Hopes or Goals

The other day while listening to some talking head “analyze” the president’s inauguration speech, I heard a sentence that rang true, at least until I started thinking about it. The analysis seemed to be more of a word count than any actual discussion of the topical content. And apparently the president used the word “hope” X number of times as compared to Y number of times in 2009. I guess there was some significance to that.

Whatever. 100_6418

During the discussion, the gentleman said something along the lines of “Hope is not merely wishful thinking. It comes with all kinds of requirements.” I liked the way that sounded at the time and it made me start to think about what it really meant.

People hope for all kinds of things. Some hope they’ll get that dream job, or that their band will become famous, or that the man/woman of their dreams will reciprocate that feeling. But none of that shit will ever happen if the hoper just sits around waiting. Waiting is a surefire way to accomplish nothing. Trust me. I’ve tried waiting and hoping for all sorts of things. It doesn’t work…EVER.

If you want that dream job, you’ll have to take it off of your “Hope” list and add it to your “Goals” list. Then lay out some kind of plan to achieve that goal.

Hope is just wishful thinking until you turn that hope into an actual goal. Then you can begin to build a plan to achieve that goal. Then it is not wishful thinking anymore. It’s a target and all you have to do is work your ass off until you hit it.

As I watch the resolution rush of new members at my gym slowly start to wane, it makes me wonder how many of those people are “hoping” to get healthier/thinner/faster/stronger, and how many of them have instead decided that they ARE GOING to get healthier/thinner/faster/stronger and have laid out a plan of attack on how to achieve that goal.

I’m guessing that the people “hoping” for change are the ones that think that if they hit the treadmill a few times a week and do some crunches, then they will eventually be able to continue eating a horrible diet while living an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. And the ones that have a goal have already rid their homes of negative diet temptations and found an exercise activity that they actually enjoy. And more importantly, realized that long term success means long term adjustment. There is no end. There isn’t a point where you get to go back to doing everything that you were before without also getting the same unwanted results that motivated all of those healthier New Year’s resolution in the first place.

100_6409While chatting with some friends recently (about nothing at all related to running or exercising), it occurred to me that because I was maybe too expressive about the dark origins of my healthier changes, that some people may view those changes as simply part of a “recovery” plan; a plan with an eventual end point when the person from a year ago will reappear ready to get back to where he was before being interrupted.

It would be understandable. During the last several months, I probably explained in too much detail that avoiding self destructive behavior during a personal hardship was my initial motivation to make adjustments to the way I live.

But there is no light at the end of this tunnel. There isn’t even a tunnel at all. Choosing to live a healthier, more active life is not a path out of a dark place back to the well lighted place that I thought I was before. If I had to call it anything, it was a much appreciated bridge over a dark place. And it has already helped deliver me to a new and brighter place within myself; a place that I don’t want to let go of.

And the endorphins rush of my very first run was all I needed to know that it was going to be a welcomed new part of my life going forward.

In short: I’m not going back to who I was. I don’t want to. I don’t know how I may change as I continue to evolve as a person, but this is who I am. And that guy from a year ago is gone forever. I don’t miss him. I don’t even like what I see when I look back at that person.

These statements are not intended as some snarky rectification toward anyone in particular, as I have received nothing but support in my decisions. These statements are instead a clear and public declaration to myself that positive changes only get to reveal their full benefits if they are allowed to continue indefinitely and I intend to keep moving forward, not backwards. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Today, I was supposed to run the second scheduled step-up race towards my goal of running the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. It was to be my first 15K and my scheduled “long run” for this week on my training schedule. But instead, it snowed yesterday (like it almost never does) and the event organizers were forced to cancel the race.

Can you believe they cancelled this run?  pshh.

Can you believe they cancelled this run? pshh.

But I still needed to run those miles to fulfill my training requirements. I’ve got a plan damn it.

I put some chili in the slow cooker and decided to go see what the conditions were like. If they were too sketchy, I’d just bite the bullet and hit the treadmill. I’m so glad that I went.

I got to the trail just a little after the cancelled race was scheduled to start, and everything was nice and white: the trees, the road, the fields, the few other cars there. As I got out of the car, I saw another person there clearly dressed to run and asked her what the conditions looked like. She said they were good and I began to get ready. I love running outside, even when its 28 degrees.

As I was getting ready, another gentleman, the woman I spoke to earlier, and another runner approached and asked if I would be interested in running with them. They were also signed up to run the cancelled race and, like me, decided to run it anyway. I said “sure.” It was the first time that I’ve ever run with anyone.

100_6420It was a really beautiful day for a run. And except for leaving my gloves at home, I was so ready to get out there. They were all experienced and faster runners but because of the snow they kept a modest pace (for them) which happened to be just a bit faster than my normal pace. But I felt good and was still able to maintain conversation so I just forgot about the garmin and ran along.

The one thing that I like about snow (yes, there is only one thing) is that it makes everything seem so much quieter. The whole world is just silent.

After five miles, I turned around to head back. They were going to the end to get in a 16 mile run. But as I said, I had a 15K on my training schedule and I try to stick to that plan pretty strictly. I felt good, but I knew I was running a little faster than normal and to then add miles that I know I’m not quite ready for seemed like a poor decision. Stick to the plan Greg.

I ended up finishing my unofficial first 15K in 1:27:27 with an average pace of 9:23 min/mile. I felt really good afterwards. And with only a bagel for breakfast, I was really glad that the organizers did not cancel the already paid for post-race lunch. Warm soup and a cold beer seemed a perfect chaser to my snow run. And It was fun chatting with some of the other runners who had all still gone out somewhere today and put in some miles before heading over for the “free” food. I met some good people today, had some laughs, and a really great run. I might be getting the hang of this.

