Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Goal setting for runners

I set my first life goal when I was 11 years old. It was 1976, and I was in a gang.... There were five of us. We specialized in small time stuff, like skipping our cub scout meetings and chasing girls during recess. We called ourselves the Bicentennial Minutemen.

That is when I learned to like running. If you were fast, you caught the girl:) I wasn't very fast. But I did have $.25 a week from the money my mom gave me for cub scout dues to invest in my future. I was a real planner. I put that $.25 into candy at the 7-Eleven every single week. Some things never change.

My first goal was a doozy. I was having so much fun that I wanted to be alive to celebrate the tricentennial. I decided right then that I would live to be 111 years old. Talk about starting off with a stretch goal...

When I get home from work at night, I have a goal. I try to find a way to get out of walking the dogs. If I fail at my first goal, I set another. To not to run into a single human being while I am walking the dogs. If I fail at that goal, I set another. To definitely do not run into another human being that is walking their dog!

What is your goal?

I am going to run in the 2010 Disneyworld Marathon. My first marathon. I have another goal. It is to finish the marathon in under 4 hours. That is a 9:16 pace. Currently when doing a 6 mile run, I usually have about a 10 minute pace. I have another goal. It is to get under 170 pounds, look tight, and be able to wear a swimming suit in public (I can wear one now, but it scares children and old people). These are all related to my overall goal of being in shape. Being healthy. Making better choices. Following through on commitments I make to myself.

And these are all part of my goal to be partying like a 111 year old rock star on July 4th, 2076.

I do pretty good on commitments I make to others. It's the ones I make to myself that are sometimes on shaky ground...

What about you? What is your goal? Do you have one? Is it big picture, like "I want to start running and get in shape?" Or is it specific, like " I want to run a minimum of twice per week, logging at least 30 miles a month for the next six months." Do you want to start exercising? What is the outcome you are looking for, and what are the specific steps it will require to get you there?

It's kind of like the difference between "I want to retire in the Caribbean"... and "I want to put $200 per week into stocks, buy one rental property per year for the next 14 years, create an online company by 2012 that will generate $55,000 per year income from my laptop anywhere in the world, and purchase my condo in St Thomas by Jan. 1, 2018, and I retire on March 3rd 2027.

Get specific.

I swear to Pre, I believe in SMART goals. They are the time tested sure fire way to accomplish what you want. But when it comes to running, I just want to run. I get more joy from sweating my a$$ of during a crazy hot six miler around the city than I can explain without sounding stupid. I just want to run.

But I am lazy.


Tough to admit. Especially to every single person on the planet with internet access. Check this out. In a couple days, Google this posting. Look up "Run Into Shape" and "Goal Setting for runners", together. You will find it. What I am trying to say is, I just told EVERYONE on the planet... I AM LAZY. Effing admit it. You might read this because sometimes it is funny (Hey, I try). But you also might be reading this because once in a while you need a kick in the pants to get your a$$ up off the couch, into your running shoes, and out in the streets.

Everyone is lazy... Sometimes. That is why we set goals.

Everyone of you reading this does something for a living, inside or outside the home. For yourself, or for the man. And every single one of those careers that you all do, have goals involved, one way or another.

Do you sell cars? I sold cars for a year once. Not my cup of tea. Had a hard time putting a little old lady in a 1987 Hundai and telling her it was a great car. Because of that small integrity issue, I sometimes had a hard time hitting my goals. (o.k., that, and I was a crappy car salesman).

Do you schlep drinks. I was a bartender for some of the best years of my life (shout out to all who provide cocktails to the rest of us...). Guess what. We had goals every shift.

Everyone has goals. They hold us accountable. When they are business goals, they hold you accountable to your boss. They hold you accountable for your actions. They hold you accountable to your word.

Running goals are exactly the same. They give you something to measure yourself against. They give you something to shoot for. They give you something to hold yourself accountable for. They let you know if you have succeeded.

