Recently I ran a 10K as part of the 2018 Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Although I did train prior to the race, I have to admit that I wasn’t totally confident I would finish. At the ripe old age of 46, when I say finish, I mean crossing the line in under one hour without walking, not even at water stations. Only that would be considered mission accomplished. Before you take on a task, it’s important to set goals, and luckily I was able to achieve my objective on that particular day.
My running companion was my friend Matt. The funny thing about Matt is, he’s actually not a runner, but he’s uber-competitive. About a year ago, he overheard me talking about a different 10K that I was planning to enter and he immediately challenged me. “I’ll run that race with you,” he said, “and I’ll beat you too.” I politely grinned and said, “Sounds cool, Matt, that’ll be fun.”
He picked me up on race day wearing an old pair of gym shoes that probably hadn’t seen the light of day in years. On the drive, we chit chatted about everything under the sun but never discussed our training regimen. We did, however, talk about our race goals, and his was very simple: to beat me. At the start, we stretched, took a quick selfie (to prove he was actually there), and agreed on a place to meet after the finish line.
Long story short, I finished before Matt and then waited for him. And waited. And waited some more. Matt eventually arrived, angry, and rushed towards the car. No words were spoken on that lonely, sweaty walk. I never told Matt my race time, but he knew he didn’t achieve his goal. To his credit, he didn’t give up. Since then, the two of us have completed five races together and, while he still hasn’t accomplished his goal, he continues to run. He even challenged me to a half marathon this autumn.
Like Matt, I may not always achieve my goals, but always feel good about what I do accomplish. My proudest moment as a runner came seven years ago when I finished a half marathon only nine months after I dislocated my kneecap falling on an ice-covered driveway. I had two goals in that race: no walking and to cross the line in two hours or less. At Mile 12 I remember thinking: I’m not sure I can do it. Although I could see the finish line, my legs were telling me it was over. I was on pace to finish in under two hours but I had hit the wall. Spoiler alert…I crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 10 seconds. I didn’t achieve my ultimate goal, but I was so proud of what I did accomplish.
Running isn’t for everyone, but no matter what you do, setting goals is a vital part of success. Achieving them is almost beside the point; challenging yourself is what’s most important. So take a lesson from my friend Matt and set a few goals for yourself this week. You could focus on a fitness objective or on making healthier food choices. Start off with small, achievable goals and celebrate yourself for a good try. Never give up and remember that you can do it!