Monday, January 5, 2009

What are you afraid of?

Several years ago I realized that I was afraid of failure. Not so afraid that I wouldn't actually start something, but definitely very afraid of failing.

After grad school I spent three years chasing a marathon dream of breaking 3 hours. Somewhere along the way I became caught up in numbers and putting value and self-worth into a race result. I ran a number of very fast and successful marathons during this time-frame. In none of those races did I break 3 hours.

I'm now able to look back on those marathons and realize that I really had a lot of fun training for them and traveling to the different locations to race, often meeting my Dad at the race and racing together. Unfortunately, each time that I did not break 3 hours for some reason I thought I had failed.

When I got into triathlon my "break 3 hours" goal was temporarily set aside for new adventures and goals.

And the more I've gotten into training and racing, the more I've realized how much I really love the process of chasing a goal, whether the goal is accomplished or not. Goals drive me to work hard and see if I can do more than I thought possible. Finding out I can is just icing on the cake.

I'm going to revisit my "break 3 hours in the marathon" goal someday. I still believe that it can happen. But when I do, I think it's going to be a bit of a different approach - a fun goal to chase, and a fun process. End of story - no value put into numbers or times, and no feelings of failure.

10 comments:

solarpowered said...

Whoa. These are exactly the thoughts/feelings I've had, too -- except my goal is to break 4 hours! Closest I've come is 4:08:xx. I know I want to revisit that goal, but this past fall it was really cool to run the Marine Corps Marathon without the pressure of attempting a PR. It was a great day :D

beth said...

good call! let me know when you're ready for that sub 3 marathon- pretty sure we could get there together!
you've already accomplished my goal of choice- qualify for Kona one day!

happy new year!

beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maggs said...

I too am goal driven. It keeps me on track and gives me something to focus on when it gets painful...in training and racing. But it is nice to take a break from them every once in a while. Allows you to refocus and maybe come up with a different plan of attack

ADC said...

I also need goals. I cannot train just to train, I need something to aim for, a date in my diary. Good luck, I am sure you can break 3 hours one day.

Snakebite said...

You go, girl!

Jeffrey said...

I'm totally with you. Maybe Vince Lombardi had it wrong when he said, "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious." Cut out the last word and the statement still holds true, at least for me. Then again, perhaps that's what makes me a LOSER!

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Love this story! Would you believe I avoided setting goals most of my life...sad, I know. Not anymore. I am goal queen - sort of. Loving the focus that a goal brings.

rocketpants said...

IT is a great and positive way to think about goal setting and how to strive towards them without putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. Enjoy the process of achieving those goals, not achieving a particular goal on a given day doesn't equate to failure, just that there is now another day out there waiting for that goal to be realized.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

BRAVO! I LOVE it - yes yes yes, you are right on track. The process, the training - all important. Failure? It's all in the eye of the beholder - sounds like you're really maturing! That's awesome! NOW that the (self-induced) pressure is off, I know the sub 3 hr marathon is not too far away. You CAN do it!

Great entry - nice to see you at the pool this morning. :)