Let’s start this very short post by sharing that I’m not a very goal driven person lately. But that doesn’t mean I gave up goals entirely. I still use them and I find them quite useful. As a matter of fact, during the last two years, I think I just started to use them, instead of being used by them.
Personal development can be tricky, you know. It’s a very thin line between striving to attain balance and obsessing over it. Too much goal setting and goal enforcing and other goal bla-bla-bla’s won’t make you happier. Too much or too little from anything won’t make you happier, for what matters.
But let’s get back to the point of this post, which is about one of the goals I set up for this autumn. It’s a marathon goal: namely to run one in under 4 hours. It will be my third marathon ever. The first one was 5h:20m, in 2012, the second one was 4h:33m, in 2013, and now I’m aiming at under 4 hours. It will happen this Sunday, at Bucharest International Marathon.
What will happen if I reach this goal? I’ll feel good about myself.
What will happen if I don’t reach this goal? I will still feel good about myself.
Huh? Wait, I just think I saw you nodding: is this guy for real? Why is he setting up goals if he’ll feel the same whether he reaches them or not?
Because goals are useful as long as they are pushing you forward, as long as they are helping you create a better version of yourself. Feeling bad about yourself won’t create a better version of yourself. At least, not for me. I’m way over this. Self-induced frustration is no longer working for me. That’s it, I ran out of self-induced frustration.
Instead, I work on creating habits. And one of the habits I created during the last two years was to run constantly. At least 3 times a week, at least 30k per week (when I ran in official competitions, even more, around 50k /week). And that habit alone created a huge change in my life. Let me tell you a (very, very short) story about these changes.
Last weekend we decided to go, me and my girlfriend, to a garage sale. She had some clothes to donate, I was happy to go with her (it turned out that I like garage sales). The whole thing was organized by a former family friend, a woman I didn’t see for more than 3 years, almost since I divorced.
As I entered in the small backyard of the bistro where the garage sale was taking place, I started to look for her. After a few minutes I saw her, in a discussion with one of the sellers. We approached, I smiled and asked her how is everything going. The look on her face was absolutely priceless. I’m still giggling as I remember it.
The look on her face was like: “what do you want from me, stranger?”, slowly going into: “you’re looking like somebody familiar”, and then opening up into: “what the fuck happened to you? you can’t be real”. She was speechless for at least 5 seconds and then the first sentence was: “What did you do, you gave up eating or something?”
That’s the difference between me 3-4 years ago, and me today. It’s better to describe it like this, rather than giving you some numbers, like “I lost 15-18 kilos”. That’s dumb. And irrelevant.
So, back to my marathon goal. I think I’m well trained and I already got good times in the last long runs. I did one 30k in 2h:52m (a 5m:37s / km speed) and after that a 25k in 2h:15m (a 5m:24s / km speed). I had a bit of an injury a few weeks ago, but didn’t force, took a week pause and then restarted training. This week I’m following the program closely. I ran my last training semi-marathon last Sunday at 5m:32s without forcing a bit (and the week before that I ran my first mountain half marathon). According to this Race Predictor, I can finish a marathon in under 4 hours.
I also started the carbo loading “procedure”, which basically mean I’m eating more carbohydrates than usual. And I also sleep a bit more, 30 minutes per night at least. That should be enough.
Anyway, my point here is that this specific, marathon goal will still help me live a better life whether I’ll reach it or not.
But now, in all honesty, I have to share that with you too: if I’ll run my marathon in under 4 hours, I will be very happy. Because that means I’m ready to start training for my first Iron Man, next year.
But that’s anther story.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.