The big difference is, running goals are mainly for yourself. Do you sometimes hit snooze and go back to sleep? So you sometimes forget your shoes, and not be able to run? That is called NOT holding yourself accountable. That is why I write this blog. I helps me keep myself accountable for my running. And since I sometimes falter in keeping my word to myself, I make my goals public. I am less likely to flake out on a goal that I have told the whole planet about.

In my case, my goal is to run. But if I don't give myself a big goal to work towards, my lazy, weight gaining, junk food eatin, T.V. watchin tendencies will sneak right back up to the front row. I'll be right back up there at 212 pounds. I don't look good yet... but I looked like shit at 212!

Set a goal. I want to get in shape. I want to run. Now make it specific and measurable. I want to run a 10k (marathon, 5k, half marathon, 4 miles per week...), whatever it is. Make sure it is attainable. Is it realistic? Now make it time based. Example. My goal is to run the Disneyworld Marathon on January 10, 2010, in under 4 hours.

Is that a SMART Goal. I guess we shall see come January.

I want to use this large goal as my dream. It is what motivates me to set my medium goals like running 4 days per week. Running at least 20 miles per week through August. Then starting a 16 week training program September 21st.

What is a short term goal. Mine are things like getting out of bed early enough on Saturday to put in 8 miles before it reaches 100'. Or to not eat the damn snacks people leave in the break room everyday.

What is your goal? What do you want to do? What challenge do you want to conquer? Is it written down? Is it smart? Have you told anyone? How do you plan to hold yourself accountable? What practices are you putting in place to keep you on track? Do you post it by your desk at work? Do you have it hanging from your bathroom mirror to see every morning while your getting ready for work? What will it take to get you out of bed?

Here is my challenge to you. Make a goal. Whatever you want to accomplish. Post it in the comments section at the bottom of this blog. Write it down on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you have to see it every day. Put your name with it. Make it public. Make it proud.

My goal when I was 11 was to give up my gang bangin ways, and to live for another century. I succeeded in the first part, and am still working on the rest.My belief is that publicly declared goals work best...

What is your goal?


  1. First off: I think I love you Adam-in the most appropriate way. Like there was never a 20 year span of silence between us. You really have my respect! Enough about that.

    I am publicly stating my top 2 goals that will span 8 years.

    First, my husband has worked so hard and for so long, put his family first- ALWAYS AND FROM THE BEGINNING. I need to get on board with him and his philosophy of how we treat our hard earned income.

    I have been doing good on paying off debt, and it feels good to see the results.

    We have no credit card debt, but we just had to finance a beast of a lawn mower since our John Deere was on it's last leg. The mower is as much as a small car.

    Long story short: I want to be completly debt free in 5 years--mortgage and all.

    I Goal #2 is easier. I want to get back out there and run and lift weights and workout like i did so religously for 3 years.

    I set the goal of running the half marathon in Evansville last October. I trained almost everyday, I ran all the warm up runs, Kevin was bursting with pride. I ran the Half in 2.5 hours and felt pride in my accomplishment.

    Goal optained...and nothing.

    I needed to set another goal, even if it was another half. I just stopped. I love working out and running-all of it. I GOT LAZY

    So I PAID to register in all the warm ups and the half 3 months ago to make myself get out there and do it.

    So, tomorrow we run the first warm up run. A 5K. I am looking forward to getting back into fitness and health.

    I kind of feel good about getting it out in the open.

    Thanks Adam

    You mad man!


  2. Kimberly,what can I say, but thank you. Thank you for letting me back into your lives after to long away. Thank you for the nice words. I thank you for making me feel like I can be a part of your running regiment, if only through words. And thank you for loving that rat bastard old frind of mine. Still:)

  3. I discovered your blog by chance a few weeks ago,and have really enjoyed the updates and your style. I am a jogger who wants to do better or faster and more. I appreciate the motivation I get from your blog and hope to return some motivation to you in some way as this continues...