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Redefining goals

The list is on my refrigerator. I see it every day though some days it blends into clutter of posted schedules, to-do compilations and a few random pictures.

My goals list has been displayed since I created it with my coach back in October.

Today I checked back in with it.

The list is divided into three sets of goals: small, medium and large.

The large goals include my two big races: the Buffalo Marathon and Muskoka 70.3.

The medium list already has a checked accomplishment -- I ran a sub-2:15 half marathon in Miami in January. That sub-25 minute 5K goal though is looming, and perhaps most daunting.

The small list has things I can do every day, building blocks for those medium and big goals. That list is primarily mental:

Good nutrition, but no OCD.

Reduce negative self talk.

Keep it simple: Nothing hinges on one thing.

As big and scary as the big and medium lists can be when it comes to this set of goals, the small goals actually are the hardest.

Probably because they are the ones most in my control.

And they are the ones about lining up my attitude and beliefs with my behaviors.

My coach, who is training for a round of key 70.3 races this summer herself, recently began working with a new coach who gave her different definitions of goals.

Instead of small, medium and large this paradigm has goals, targets and outcomes.

Outcomes are what we all tend to focus on -- race times, winning and where you place.

Targets are tangible measurements but without the comparison to other people -- your pace for example.

Goals meanwhile are all things within your control. In essence, your goal constitutes your mental approach -- thinking that you will be strong, that you won't give up, that you will stick to your race plan. Because it only has to do with what you think, it is all in your control.

As I pondered these definitions, I realized that my small list was really my goal list. And that on that list perhaps the most important thing for me is realize that nothing hinges on one thing.

It even applies to the rest of the small list. If nothing hinges on one thing, then there isn't much room for negative self talk because suddenly nothing is catastrophic. Nor could I get all nutty over falling off the nutrition wagon because there is little chance that a small ice cream sundae with my running friends once every two or three weeks is going to cause much damage to my overall status as a healthy eater.

And so as I mentally prepare for my longest training run in my marathon preparation, I will realize that there is no point in thinking about the actual marathon during that three hour and 15 minute span on Saturday. I will think about my pace, but not obsess over it. I simply will hit it.

Most importantly, I'll be working on my real goals, the ones where I remind myself that I'm strong and capable. In the end, that's really all I can control.

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