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home > community > viewpoint > a new year, new dreams, new goals

A New Year, New Dreams, New Goals
Another year gone by. They sure go by fast! I made that statement last year at this time, and nothing that has occurred during the past 365 days has done anything to change that outlook. As it is the last year of the millenium, the fleeting aspect of time will be in particularly sharp focus during the next 365 days.

A New Year, New Dreams, New Goals

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By Don Allison
Posted Friday, 1 October, 1999

Another year gone by. They sure go by fast! I made that statement last year at this time, and nothing that has occurred during the past 365 days has done anything to change that outlook. As it is the last year of the millenium, the fleeting aspect of time will be in particularly sharp focus during the next 365 days.

Last year I wrote a column stating how my own running goals had somewhat eluded me in 1997, but how I hoped to make amends in 1998. A little later on, I'll review how things went for me in '98 and what I'll aim for next year. So, what's your plan for '99? Is this the year you are finally going to pursue that long sought-after running goal? Do you have it in you?

Is it realistic to think you can improve if you are more dedicated? That's the lure of running. You train harder, you run longer, stronger, and faster. It's nice to have plan, to dream of a goal that you hope to achieve. The problem is that reality, which is often ugly and messy, often unfolds quite differently from our clean, efficient plans, laid out so neatly on January 1. When dreaming or planning, we don't often factor in days when we are tired, ill, injured, sore, or just plain not into training. We don't foresee days on end when our legs are dead. Life intervenes in other ways as well: work and family often put running on the back burner, as they should. Some days when you are raring to go, bad weather or an unscheduled emergency puts a damper on your run.

Sometimes our goals are too ambitious, although on the surface they don't seem that way, especially when we hear about the incredible feats of others. But that's other people, not you or me. We may manage 20 or 30 or 40 miles per week of running without too much strain, but in attempt to run 50 or 60 we break down, or become too tired or too harried to accrue any real benefits from the extra mileage. As the years go by, I realize that there is just not much time to squeeze in a lot of mileage, even if it is available for running. Maybe I am just getting slower, and completing the miles takes longer. Years ago, I covered 70 miles per week without too much difficulty. Now, 50 is often a challenge. Even that seems like a lot! I also need more recovery days, recovery weeks, and recovery months now. Necessary as they may be, they create a lot of empty space in the training log.

There are many things we can do to improve our running: set concrete goals, run more mileage, run more speed, add strength training, add cross training, improve our diet, keep a detailed training log, get more rest, do more stretching, so on and so forth. They are all worthy pursuits, but tough to add to an already full running and life schedule. I'd like to see the individual who can manage to do all of these things inside of a workday lunch hour.

Should you make your running a high priority? Will it affect your or anyone else's life in a positive way? That's a subject for another column, but suffice to say that if you do have aspirations to reach as yet unachieved running goals, you will have to make a concerted effort to do so. Will it require a sacrifice of other priorities? That all depends upon how you look at it. One man's pain is another's pleasure.

Whether or not we are actually able to achieve them, setting goals to improve our running is still a worthwhile pursuit. It defines our effort, which usually results in improved performance. Aimlessly going from day to day can result in stagnation, even if you are only in the sport for participation. Whatever your goals, you as an individual bring integrity and validity to them. It does not matter if that goal is to break the world record in the marathon or complete a three-mile run around your neighborhood. It's your achievement and the feeling of accomplishment and the journey to get there are what it's all about.

A new year is simply a demarcation on the calendar, but I have always found it a good time to assess and reflect upon my own running. My high motivation level may not make it all the way through the year, but I know this is the time I have blocked out to achieve specific goals. In 1997 my goal was to complete a 100-mile trail run and to break three hours in the marathon, something I had not achieved since October of 1994. It took two attempts, but I did mange the former goal, sort of (the 100 was on the roads), while the latter eluded me, mainly because I never got around to running a marathon.

This past year, everything athletic was focused on August 30, when I made an attempt at my first IronMan triathlon. It seemed like an eminently achievable, albeit challenging goal. At just before 8:00 p.m. on that day in Penticton, British Columbia, I reached my goal, although with just about enough energy to get across the finish line! Although there were hundreds who had already crossed the finish line in the race, I derived a great deal of enjoyment from training for the event and a terrific feeling of accomplishment from completing the race.

1999? Well, it's back to the world of ultrarunning for me, with a goal of finishing that trail 100 that eluded me in 1997. In addition, November 21 will mark the 20th anniversary of my first marathon. I'll make it a goal to run one on or near that date, maybe that sub three-hour that has proved so elusive. You have to dream! I wish all of you the best in realizing your own running dreams and goals during 1999. There is no time like the present-before you know it, it will be gone!



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