No Finish Line in Sight

I’d like to talk a little about Goal Orientated Training and motivation today.

Goals can be very good things to have in our lives and achieving those benchmarks we set for ourselves can be very rewarding, but those same goals can prove to be a detriment in more ways then one.

By today’s standards, I have always been in decent physical condition.   But since 1994, when I left the Army and the semi-pro football team that I coached and played for, things had gotten a little different for me.

From 1990 to 1994, I would put on 25-30 pounds before football season and take it off once football season was over.   I would do this for the extra size…since I am naturally VERY small.

Entering Army– October 1989-  5’7″ 137 pounds.   28″ waist.

Leaving Army– July 1994- 5’7″ 150 pounds 29″waist.

D-Day (started regular exercise)- March 2008- 5’7″, 180 pounds 32″ waist.

For the 14 years between leaving the Army and D-Day, I had tried to get back into “shape” but had failed in every attempt…until I set a goal.

One week after I donated every pair of pants I owned that were less than 32″ in the waist, I decided that I was going to start running again.   Not necessarily to change anything about me, but to just to get back into shape.  

To ensure that I would stay focused, I signed up for a half-Marathon shortly after that point.   There was a desire to run in a race, but subconsciously, I knew that I needed a boost.   Every other time I tried to get back into shape, an excuse to stop would follow shortly after.

If I signed up (and paid) for a race, there was goign to be motivation to train properly to ensure I could actually run on race day.

It worked…or…it made ME work.   As the race drew closer, so did my intensity and I finished the 13.1 mile run in a respectable time…

I tried to keep running after the race, but noticed that the motivation wasn’t there.   By that time, I was already “swimming” in my size 32’s and new pants had to be purchased or I would be mistaken as a gang-banger with my underwear hanging out.

I felt myself slipping again…until I signed up for the full Marathon.

Another goal…

Other than some injuries obtained during training, everything went smoothly for the race at the end of March.

But here I am again…there is no finish line in sight.

This is where goals are a mixed blessing.

Having a goal to strive for is a great motivation factor when it comes to weight or conditioning, but what happens when those goals aren’t there?

For me, I joined a gym and still tried to run about 20 miles a week while finally mixing in some weight training.  

Losing weight or fitting into a smaller pants isn’t cutting it anymore. 

I am there.

Reaching those goals were important for my physical and emotional health, but the danger in not reaching those goals were even greater.  Not physically, but psychologically…

Goals can be very dangerous.   Thinking back, I was a twisted ankle or a sore knee away from falling short and failing in a goal that I had invested so much time, energy and effort in completing.

Sure, the end result worked for me, but I know that if things would have worked out differently, I would have gone to a place emotionally that would have set me back.

Now, when asked (and sometime even when I am not asked) about health and weight issues, the first thing out of my mouth is to make gradual lifestyle changes and not to set too many specific goals.

Not reaching goals (especially weight) can be a tough pill to swallow after a week of near-fasting and tiresome exercise.

So, after a couple of weeks without exercise, I got back on track this weekend…without a specific goal.

Just to go for a run, get some sun on my skin and enjoy the daylight by myself.

It felt good to get out there…and I tried hard not to look down at my watch to see how I was doing…but I failed in that goal.

Monday will find me back at the gym…but without a finish line to run towards.  

I know my 32″ pants are still too big and my 30″ pants are a little too small…but I couldn’t tell you my weight…I don’t really care, but…

It is tough being a “31” in a “30-32” world.

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5 Responses to No Finish Line in Sight

  1. Kimmothy says:

    Hi and welcome to our little crew!
    I liked this a lot – I think many of us are in the same boat and as a matter of fact, I inquired this weekend about a possible family trip to the beach that may or may not be happening over Labor Day weekend. Because I know myself and know that I’ll work a lot harder toward a goal if there is something specific in mind. Such as exposing myself on the beach next to a 5’10” sister-in-law who likes to show off her store-bought boobs.
    I’m telling myself that weekend is happening as a way of staying on track. It works! I know the idea is to be as healthy as possible no matter what, but reaching certain goals just seems to make things like exercising every damn day a lot easier to do.

    • For me, I seem to set “nearly unreachable” goals…like a Marathon. There is almost no where to go from there.

      I am toying with weekly goals of time of exercise or something that is reachable…20 miles and three to four days of lifting, but nothing too drastic. I think the comedy thing is a part of the same thing for me too…all or nothing…need to get out of that cycle.

  2. Taoist Biker says:

    I know what you mean about the goals. Soon after I got back into weightlifting a few years ago, I set myself a goal of a 1000-pound combined lift (bench press/deadlift/squat). It was a lofty goal, but not an insane one.

    I had actually passed 900 pounds and was feeling great about myself. Then I wrecked my motorcycle and ended up in a few months of physical therapy to rehab my wrists. I should have rehabbed my left elbow tendons as well but I didn’t – and they took probably two years to heal back to normal.

    It turned out that I was cheating my squats anyway – not going deep enough – but losing all that progress got me all depressed and I more or less quit going to the gym entirely for over a year. Since then I’ve been a LOT more hesitant to set concrete goals like that so I don’t end up so dejected that I quit on myself.

    That’s pretty much the opposite of what every weightlifting article will tell you, but I know myself better than that. Keeping plugging away won’t give me the satisfaction of making a big goal…but it also won’t encourage me to cheat, or injure myself in the pursuit of it. And it won’t set me up for a failure either.

    Edited to add: All my pants are a 38″ waist. Fucker. 😛

  3. Laura says:

    “Child-like in appearance”… heh. No you’re not. Ya look like a man to me!

    You know, I don’t think I have an actual exercise goal… just a weight goal. Setting small, achievable goals at first is good, though it is possible to set goals that are TOO easy, then you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. It’s a fine line. I think a half-marathon is a great goal, even if you’ve done them before… and once you get a couple of those under your belt, then you can strive for the full marathon.

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