Sunday, January 8, 2012

The 2012 Goal Post

Today is January 8.  I guess it's time I address the mandatory blog post on "my goals for 2012".


I've read a lot of runner's goals this week.  A lot.  Really ambitious, detailed, calculated stuff.  I totally enjoy reading these goals, but I don't quite know where it all comes from.  This may sound weird, but I don't sit in my head very often thinking about my "future goals" -- and especially not with any kind of precision.  I kind of picture y'all sitting in an office chair with a notepad and silence on December 31st, reflecting and analyzing the past year, and creating The Perfect List for the coming year.

I can't compete with that.  This is NOT the running blog for those looking for a majorly inspirational character who has Deep Thoughts about Running and then tackles those goals.

Driving aimlessly.  Metaphor.


First: I Don't Do Goals.

Really.  And this has totally worked for me.

Of course, you know, I can show up at the starting line of a race and have an idea of the time I want to finish in.  And there is this fuzzy expectation, either created by me or by others who know I am already scratching the surface with a 3:05, that I will aim for a sub-3:00 hour marathon one day.  But generally, I don't create annual or monthly goals.

And this goal-less philosophy certainly doesn't apply just to running.  It applies to all that other good stuff in life. 

Analysis #1: I am afraid of failure, and thus do not like to create a goal that could possibly not be reached.  

Analysis #2 (and the one I will insist is true): my favorite version of life is a calm one.  I'm not the most zen person you will ever meet, but in general, I prefer to live life on a day-by-day take-what-comes-your-way basis.  I don't look one year in the future.  I don't look five years in the future.  If you ask me where I see myself in ten years, I will punch you in the face.

You may judge this to be a pretty weak-sauce way to live life if you are a hyper-driven person.  And I do have drive, but, it is an instant-gratification kind of drive.  I will work my ass off during a run that I am in the middle of, but I won't look ahead to create some killer training plan.  I will bust out a term paper for school or a brief for work because I want the instant pat on the back, but I won't create a plan for how I can work my way up to CEO of my own company.

So how is it that this goal-less life has worked for me?  It has worked because I'm totally satisfied with the various aspects of my life.  I don't mean to say that life has been handed to me on a platter -- I mean that I am able to accomplish well enough things without being anal about the journey to reach those accomplishments.  For example:

Education: I floated through college without a plan--which resulted in a stupid double major of sociology and political science--but ended up receiving a Juris Doctorate degree 7 years later.

Running: I ran a marathon in 2006 without the slightest clue or training besides my daily sanity runs, and found myself at the finish line at 3:33.  I started 2011 without a plan, began this aimless running blog in February, and ran a 3:05 marathon and a 1:26 half-marathon based on the excitement of keeping written tabs on my races.

Love: I flirted with the guy in my law school classes without a plan, fell madly for him within weeks, moved in within months, and have embraced every single goal-less day with him since.

It works.  Goals can create stress and confine you.  Living for each day creates freedom, happiness, and for me usually finds success.

Second: Running is Just Running.

It really is.  I love it--it is my religion and my therapist--but it isn't my job.  It is just my joy.  Since it's not life or death, I don't have much calculating to do for this thing.  And I think I need running to be flexible to love it.  

So I won't plan the heck out of it.  I will embrace each run as it's own, whether it ends up being a slow aimless run or a short burst of intervals.

There you have it.  I don't have a single goal for 2012.  I only hope to enjoy most days, if not every day, and to more or less do what I want as I meet each day.  Whether that is run hard, run easy, work hard, sleep hard, travel hard, or love hard, it is not to be planned for me. 

We shall see what 2012 has in store for me.  In the words of my dear pal Kirsten Dunst: Bring It On.  (And, I never should have dumped Jake Gyllenhaal.)


  1. And this, my friend, is why you are probably my favorite running blog. EVER.

    I love this. All of it.

    Enjoy your goal-less year, RR!!!!

  2. Love your views and non goal ways.

  3. I think all the Buddhist hipsters in the east bay would love this post ;-).

    That said, I'm just teasing and I love it the post. Life is so much more enjoyable when you're not assigning arbitrary expectations on yourself. Thanks for the reality check.

