October 18, 2008 - 8:00 AM
Setting goals, quite frankly, has always been difficult for me.
Not the big goals -- the eye on the prize items. I've always been good at naming those, working toward them and, pretty much, achieving them.
It's the medium and small lists -- all the tiny specifics -- that sometimes seem to trip me up. I don't know if it's because I'm a slave to uncertainity (what happens if I don't make it?) or an overdose of humility (who am I to think I can do that?) but those types of goals always feel a bit uncomfortable.
Which is probably why Coach Mary forced me to make a list of goals.
The Big List includes the two main events of 2009: The Buffalo Marathon and the Muskoka 70.3 race.
The Medium List is where things get scary. First order on the list, improve in all disciplines, especially swimming. OK. I can handle that.
But then she added these: To run a sub-25 minute 5K race and to run a sub-2:15 half marathon in Miami in January.
OK, the half marathon goal doesn't scare me so much. I ran a 2:16 in St. Catharines last month. But a 25-minute 5K? My best 5K time is 28:26. She wants me to drop three minutes off my 5K time? Is she insane?
Then I caught a blog by Ironman athlete Linsey Corbin. For four months before Kona, her husband made her say her goals outloud every morning. Her goals included finishing the Ironman in 9 hours and 30 minutes with a top 10 finish. She finished in 9:28, was fifth overall and the first American female finisher.
"What you can conceive and believe you will achieve," Corbin writes.
"I started to state my goals outloud in training when I was struggling or thinking about it while waiting in line at the grocery store. ... I just want to encourage you all that anything is possible and the sky is truly the limit."
So if you see me running and start saying "sub-25 5K" or "sub 2:15 at Miami" don't be alarmed. I'm just conceiving and believing.
Last but not least, there is the Small List. This includes such tidbits as keeping it simple and remembering that nothing hinges on one thing. One missed workout, one missed 100 in the pool one skip off the plan, is not going to jeapordize the big picture. This is not an all or nothing proposition. This is not Project Runway where you are either in or out. It's all a process.
Also on the small list is to continue my good nutrition, my healthy diet, without going OCD. One of the best moments for my coach last year was when I stopped counting calories. Keeping a food journal served a purpose, but getting obsessive about my calorie intake would ultimately drive me crazy. So I stopped, ate healthy food and allowed myself to have things like pizza and cake and cookies and ice cream in moderation. And my weight seems just fine and my energy is good to go. So this year, I need to continue that thinking and get even better at it.
Finally on my small list -- reduce negative self talk. I'm a positive person, but sometimes when things become a struggle, I start to pay attention to the doubts. I need to counter that better this year -- a skill which will serve me well in many areas of my life, not just in my marathon and triathlon training.
I've posted my goals above my desk so I look at them every day.
I may just start saying them out loud every day, too. Because really, all that matters is what I tell myself.