Wednesday 31 August 2011

On the subject of goals

Something that I have learned over the past year of being a runner is that it is extremely easy to get caught up in chasing result-driven goals. Now, there is nothing wrong with this type of goal but if you don't stand back and focus on the really important things every now and then, these goals can end up dominating your whole running programme.

I think there is a real possibility that what was once a fun hobby can easily become a cycle of over-training, imbalances in our home-lives, frustration when unable to train due to injury, and disappointment if goals are not achieved. It can also turn running into a chore that must be done to hit certain mileage targets instead of an activity that we do for pure enjoyment.

You could, for example, have a goal to run 50 miles per week but if that goal takes priority over all other goals you could quite easily find yourself wondering where the enjoyment has gone or why you are often taking time out due to injury.

So, what if we looked at the initial setting of goals from another angle.

In the book chi-running the author, Danny Dreyer, breaks down different goals into two groups, result-oriented and body-oriented goals.

Result-oriented goals are generally externally motivated and are focused on impressing or earning praise (e.g., to win a certain race), whereas body-oriented goals keep the focus on the process and come from within (e.g., to enjoy running). He suggests removing any goals that fall in the former category completely. As is usual for me, I see the value in both and would like to try a different approach to setting and (hopefully) achieving my goals.

I've decided to organise my goals in a way that lets me use both groups, but with the addition of a couple of rules to help to keep the focus on the body-oriented goals.
  • Body-oriented are primary.
  • Result-oriented are secondary.
  • I must not do anything that contravenes or moves me away from any of the body-oriented goals in order to achieve another goal (result or body).
Previously, all of my listed goals were result-oriented. They have been demoted to secondary ones and my body-oriented goals have taken over as my primary ones (just as the rules dictate). As I update them quite often I'll just leave the link to the page here in case you want to have a look at my current goals. You can also click on the goals tab at the top of the page.

When I have a race I will set additional goals that are specific to that race. They are likely to be result driven, but the rules (above) will still apply!

I feel like I've moved in the right direction. What do you think? Also, if you'd like to share your goals or any tips please feel free to write in the comments box.

Thanks for reading.


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