Goals are important. And not just vague conceptual thoughts about targets. Many studies have shown that the liklihood of achieving anything is significantly improved with a specific, written goal.
I remember discovering this fact early in my undergraduate studies. I was fascinated by how a clearly-stated, written goal tended to focus the mind, clarify choices and lead to achieving important things. Shoot, I even got engaged after I set a specific goal to improve my social life during the fall of 1974 (but that's a different story and I'd need to have Gretchen tell her side as well).
So, it's probably no surprise I have a long-term goal in running. When I started the second-era of my running career in 2004, I realized I needed a long-term goal to add direction far beyond the short-term and annual list of races to be run. Sometime in 2005, it geled for me. I remember telling Darrell about this goal during our first December marathon meet up in 2006 but I've never posted it here. And in the lull between races for me, this seemed like a good time.
My long-term running goal is to run a race of at least a half-marathon distance on the weekend when each of my twin grandsons get married.
Why such a goal? Well, it gives some life and visual punch to my desire to keep moving and active deep into my life. Let's do the math (hey, I'm a Purdue engineer and I always do the math) and see what this means.
Next week, Drew and Nathan turn 5. Last fall, I turned 55. If they get married in their early-to-mid 20s, I'll be in my early 70s on their wedding days. And, yeah, I'd like to still be running then. I see a good number of men in their 70s at races. Can I be one of them?
The implication of this goal on my day-to-day running is clear. It causes me to pay attention to staying injury-free. It causes me to not get too uptight about inevitable ups and downs of races or training. If illness strikes, it gives focus to any recorery efforts. I didn't put a time goal on my race; but I did say "run". I need a lot of consistency to get to this goal. This adds motivation to keep moving in our extreme midwest weather.
Being a very visual goal, it also adds a strong emotional pull. I can sure make a picture of getting a Saturday morning race in, showering, and heading to a wedding in the afternoon. And the visual, emotional tug is one measure of a useful goal.
Will it happen?? I have no idea. Will Drew and/or Nathan cooperate? Well, this is my goal, not theirs, so there is no pressure on them. I must say, though, I hope their musical taste improves by the time they plan the reception.
I think about this goal a bit during almost every run I make. And it came home in a fascinating way yesterday. We attended the wedding of the daughter of long-time friends yesterday. As family friends, they invited our son, daughter-in-law and their three munchkins as well. When we got to the ceremony, it worked out that the twins sat with Gretchen and me. Well, you can imagine the task of keeping two inquisitive 5 year-olds quiet during the solemnity of a wedding ceremony but it worked. At one point, Drew whispered to Gretchen "Grandma, someday I'm going to get married and then you can be my daughter." Huh?? Well, it made sense to him.
Yet, it was kind of mind-boggling to sit with these two little boys, fast-forwarding 15-20 years and imagine them marrying, much as I hit rewind remembering this bride's birth 22 years ago and seeing her now. That time will go quickly. And, if I can keep in shape, I'll be around to enjoy it.
And will I make it to their little sister's wedding too??
Persevere. In the short and long term.