1100 miles in 2019.
For the past 2 years, I set a goal to run a certain amount of miles. I was never a big goal-setter or resolutioner (is that a word? Well, I’m making it one.) But I decided to put pen to paper for 2017 while out on a five mile run that turned into eleven. For 2017, I set a goal to run 1000 miles and exceeded that goal by 150 miles!
For 2018, I got really ambitious and set a goal for 1250 miles. While on track early in the year, I fell way short and ran 1020 miles. As I reflect on that goal, it was not very well thought out. I just assumed I could easily run another 100 miles from what I did in 2017. I really didn’t realize what it took for me to hit 1150. I also realized that I ran over 1000 miles in 2018. I’m going to cut myself some slack and enjoy it.
I did accomplish one goal from 2018 and I’m going to carry it into 2019. That goal was to not step foot on a treadmill. Look, treadmills are great. I spent many miles on one and it served a good purpose for me while on the road or in horrible weather conditions. But I found I didn’t get the same overall benefit from a treadmill run as I did from an outdoor run. A television couldn’t replace the beauty of the outdoors. The stale, sweaty, and tire-like smell (you know what I’m talking about) of the gym couldn’t replace the smells of a new city or familiar forest preserve.
Full disclosure: I didn’t take all of my runs outdoors in 2018. I had the benefit of an indoor track in my neighborhood. It’s free to local residents and I logged a majority of my first quarter weekday morning miles there. The weekends were for the outdoors, no matter the temperature. I would join members of my running community and bundle up and venture outside in the elements. I won’t officially make a goal out of the “no treadmill” mantra because it really isn’t even an option for me anymore. Similarly, I gave up listening to music on runs in 2017 and have never looked back.
While I’ve shared my running goals for the past couple of years, people have asked if I create other personal and professional goals. I do set personal goals and I’m not sharing them with everyone because, well, they’re personal. Professionally, my goals are always the same. I aim to add one to two more bullet points to the resume than I had the previous year.
While 2018 was a very challenging professional year for me, I grew the most than I have in previous years. I was pushed to the limits to a point that almost broke me, but I was able to start a path toward repairing and rebuilding some relationships. This work will set the stage for some more growth and development, this year.
Over the past two years, I’ve discovered that setting a running goal has helped to shape the other goals and decisions in my personal and professional life. I’ve realized that it is not about hitting a certain mileage in a year, but about the journey and process to that end goal. My eating and drinking habits (mostly) are driven by the fact that I like to get up early and run. One too many IPAs and I’m not feeling so hot on the early morning runs. My energy levels and thought processes are clearer when I’m consistently putting in the miles. I am looking to tighten up the overall alcohol consumption in 2019 and get a little better at what I eat. I won’t subscribe to a particular diet, I’ll just be more mindful of what goes in.
Goals and resolutions are a lot like career advice. Everybody has an opinion and not one piece of advice is the same. So here is mine. Set goals or make resolutions if they work for you. Does writing something down motivate you to accomplish it? Then get yourself a notebook and write away. Do resolutions get you started on a path to a better you? Then make them and go for it. Not a goal-setter or one to set resolutions because you are already killing it? Awesome. Keep it up and let the goal-setters do their thing.
Find something that works for you. Draw inspiration anywhere you can get it and enjoy the ride. For me, spending money on something is a great motivator. If I pay for something, I’m going to do it. That is why I plan and sign up for my races well in advance. I already have my spring half-marathon on the books and will be signing up for my fall half very soon. Do you have any recommendations for a scenic fall half?
I also have a couple of authors I follow that align with my values and thinking. If you’re interested, check out Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. I enjoy their perspective as it relates to human performance. Their advice and research goes way outside the running shoes. Find those who inspire you.
When I tell people about my goal, I get some responses like, “Ew, I absolutely hate running, but I want to get in shape.” I always respond with, “Then don’t run. Do something that makes you happy.” There are so many other options to choose from. Just remember, nothing is going to be great when you get started. There will always be some amount of pain or discomfort when taking on a new challenge.
The key is to break up the goal into smaller increments. I can’t run 1100 miles at once. But I can run 21.15 miles per week. I can easily run about ten miles on the weekend and at least 10 miles during the week. I choose to enjoy the process of waking up and preparing to head outside. I choose to take in the sights and sounds on the run or to be engaged in the conversations with my running partners. Those moments are what drive me to lace up the Hoka’s. Not the thought of having to run 1100 miles. That’s no fun.
1100 miles. That’s the goal and I look forward to the journey. There will be great miles and there will be plenty of bad ones. There will be miles in the snow and freezing temperatures and there will be miles in the heat and humidity. Many will be run in solitude and many more in the presence of good company. All of the miles will add up to a year filled with a sense of accomplishment.