It's Your Life. It's Your Rules.
Posted Thursday, 14 July, 2005
When I was a kid growing up, I always wanted to be an “athlete”, that is, a baseball player or a basketball player or a football player…you know, what they called a “real” athlete playing in a “real” game. However, I quickly found out that the coaches of the teams I was trying out for wanted kids who were about a foot taller and 50 lbs. heavier than me. Each time the selection process for the team came down to the final few picks, it was inevitable that I would once again be the last one cut.
So…where did that leave me? I could simply give up or I could try to find something that didn’t require someone to pick me. I started running and running and running. I figured no one can cut me from running. I wonder now how many of you who are running in races today actually chose this sport as your sport of choice at a young age or whether like me you started competing and participating by default? The fact of the matter is, it really doesn’t matter how or why any of us got involved, it’s just important that we all somehow did and we all still remain involved.
So what keeps us motivated to continue? For most of us, it’s certainly not fame or fortune. The biggest prize I ever won in this sport is a hibachi and the charcoal to go along with it. Whereas our overall health is the obvious beneficiary and perhaps our number one objective, some of us have run so much and for so long I’m beginning to wonder how “healthy” too much of this truly is in the long run!
I believe the common denominator for all of us is simply the overwhelming desire to just “feel good about ourselves.” After all, isn’t that the basis for everything else we do in life. We first need to feel good about ourselves before we can succeed at almost anything else we do. Self esteem is arguably one of the most important traits every one of us need to constantly work on. Working out and participating in races is certainly one way to build our self esteem and our self worth. If we don’t take care of ourselves, someday someone else is going to have the burden of taking care of us placed on them. If we can have a say in the matter, shouldn’t that be motivation enough to get out the door every now and then?
What is the trick to staying motivated day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year? It can be challenging to lace them up and get out the door every single day, day in and day out. The key is to set personal but realistic goals, with the operative and most important word being realistic. We need to set ourselves up for success, not failure.
For me, I have two long standing goals which I focus in on each year…one is to run the Boston Marathon in April and the other is to do my birthday run in August each year. Without these two annual goals, I wonder if I would be as disciplined or as vigilant as I am about doing even the limited training I currently do. The birthday run is without question my most challenging goal…to run the same number of miles as my age on my birthday (or within a few days of it). At 50 years of age now, I can tell you, I am starting to truly wish I never started this streak 38 years ago. As I get older, the challenge becomes exponentially more difficult…but, for me, that’s why I do it. My salvation in this goal, however, is the fact that I have come to the realization that since it is my “game”, then it is my rules, too, and I can change the rules whenever I want. There in lies the secret.
Personal goals can both hurt you and help you. They can make you feel good about yourself or they can devastate you. What it all boils down to is how realistic they are for you at a particular time or moment in your life. You and only you are the best judge of what is realistic for you. Your life continually changes as you grow older and so should your expectations and the rules that go with it. While you should allow your past accomplishment to give you strength and confidence, don’t live in the past, live in the present. I am often asked by children what I think my best accomplishment is…my answer…my best accomplishment is my NEXT one.
The following is a quote that I have lived by all my life:
“I have learned that we should always live our dreams and that people who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
It’s your life. It’s your rules.
I would now invite you to take a 3 question survey which will help race directors plan better races.