the day to day routine, and we forget that we should be working toward something that makes us better, that makes us proud, that allows us to challenge ourselves and learn from it. This cycle of goal setting has truly enriched my adult life. It started with training for a half marathon to cope with a tough time in my life. But it set in motion a lifestyle that centers on progress, improvement, growth, and sometimes failure. The thing about goals is that they quench your thirst momentarily, but they also leave you thirsty for more. And I say cheers to that! Since 2011, I’ve completed 18 half marathons and 7 full marathons, with more big goals in store for 2018!
So, where do you start? Here are 5 simple steps to set RAD goals on the road and in your life!
Step 1: BE YOU. Good goals have personal meaning. They should be things you want to achieve for yourself, not to meet someone else’s expectations. Training to reach a goal requires a lot of hard work. When you hit a tough stretch, either physically or mentally, if the goal you’re working toward has deep significance for you, you’ll find a way to persevere. Most of us have enough areas in our lives where we have to meet others’ expectations. Let your running and non-running goals be about your own hopes and dreams.
Step 2: BE SPECIFIC. Good goals are specific, not broad. The broader the goal, the less meaningful it can be, and the more murky it becomes. There should be no ambiguity here. For example: “I want to run 30 seconds faster in my next 5K” instead of “I want to run faster,” or “I want to run 5 days a week” instead of “I want to run more.” Once you identify exactly what you want to accomplish, that will help you decide how to go about doing it.
Step 3: BE REAL. A good goal is challenging but realistic. Your goals should require you to reach outside of your comfort zone while remaining within the realm of possibility. To work toward your ultimate goal, set shorter-term goals. Decide where you should be at the end of each month leading up to your goal, and then break those months into week-by-week progress reports toward that month-end goal. Every week, evaluate your progress. Look at this process as a learning experience rather than success or failure.
Step 4: BE TIMELY. It’s human nature to be motivated by a deadline. Having a date by which to reach your goal helps you plan how to reach it. For most of us, 3 to 6 months is a good range for achieving a main goal. That’s enough time to do the work to achieve it, but also close enough to remain motivated on a daily basis.
Step 5: BE GRATEFUL. Remind yourself that life, that moving your body is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Reframe your goal not as a task that has to be done, but as a wonderful gift. Every step is a victory to be cherished and celebrated.
If you’re looking to set goals for the coming year, we invite you to check out our 2018 SIB Mileage Club. The SIB Mileage Club is an online community that supports and inspires each member to accomplish a self-selected yearly mileage goal. To learn more and to join our VIRTUAL girl gang with goals, visit: http://runsheisbeautiful.com/sibcommunity/#event_details
By: Katie Gott, Group Fitness Instructor, Running Coach, and Community Coordinator for She.is.beautiful