Yesterday, I ran a half marathon. If you know me from pre-2018, that may come as as shock.
For most of my life, I thought marathons were the stupidest thing a person could do. Why put yourself through something like that? Not just hours of doing nothing but running (BORING), but the pain too? No thanks. So when people brought them up, I made a point of saying you couldn’t pay me to do one. I even publicly declared this exact sentiment once, via tweet.
The thing is, life has a way of making you eat your words. Things change. You change. I used to hate brussels sprouts. Now I love ‘em.
Starting in May, I started to not hate running. It’s cheap. You don’t need equipment. And it’s one of the few things I can do now that doesn’t cause me more back pain. Exercise is important to keep you from going crazy, and I was going through some stuff, so, I started running, and started enjoying it.
It wasn’t long before I started thinking that running a half marathon was entirely within reach. I’m a natural runner, tall and skinny, long stride, played soccer my whole life. So I did something I vowed never to do. I closed my eyes, signed up for a half marathon and began to train.
Fast forward. As I was running for nearly two hours straight the marathon, I thought about a lot of things. One of my thoughts was the realization that running this marathon, and running it with a target time, was the first concrete goal I’d set for myself in a long time. Everything else has been like…write more, spend more time with friends, etc. No metrics. And when I noticed this, I also took note that it’s the only thing that’s given my life any structure recently, outside of work. I had to run, because I had a goal. And if I didn’t run, I wouldn’t accomplish my goal. A few miles later I was just thinking about the pain.
Seems obvious when you take a step back, but concrete, attainable goals are really really important. They have been missing from my life, and if you’re feeling a little wayward, maybe they’re missing from yours too.
Yesterday I crossed the finish line at a time of 1 hour 43 minutes and 59 seconds, a full minute and second ahead of my target time. I battled serious knee pain for a few miles but otherwise felt good during most of the run. It felt really good to accomplish. And now, I have to ask myself, what’s next.
What do you want?
And what are you willing to do to get it?