I typically do a New Year’s pledge that focuses on accomplishing something of note during the coming 12 months. I do this because setting a goal, pushes you toward something. This year, I had several goals. I was using distance running to lose 40 pounds. And since that didn’t seem like enough, I set some actual running goals as well. The first was to break 19 minutes, 30 seconds in a 5K by May. The second was to complete a half marathon in under one hour and 45 minutes by the end of the year.
There were legitimate reasons for both goals. The half marathon was because it would be a new personal record, which in running lingo is known as a PR, which in my real life is what we shorten my job of public relations too. The 5K time was to get me back to a speed I had in my early 30s when I was a “serious runner.” I was likely well over a sub 20 minutes 5K runner when I started this endeavor, so I figured it was a good goal.
Back to New Year’s Day. I laced up sneakers and headed out to the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail to see how far I could go. I had no real distance in my head, but wanted to do at least five miles. Using the numbering system stenciled every tenth of a mile on the asphalt as a guide, I didn’t time myself, but just mentally kept pushing to go farther. I ended up running eight miles that day. Nowhere near my best ever, but more than I had done in likely a year as added age and added weight typically left me winded at five miles.
So, what next? Well, I did it again the next day (with the help of two Aleve for the soreness). I ran every day that week. For the first time in a very long time, I realized how much I enjoyed running again. That first week, I did at least five miles each day – even venturing out in the cold of the area’s first ice storm of the region. I then thought: time for a challenge since this seems to be working. I decided to add a mile to my long run each week just to see what could happen.
And a funny thing did happen, I started to increase my daily runs as well because the distances didn’t seem to affect me that much. A five-mile Wednesday increased to six then seven then eight. My long weekend runs got longer and longer as I discovered parts of Greenville I had long forgotten. Did you know there is a swamp roughly six miles from Main Street? There is! I found it one day at my turnaround spot on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in early February. I was shocked and sort of proud of myself. That run was also the run that made me decide to alter my plans.
In the back of my head, the half marathon I was going to run was the Spinx in October. Instead, I decided to do the Greenville Health System Half, which was happening in late February. I ran it, and came in a shade under 1:42. Almost three minutes ahead of my goal. Encouraged, I started to do tempo runs during my long runs to prepare for a 5K in May. Needless, to say I broke my goal by nine seconds. I also lost 40 plus pounds along the way. I also had completed my New Year’s goals by mid-year. It left me wondering what to do next. Pat myself on the back for accomplishing my goals or set some new ones? I decided to go for some new ones, but realized I had learned some things that apply to business.
- Goals matter: If you are not setting up goals for your business to accomplish new things, you are not going to get better. You need to push yourself. No one else will.
- Be accountable: For running, it was simple as putting down my goals in a notebook and then checking it every day to remember that I had something to accomplish. This is sort of like having a business to-do list, but one that makes sure you are following your goals. Basically, measure every day if you are moving toward your goals.
- The right outlook is key: I started doing well in my distance runs because I “knew” I could do them. Don’t ask me how, but in my head, I know I can run long distances. Really fast? That is a challenge. I recently began doing track workouts, and noticed that the people I ran past at 400 yards were beating me easily in 200-yard runs. I asked one of them how he did it, he just shrugged and said, “I just know I can run them fast.” That was an eye opener. I started looking at my business decisions. When my company failed, was it because I had the wrong outlook? Many times, it was. I’ve learned to change my mindset.
Anyway, there is more, but I have to go run now.