On Saturday, May 17th, 2014, I will run 100 miles.
Or at least that is the goal. Only it’s more than just a goal, because I’m certain it will be a reality.
On Setting Goals
I spent the last week accompanying Matt Frazier and Matt Ruscigno on the No Meat Athlete book tour. We stopped in several different towns and cities along the route from Phoenix to Austin, where the two Matts introduced the book and gave a short talk about the book and about their stories.
During each stop, Matt Frazier would tell his story of setting a goal several years ago to run the Boston Marathon. That may not seem like a life changing goal for some, but considering he needed to cut more than 100 minutes off his first marathon time just to qualify, it wasn’t going to come easy.
The goal was a doozy. At first most people doubted him. He even failed repeatedly during the first several attempts.
But Matt never doubted himself, set on succeeding.
Over time, people started to believe as well. A growing number of friends and family came to his races, one after another, fail after fail. They came out to root for him, even when any sane person knew a Boston Qualifier was a long shot.
And as Matt reflects back on those years now, the support was no surprise,
It’s why we love movies like Rudy and Rocky, where the hero sets his sights on a ridiculous goal, goes after it, and gets knocked down every time, only to get back up, again and again and again.
But as inspiring as it is to watch someone in this situation, I can tell you from experience that it feels even better to actually be the person doing it, and to see others being inspired by what you’re doing.
Avoiding Big Goals is Easy
See, setting big goals is hard. It’s scary to think about failing, embarrassing yourself in front of family, friends, or blog readers. It’s terrifying to consider the major letdown that often consumes you when a major goal isn’t reached.
To avoid that fear, we often avoid the goals all together. In the short term, it feels a lot easier to just go about life with no big goals, enjoying the each day as it comes.
As Seth Godin puts it in an old blog post,
If you don’t have a goal (a corporate goal, a market share goal, a personal career goal, an athletic goal…) then you can just do your best. You can take what comes. You can reprioritize on a regular basis. If you don’t have a goal, you never have to worry about missing it. If you don’t have a goal you don’t need nearly as many excuses, either.
Without a running goal, I don’t need to push myself or run when I don’t feel like it. If I don’t race next year, no one will notice. Hell, I could even take the entire holiday season off! Uh oh, this is starting to sound a little too good.
But what Seth says later is also true,
…the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.
Now that is the kind of person I want to be.
Why 100 Miles, Why Now
Ever since the first time I read about ultramarathons, I was immediately sucked in by the lure of the 100 mile race.
Slow, painful strides for what seems like an unfathomable distance to run. Often more than 24 hours of forward progress, through the heat of the day and the chill of the night.
That first time, when I thought of pushing my body and mind to a place I never even dreamed of, it was so compelling. I’m still craving it two years later.
But I told very few people about this dream. Maybe I’d mention it offhandedly, or said, “oh I’d like to do that some day,” but I never set the goal.
I never picked a race or announced to friends, family, and the world that I will be running a 100 mile race.
Inspired by the words of Matt and Seth, tired of putting off something just because I’m scared to fail, and ready to push past what I once believed impossible, I’m telling you now, I will be running 100 miles on May 17th.
There will always be a reason to avoid setting a big goal.
- You’ll always think you’re too busy.
- The risks will always seem too big.
- And you’ll always think of something else, something easier, that could be done first.
But those are just excuses masking the real reason you haven’t made that goal declaration.
I’m going to go ahead and say it’s time we take a risk together and set the goals we’ve been putting off. I hope you’ll follow me in putting yourself out there this year.
Set the goal. Take the risk.
Because as Matt said earlier,
It feels ever better to actually BE the person doing it, and to see others being inspired by what you’re doing.
P.S. – For those curious, I have two races in mind on that date. One requires entry through a lottery, and the other will serve as a backup if getting into the first doesn’t work out. I will post more race details once the race as been determined.