As someone whose birthday falls almost exactly at the halfway point of the year, it's easy for me to use this time of year as a natural checkpoint for those goals I set in January.
I'm a few weeks late (maybe more) this year, but I've finally gotten around to looking at my 2012 to-do list to see how I'm doing. I like to think of goals (I prefer not to use the word resolution) as something ongoing, something to work toward for the entire year. In fact, few of mine ever are the kind you can really cross off your list by completing a single task. Instead, I like to set year-long projects to help me keep motivated throughout the year.
Again this summer, like last one, I find myself in a somewhat uncomfortable place of not being ahead of schedule. Or, I should say, not really be on schedule at all — at least when it comes to my running and cycling goals. Sure, I'm pretty much hitting my non-running/cycling goals out of the park, like the ones that had to do with finances, important relationships and overall life balance. But the ones that have to do with running and cycling? Well, I'm giving myself a bad grade here.
It's not quite failing, but it's not good. I wish I could say I'm giving myself an A for effort. But I can't. I seemed, once again this summer, to have lost focus, lost the consistency, lost the routine of running and riding as part of my daily schedule.
When I took a look at the cold, hard numbers — the ones that dealt with my overall goal to 1,000 miles this year and ride my bike 2,000 miles — there's no denying that it's not going to happen. It seems as if I could run and ride every day until the end of the year and I may still never hit the mark. We all know I'm not going to get out there every day.
With that realization, I considered scrapping my goals — that one at least — altogether. Just give up.
It actually took me a few days, and finally a few miles on the road, to convince myself that was a bad idea. I mean, who says I have to give up entirely? I made the goals. Can't I just adjust them?
So that's exactly what I did, making it “official” by updating my goals on my dailymile profile. (I figure the online athletic community will keep me honest and motivated.) My goal for the year now reads: Be consistent. Be focused. Be realistic. Run 800 miles in 2012.
Even as I type this now, I realize how odd it is to live with a mind that grapples with the thought that running 800 miles could be a failure. That's still a heck of a lot of miles, even if that tiny voice inside me reminds me that it's 20 percent fewer than I set out to do in January.
Let me be clear, reaching the 800 mark is still going to be a stretch. It's certainly not a slam dunk. It's going to require hard work and making running a priority.
You'll notice that I added a few details to the goal — consistency, focus and, perhaps most importantly, being realistic — because I need to remind myself that it's not all about numbers or training logs or races or finishing times. Sometimes succeeding at running happens when you get up to run before work when every ounce of your being wants to hit the snooze alarm. Or, when you realize that you won't melt if you run in the rain. Or, when you realize that lofty goals sometimes won't be reached.
That, I think, might be the hardest of all. Numbers are easy. You either reach them or you don't. The other things — like motivation, dedication and focus — are a lot more intangible. You may never able be able to cross them off the list, but you will never get to the mileage goals if you don't take care of them along the way.
Teresa Robinson's NH Runner column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. She can be reached at NHRunner123@gmail.com. Twitter: @teresakrobinson.