How Running Helps Set Better Goals

I love running. It keeps me in shape, gives me more energy than 30 minutes of running should reasonably provide, and yes, it keeps me honest.

I spend a lot of time in anticipation of the future. What I’d like to happen next, what I want after that, and so on. Some thoughts are so far ahead it’s nearly impossible to tell when they might happen, if ever. If you know me, you know I like to push myself and I like to dream big. That’s where the awesome comes into life- in dreaming about the future.

Many of you already have awesome lives. At least I think you do. So that’s good for something, right? 😉 It’s always easier to think others have the awesome life, isn’t it?

Throughout my day I have many thoughts about what I want to do with my time. I get so far ahead of myself it’s almost ridiculous.

My mother used to say to me, ‘You’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached to your body!’ I think she was right.

So here’s where running comes into play.

I often run at a park with a train track bordering the north side. The trail in this park is a crushed gravel path that, if run properly, provides a pretty sweet and scenic 5K. But the frequent trains are why I run there. The truth is, I like a challenge.

Sometimes I race the train. Not like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, where he’s on his motorcycle, racing the F-16. Not quite. The trains come through around 15-35 mph (I think they have a maximum allowable speed of 45 MPH, but that doesn’t matter. I won’t be running that fast. Ever.) Occasionally though, I’ll be running along when a train comes up alongside the trail and if I’m feeling spry enough, I’ll take off in a mad dash to beat the train to some off-in-the-distance point along the trail. I tell myself I can get there before the last car crosses that point. Sometimes I win, but often I fail hugely.

The point isn’t whether I beat the train to my own finish line or not. That’s too easy; I could just move the finish line closer if I feel I’m going to get beat.

Nope, the point is to actually set a goal, no matter how short-term and how much intensity and focus it will require to achieve that goal.

That’s where running teaches me to be honest and have integrity with myself. Because even though I could set a goal and move the finish line along the way if I think it will help me feel better, it’s better if I set a goal and leave it there. And then go for it.

We all feel good about achieving our goals.

But this is deeper than the surface accomplishment of goal-achieving. This is about integrity and honesty at their deepest levels.

This is also about setting your word, placing your body into that word, and staying on course. Too many times I’ve seen markers moved and boundaries shifted to adjust to the realities of the situation when really the work put into reaching the goal should have been amplified instead.

I hope to encourage you to set big goals for yourself and recognize when your effort needs to change in order to reach your destination.

Are there times where you’ve felt like moving the finish line so you could appear to have reached your goal? Do tell, and thanks for reading.