Listening to the latest Two Fit Chicks podcast, which was all about goals, helped me to put some things in perspective. I have been feeling down since my half marathon about how disappointing the experience was. I finished, and yes, I know that is admirable, but I didn't have fun. I was miserable and in pain for most of the second half of the race. I had hoped to get a big feeling of accomplishment from doing a challenging race, thought I would enjoy a course that promised to be scenic. So far so good. But not-so-incidentally, I was also hoping to drop a lot of weight. The last time I trained for and ran a half marathon, I ended up in the best shape of my life. This time around, I look only slightly different than when I started. Let's be honest, too, my husband is a runner and running is really important to him. I hoped to pull off a great race time and impress him with my accomplishment.
So see where I went wrong? I had ulterior motives for running the race: Lose weight and impress other people. I did think about the race itself, but sort of as a tangential benefit to the other two, not as the primary goal. Impressing my husband with any running time I'm going to manage to pull off is pretty near impossible -- sure, he is supportive of me no matter what my times. But to get to the level where the time itself impresses someone like him is not something I can realistically pull off, unless I somehow manage to be bitten by a radioactive spider or get caught in a freak nuclear accident in a science lab, like an old-time superhero. And if my primary goal was to lose weight, I could have put my time to better use actually following Weight Watchers to the letter instead of doing long workouts that built up a huge appetite.
I'm not sure what a good goal for me would be. After the half marathon, I'm not anxious to think about training for more long races. I have fun with sprint triathlons, so I'm sure I will continue to train for those, but at this point, they're just for fun and not a huge, motivating goal. The first time, when just finishing was an accomplishment, I felt pretty amazing. Then I got wrapped up in the whole issue of finish times and ...yeah. All that junk. I need to have an attitude more like Alison from Now The Plan Is This..., who guest-starred on the podcast today. She said that when people say they could never do a triathlon or a marathon, she says that they say that because they "don't just want to do the race, they want to be good at it." Guilty.
I'm not sure a big, guts-or-glory goal is what I need right now. The things I'm enjoying are not goals-focused, they're more the kind of things that are a practice. Right now I'm really into my watercolor painting -- I'm at the point now that when I pull out the paints, I am just figuring out how they work and what different strokes look like, rather than thinking I'm going to make a painting I could hang on my wall. I want to get back to a regular yoga practice to help manage some nagging things I've been dealing with since the half marathon. I want to focus in on healthy eating and someday, even manage to stay within my Weight Watchers points for an entire week.
I think my biggest goal right now is to get my head on straight, and learn to stop comparing and crucifying myself (another word from the podcast) and start appreciating the things I can do. Not everyone is an aspiring painter with a Ph.D. who can swim and make a mean frittata. I will probably never be a great runner, just like I will probably never be one of those people whose houses are always clean. I need to learn to be OK with being me.