When we don’t meet our goals

As we near end of January, I feel like “resolution season” is winding down. It’s been 4+ weeks of talk about setting goals and making big changes for 2018. I don’t usually make resolutions in the new year, mostly because I feel like I make them year round. However goal setting has been in the foreground lately, from the goal cards at Tribe Fitness to last weekend’s theme at the camp where I work, setting SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely) goals.

So when I went on my run this afternoon, I thought I’d set some goals, or one goal which had a few parts to it…to you know, make it SMART.

I set a goal that:

Today I would run 5km without stopping at a pace faster than 6:00min/km AND to run up the Spring Road hill.

Pretty darn specific, measurable and timely. Based on the fact that I’ve ran 5km races at paces closer to 5min per km, I figured both the speed and the distance were attainable.

Here is how it went down. I started strong, maybe stronger than I could have, having not been running consistently over the winter months. Even though I felt comfortable, I decided to slow down, knowing I’d need energy for that hill. I kept a pretty consistent pace around 5:45min/km which, although about 30 seconds slower than my Fall average, felt doable. When I got to about 4km, as it often goes, it started to feel harder. What is it about running that no matter the distance, the last km is always so darn difficult? Of course, I was at the base of the dreaded hill. I wanted to run this hill as it is in the last half km of an 8km race I’m running in early April, I needed a baseline for my training. And boy did it ever kick my ass. I knew I had slowed down just before the hill in that final km and I needed to make up speed, so I tried to speed up, while going up a hill. This backfired. I hesitated, I doubted myself, and I slowed down to a walk for a couple hundred meters. This meant I didn’t fully run the 5km, I didn’t run up the whole hill and I didn’t keep my desired pace.

I could feel lousy about myself, however I don’t…instead it got me thinking. How many times have I hesitated when I was so close to accomplishing something? When the end goal is so obvious as a physical finish line, or in this case timed, it’s easy to see just how close I was. However, more often than not, life isn’t so perfectly laid out, we can spend years working on a goal and we have our moments of hesitation and of doubt, and maybe we give up, not knowing that if we just kept going a little longer we’d get there. So what keeps YOU going? What helps you when you hesitate, when you doubt, when you feel like giving up. Find that, hold on to it, look towards it when you feel like throwing it all away.

Let’s not dwell on what didn’t work, notice it, and find out what works and how to keep it working. In my case and running, I know for a fact that if I had someone else running this with me, I would have made it. Even if someone was with me just for that final KM. To push me, to cheer me on. It really makes a huge difference in a run and I think it makes a difference in life too. Find your tribe, find those who cheer you on, who will be there to help pick you up and hash things out with you when you don’t meet that goal, and support you to meet it another time or to help you meet your new, adjusted goal. I don’t think we’re defined by our every success, instead, it’s our ability to keeping going and to keep trying and to know that it’s ok to give up, and it’s ok to start again and it’s ok to change our mind and set new goals. It’s all ok. I was darn close today, and it’s ok. I’m not giving up and I hope you don’t either.