You know how in the opening and ending credits of every Seinfeld episode they show bits of his stand-up? There’s this one where he talks about people who workout and the hilarious (and maybe pointless?) cycle they seem to be in. I’m paraphrasing, but basically he says that all the people in the gym are not really working out “for” anything–other than being able to do the next workout. He says it in a way that’s pretty easy to see the humor in. You work really hard and push yourself so that you can be prepared for the next day when you go to the gym and work hard and push yourself.
Alright, I get that especially to my super fit blogosphere and I, this joke falls a little flat. Of course there are tons of reasons to work out and to do it with solid effort:
- To improve and maintain health
- Feel and look better on the outside
- Relieve depression and feel better on the inside
- Set a good example of self-care to kids and loved ones
- It’s fun!
The list could go on but that’s not my point. I thought about this line of comedy because at this moment, I don’t really have any specific goal that I am looking forward to. I’ve got an all women’s 10k that I love that I’m signed up for in June, but I haven’t really set a time goal for it. I am in the process of trying to get faster and I hope to run it well, but it’s not something that’s on my mind when I’m running or strength training.
I’ve started to think lately that I’m a bit of an oddball. Most people I know, especially bloggers, like to set some sort of goal–something they are aiming for. I can see how it gives their training a sense of purpose. It makes perfect sense to me. The truth is, I’ve had a hard time thinking of anything as much of a goal since the marathon. And since I have no desire to run another marathon anytime soon and improve my time, I’ve been a bit goalless.
I can’t decide if this is a bad thing. I don’t suffer from what seems to be the number one affliction of not having a goal which is lack of motivation. I genuinely love running and strength training and yoga–I have no desire to ever live without them. I’ll consistently get in 5-6 workouts a week whether I have something specific to aim for or not.
I guess I’ve been wondering if goal setting is generally linked to success. Are people who routinely set specific objectives for themselves leading more triumphant and meaningful lives than those of us who don’t?
This can all get pretty murky very quickly as obviously different people have different ideas of what success is. I reside in the camp that refuses to look at success linearly. I struggle a lot with all of my endeavors and I love a great story, so for me the simple, work hard= get what you want line is not only inconsistent with my experience, it’s also boring and oversimplified. In our culture, failure connotes such doom and finality. I think that’s wrong. If we’re failing, then we’re trying. If we’re failing all the time, then holy shit we’re really putting ourselves out there and consistently giving it a shot. I think that’s something to be proud of. It’s the not trying at all that should be challenged–not the failure.
I think because I can stay on track without a clear objective, I’ve actively resisted jumping back on the goal bandwagon. After spending pretty much all of 2017 with my eyes set on specific prizes, I’ve seem set to prove that goals aren’t necessary. As I write all of this though, I’m not sure I’ve even convinced myself that that is true. My marathon goal brought discipline to every single aspect of my life. I wrote consistently, I ate well, I for the most part got to bed at a decent hour. Making that goal a priority provided a tremendous amount of clarity and focus that I got to use for almost everything else in my life. Not a bad deal. Not so crazy to see if I can have that again, right?
I guess it’s understandable that I’ve needed a bit of a break, a few months to just enjoy being active for the love of being active. Perhaps now that I’ve had that pause, it’s time to get going again. But what of my goal? I love speedwork and tempo runs so I’m sure those will keep me engaged. But is trying to get faster for a 10k interesting enough to write about? We shall see my friends!
I’ve got about 7 weeks till my race and all of the sudden I’m googling “how to get a faster 10k time”. Looks like some serious mile repeat workouts are in my near future! I guess I’ve also got to decide what my actual goal is. I’ll get back to you all with that on my next “training” update.
I can’t lie, watching/tracking the Boston athletes today–I’m inspired as hell. All I want to do is all the hard things.
In the meantime, tell me…
Do you always have specific goals set for yourself? Or never? Or sometimes and you take breaks? What works best for you?
Do you think setting goals is an essential part of life, or is the concept pushed too hard?
Do you set goals in all different aspects of your life, or mostly in fitness?
Has it been difficult to set goals and keep them when they seem smaller than what you’ve tried for before? Are you always having to set goals that are “bigger” than what you have previously? Has this been positive/healthy for you, or not?
What’s your goal now–running or otherwise? I wanna know, let me hear it!
header image: justyn-warner