  4. This leads me to believe that you actually WOULD run with me and not be bugged that we were running slowly because I am such totally fucking awesome company. :)

    This is a fab philosophy. I'm not even a Buddhist hipster and I love this post.

  5. i so agree with this! i run the same way. i'm even a big weirdo with no bucket list...i'm seriously that satisfied with my life that i can kick the bucket right now and except for finishing raising my children, i'm good with what i have (or haven't) accomplished. Definitely the less stressful way to go! ;-)

  6. I was going to be seriously pissed off if you made goals. Thank you for not disappointing me! Phew. Carry on now with your crazy running stories...I LOVE em!
    ps--no foot pain today!


  8. Damn, I love this post.

    I have a serious fear of failure and a propensity towards beating myself up even when I don't have a concrete goal, so Lord knows what I would be like if I had a training plan to be compulsive about. It would completely suck the enjoyment out of running...I'm scared to death about a half I have at the end of January because my injuries haven't sorted themselves out, and I think I'm going to perform badly then have to post a crappy time on my blog for everyone to see. If I was using a training plan then that anxiety would be even worse.

    And I'm all about instant gratification too. I'd never revise for exams and then cram in all of the information two days in advance - I'd rather do everything at once and really focus on my goal in the moment rather than prepare months and months ahead.

    Good for you for being goal-less. I think I'll join you in that :D


  9. Yay for no goals! Some years I will actually spend 5 minutes thinking about some sort of stupid resolution on New Years, but this year I put zero thought into it. I've come to realize that the best resolutions you set are the ones you come to on your own, without the pressure of some stupid tradition set by the calendar year. At least that's my opinion!

  10. I NEEDED to read this. You are so right, running is JUST running. Reading all of the goal posts stress me out but yours made me relax ha. Just from reading your blog I get a sense that you are super chill and that is one reason I already love ya! I didn't know how you met the Gentlemen..that was fun to read!

  11. Yes, this, 100%. My motto over the past four months has been: "it's just running." I don't make my living at this hobby. Once the intense goals and plans start coming into play, the joy/escapism of running gets sucked out of it for me. For this reason, I think being an elite runner would be awful, and am thank to just be another face in the pack chasing nothing but my own breath.

  12. I don't really have any goals for this new year.

    And by that I don't have any at all.

    Other than just do stuff to the best of my ability!

  13. lol you crack me up! How you go through life is just fine. I tend to be a big planner, I don't think I could do your approach to things, haha But just hearing about your life, everything seems to have gone just fine.

    You are refreshing to read about Roserunner!

  14. love this post. :)

    You've got the right perspective. Let's just put one foot in front of the other, let our conscience be our guide and "love hard!". Everything else is a cherry on the sundae! :)

  15. I also don't do goals or resolutions! I have tried to analyze it and I haven't figured out why other than I don't see a difference between January 1st of August 12th. And I'm too lazy to think about what a good goal would be.

  16. Great no goals! I'm not big into "new year" goals, but do keep general goals that I want to reach. Maybe, that is why I get stressed!

    Sorry for not responding sooner, been tied up. Trying to get back into running after a few weeks off of CIM.

  17. If it's working for you (which it clearly is), keep on. Love this post. I, on the other hand, will veg into 2013 without clear goals. i'm lazy like that. ;-)

  18. haha I LOVEEEE your version of life!! CALM! I am sooooo type A with my darn goals it almost drives me nuts...but it has been engrained in me after 18-years of competitive swimming (we weren't allowed to get in the pool until we recited our "goal for the day")...I have moved away from drawing out my goals into finite details and really only have 3-big goals this year, I don't really care how I get to them, I will scrap my way to the finish line if I have to :)
    I hope you've been having a great week!!

  19. amen my friend! I love this. SO TRUE.

    I do have one running goal this year - break 4 hours in the marathon, which I should with a little sweat. but other than that, and past that, I don't really care. At all. Not that I'm not motivated by certain things but don't have any other goals and I'm fine with that. Three cheers for going with the flow.

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  21. Hello RR,
    Heck yes! I think you are scratching the surface with some really kick a*s times. Why set goals for 2012? You will be running for the rest of your life. The last thing you would want is for running to feel like a chore. Your natural talent is a wonderful thing. I totally expect you to break 3:00hrs eventually. Dare I say the Olympic Trials in 2016? No pressure.


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