The organizers can cancel a race, but it’s ultimately up to me whether or not the run is cancelled. Today it wasn’t.


Oh, and I was listening to my favorite album of all time while running today. The Conan the Barbarian soundtrack on a snowy day outside was perfect. Tell me I’m wrong.

11 responses to “Hopes or Goals

  1. Alright, so maybe I just like feel good stories and all that, but I really look forward to these blogs because they are really uplifting. I got done reading this and was pissed off that I couldn’t have been out there running with you. You have a great narrative style and it seems only to be improving. I hope you are working on something else other than the blog that we can all look forward to some day. I still believe your side job should be hosting a radio show of some sort, haha.

    Concur completely on running in the cold. Marlith and I have run around here in the teens. The funniest thing when we do those (separately, because the kids have to stay in the house) is when she comes back her hair is always frozen solid from the perspiration. No kidding, big junks of ice in her long black hair. She’s a “spiritual” runner. Doesn’t track pace, time, distance…just goes out there and does it.

    There is nobody over our shoulders coming to save us…it’s just us. You may be right, our face to face conversations may not be a divisive as I sometimes fear!

    • Thanks as always my friend. It is not often that I have been referred to as “uplifting,” but I like that. Yesterday might have been my overall favorite run so far. I’m still no fan of snow, but I had a blast yesterday.

  2. I came across your blog after it was shared by a mutual friend, Spencer, this morning. I have been sitting here, reading, more than a few of your posts in the health/fitness category. I have found them to be about much more than health and fitness and I have found them to be truly inspiring, touching, and heartfelt. I, too, am a runner. Still what I consider a fairly new runner, but a runner, nonetheless. I, too, will be running the Shamrock Half in March. Not as my first Half Marathon, but as my 4th, with quite a few 5k’s, 10k’s, 14k’s and other training distances, in between. I normally run the Rock n Roll Half, but decided to switch it up a bit this year and do the Shamrock. Again, not my first Half Marathon, but another in my quest to reach that unattainable (at least for me!) 2 hour finish time! My best time to date is 2:09 and that was in last years Rock n Roll. The conditions sucked…close to 90 degree temps, close to 100% humidity…it sucked! I cried as I crossed the finish line..not with happiness, as it should have been, for having a new PR, but in disappointment for not meeting the goal I had busted my ass training for. My 13 yr old daughter put it in perspective for me later that day. After I showed her my official time and stats from the website (which were not bad at all!) she said, “Mom, you did great. Quit being so stupid about it.” Pretty simple words, but they sure made me think! So…I quit being so stupid about it and decided to pat myself on the back for a new PR and for a job well done…and I decided to move on. The next day, I signed up for the Shamrock….and so here we are! My training has been sporadic, at best. My longest distance being 6 miles, as I have recovered from several overuse injuries, and re-injuries, in my training for and running of the Rock n Roll. ( I love that you stress the importance of proper stretching! I learned the hard way!!) And, I have decided, it is what it is. I am going to get out there and run. Do I want to hit that goal time…my perfect 2 hours….yes, definitely! Am I going to beat myself up about it this time, if I don’t finish in that time….NO, I am not! I am, for the first time, going to take the time out to enjoy this race….to appreciate that I CAN run a Half Marathon, that I AM running a Half Marathon, and that I AM going to cross that finish line. Am I going to look at my time throughout the race? Of course. Am I going to push myself? Of course. Am I going to do everything I can to finish in that 2 hours? Of course. The difference, this time, however, is that I am going to be proud for what I do accomplish and not beat myself up for what I don’t. That will be something totally new for me….in running and in life.

    Thanks, Greg, for putting all of this out there. You have a wonderful writing talent and I look forward to reading more of your posts. Good luck in your first Half Marathon. I would love to see you out there! It has been many years since I have seen you…since the Capt Georges days and it would be great to see you again. Sorry for my long winded comment…you brought out a whole slew of memories and emotions for me this early morning!

    • It sounds like you’ve got a pretty smart daughter. I’d be stoked with a 2:09 finish. I make a conscious effort not to let my race goals get in the way of the most basic reasons that I love running. Like everything else I do, I falter on that from time to time. But that just lets me rediscover those joys on the days when I eventually ignore my watch, my pacing, or the snow and just go out and enjoy a solid run in the sun.

      I’ve got a time-goal for the Shamrock, but I haven’t shared it because it’s still very fluid as I measure my training successes/failures. And none of my finish line goals are as important to me right now as just getting to the starting line healthy. It doesn’t matter what my finish line goal is if I don’t make it to the starting line. And as you mentioned, I don’t want to do it at all if I can’t have fun. I will enjoy myself.

      Thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate it. As we get closer to the race and after I figure out what corral I’ve been placed in, we can figure out a way to meet at the race. And I will definitely be near the beer after the race. Haha. Good luck with your training. See you in March.

  3. Thanks for putting some perspective on this issue. I’m trying to get my own health issues in order these days. The hardest part is coming to grips with the fact that the changes have to be permanent; “there isn’t a tunnel at all.”

    • FOFE! It’s good to hear from you. I appreciate you reading my blog and wish you the best in your healthier pursuits. I still feel like I’m just now getting the hang of it. And every time I get that feeling, I learn something new that makes me realize how much more I have to learn. But I love feeling better and healthier. I only regret that I ever stopped exercising regularly and that it took so much to motivate me to do it again. A slow work in progress indeed.

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  6. “long term success means long term adjustment” is a really insightful observation. I think there are times in my life where I didn’t follow through with a plan knowing that I would never be able to relax on it and it just seemed way too difficult to maintain. Thats how people

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