I am a driven person.
By now, most people know that.
I set goals, and go get them, that is just how I have always done things.
Chances are, that is the way may of you have done things too.
How would you possibly stay motivated to do something that requires effort without a goal, without something to work towards?
Goals are good, right?
They keep us on track, but they can also keep us so close to the tracks that we miss out on other, better things, and we also end up wishing our lives away.
For 15 years, my running paralleled the rest of my life.
I would set a BIGGGG running goal, then I would set lots of little ones as stepping-stones on my way there. In my life, I may not have had the BIGGGG goal of a career path I always wanted to follow, but I knew I wanted to be successful and happy in what I did and I had lots of steps to complete along the way.
The biggest goal of my life was to have a family, and I have now officially accomplished that one as Steve and I took our leap from couple to family.
While Bailey has been so young, all of my goals, running and otherwise have been put on hold. I didn’t know how I would handle being a parent. I didn’t want to miss out on these precious moments that are already going by so fast.
Making goals didn’t make any sense, they would pull me away from focusing on what is important, the right now. Instead my mind would be on the future, would be on achieving that goal and celebrating that moment.
The finish line gives us an incredible satisfaction when we know we have accomplished what we set out to do, but parenting gives you an incredible satisfaction in a different way; day after day as you see a smile or see them discover something new for the first time. You wouldn’t want to “just get through” those moments to get to the day where they are old enough to look after themselves.
But you do end up thinking that way, and then you feel guilty for thinking so.
There are moments you wonder if it is all worth it. There are moments when I am exhausted and Bailey will not stop crying where I think to myself, “I just can’t take this”, but even right then, in that struggle, in that moment of frustration, I still have a beautiful little girl in my arms, and that in itself is something I HAVE to remember is a blessing and a gift. One day, probably when she is a teenager and doesn’t even want to be in the same room as me, I will look back on that moment and wish more than anything I could have it again. I try to remind myself that even the tough parts, when she just will not go back to sleep at 3am, that THIS, right here, right now is what it is all about.
We find ourselves doing it in our running lives too, well I was anyway.
Always thinking about the end result, thinking about how good it is going to feel when you get there, almost wishing the time again, thinking about surviving rather than thriving in the moment that allow that end result to happen.
Just like for you.
If you are in the middle of a tough training segment for a hard race. You may have thoughts of skipping ahead to race day (although we all know when you are in race week, you wish you never thought that!!), and you just want it to be over so you can celebrate, those hard days, the hard moments where you just want to quit and not even bother. Those are the memories you will reflect on and smile, that you got out there and did the best you could, that you did what felt right at the time. Sometimes we do quit either mentally, physically, or both, but we are still DOING IT.
And if you do struggle and let that inner voice take you over, what do you do the next time? Try, try again.
You GET to run, this is an opportunity you have.
You could be injured or sick, and if you are (or have been), you would give ANYTHING to be out there running, just as many people would do ANYTHING to be in my position right now with a two month old baby.
Becoming complacent is always going to happen, we are always going to end up taking things for granted, no matter how grateful we are after a reality check, but one thing I will say:
If you are finding yourself constantly focusing on the finish line, on the qualifying time, on the result, it might be time to make a change. I KNOW you really want that big goal, but maybe that goal is sucking the fun out of your running and making it even less likely to happen. Read THIS post if you keep missing your goals, no matter how hard you try.
Right now I am in a stage where I am just running what I can, when I can. Even if I did want to sign up for a race, it wouldn’t be realistic to, but I am just enjoying having no goal, no expectations, and no pressure.
Sure, I could sign up for a race tomorrow, put my head down, get into shape and give myself the opportunity to race well, but after all those years of having goals and focusing on them, it is very refreshing to just be with my running. I am enjoying it more than I have in years, and I am enjoying my life in this new rewarding way, because I am able to dedicate myself to Bailey and my family.
You might not have a new baby in your life (or if you do, this is especially the time to listen to me!), but you might have something else that is bringing you fulfillment, making you feel alive, and if that is the case, don’t feel like you HAVE to follow the crowd and keep chasing down a running goal. It doesn’t mean you can’t run, it doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself, but it means you can have the freedom to follow your heart, do what you want when you want.
You are no less of a runner that way, and actually, it takes a lot more bravery to step back and admit that running being your life right now isn’t what you really want, you want balance and joy, which is coming from other areas of your life.
And you never know, without the pressure, if you jump in a race, the result may surprise you 🙂