Goal by definition is 1. The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective. 2. Something that you are trying to do or achieve
Nowhere in the definition of GOAL does it say that it is a guarantee. It is something you are working towards, something that gives your training purpose but it is not a guarantee.
I believe in goals and place a lot of emphasis on goals, not only in my running life but in my life in general. I believe this is what motivates us as people. Thomas Carlyle’s famous quote, “A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder”, is one of my favorite. Not all of my goals are epic and life shattering but they’re still goals. They keep me moving in a positive direction.
I have found that with running you must have a goal. It sets the stage for your training. It gives you something to reach for and gives you purpose on days you don’t want to train. It keeps you moving forward. “The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get, ” says Jim Rohn. Having a goal teaches you discipline and sacrifice. Goals teach you about yourself.
I have come across a few scenarios in my profession in which I feel people are really missing the point of having a goal:
1) “I raced but didn’t get my goal…(so I failed) or (my training didn’t work)” – Goals are not guaranteed and a missed goal doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard or train properly. Goals should be tough to attain. That means it’s a good goal. That means it is something you have had to work hard to either attain or get near. If you know that you put in 100% during training and 100% on race day, you just have to know that some days simply aren’t your day.
2) “I may not race (or I may quit mid-race) because I don’t think I can get my goal” – What?! You’ll certainly never get it if you don’t try. This is one that drives me nuts. Many professional runners will begin a race and if the race starts to slip from them, they’ll bail. I get it when they are battling an injury and they have their career on the line but I don’t get it one bit when it’s about ego. I know people who aren’t professional runners who live by this same attitude….”i’ve gotten behind, my goal is out of reach, i’m not about to walk it in…i’ll just quit”.
These people are absolutely missing the journey of the goal. Why throw away months of training to let a little ego get in the way.
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” Bruce Lee
“Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.” Mahatma Gandhi
I have probably missed as many goals over the past 12 or so years as I have met. Having tough goals had made me a better runner and the journey to attain these goals has made me a better person. I missed my most recent race goal by 19 seconds. I never once thought about quitting and I certainly don’t blame my training. I worked my tail off and I know I didn’t leave 19 seconds on that course so while I can’t say I achieved my goal that day, I can say I had the best race I could have possibly had.
One of my favorite runners of all time is Meb Keflezighi and he set the greatest example in the most recent NY Marathon. Meb isn’t a runner like the rest of us are runners. He is an Olympian, a front runner, a contender at the largest of the large races, and among the fastest American runner to ever represent the US. He showed up to run the 2013 NY Marathon and at mile 19.3, he said he could not run a step further. I can imagine the overwhelming majority of professional runners and a good number of rookie runners would have stopped all together. Instead he chose to walk it in. What an amazing display of realizing that some days there’s more to racing than hitting a PR or getting your goal. Sometimes it’s just about the journey.
Take a moment to watch this short video with Meb. If you’re not already a fan, you will be. http://www.flotrack.org/coverage/250963-New-York-City-Marathon-2013/video/723689-Emotional-Meb-Keflezighi-after-NYC-Marathon-2013