For endurance athletes, the end of the calendar year triggers dreams of the big goal for next year. What could it be? Is it even possible? How? To make it so, what must be? What must not be? The questions and analyses percolate for hours, days, weeks, even months. And that's just identifying it. Then the real work begins. Gotta plan. Gotta organize. Gotta train. Gotta turn everything around to focus on the big goal.
I've spent most of my adult life with such a mindset, resulting in many memorable races, events and destinations over the years. There's much to be said for setting a big goal and working to achieve it. I'm a big fan of big goals.
|The big goal dominates all thought, like Pikes Peak looming over the Colorado landscape.
Back in 1989, my big goal was the Pikes Peak Marathon.
It's all good. Until there is no next big goal. Or identifying the next big goal is elusive. What then?
In July of 2017, I finally completed a bicycle ride covering the 310 miles of the Black Hills BackBone, a North-to-South remote road crossing of the State of South Dakota. Admittedly, the ride was different from that originally conceived, but I celebrated achieving a major, multi-year goal. Three Days of BackBone.
Then I drifted.
Months passed. Fitness plunged. Weight soared. In October of 2017, the changing season eventually triggered a nagging feeling that I needed a big goal to kick start stuff. But identifying it was more than elusive. For some reason, I could not even begin to consider one.
|A simple journey with no big goal in sight.
But what? What's missing? Running. I don't run any more, since all but abandoning it over 15 years ago. Thousands of hours spinning circles over the years must have physically changed something. Running now is awkward and uncomfortable, rather than natural and smooth. This will be difficult to start, let alone maintain, especially without a big goal.
Then, one morning I just started. It was short (less than a mile), slow (barely above walking speed) and painful (ice and ibuprofen afterwards). Too sore to run the next day, I ran again the day after that. To allow some recovery, I decided to run just three mornings a week, making the third run on my favorite M-Hill trails. Time passed, but progress was almost imperceptible. I repeatedly reminded myself that speed and distance mattered not. Just keep at it.
Now, over a year later, I am still running three early mornings a week. Speed, distance and difficulty have increased some, but not a lot. Maybe that's the next step, or maybe not. I just love getting back out there running. A part of me awoke from a long slumber.
I didn't set or achieve the next big goal in 2018. It's much bigger than that.