It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Goals worth pursuing often seem daunting. Take a degree or an apprenticeship for example. Focusing on the diploma or certification can make a goal appear unreachable. It’s more productive to focus on short-term objectives, incremental improvements, and maintaining your edge. When your concentration shifts from earning a degree to studying, assignments, and exams you will see and feel progress, which results in a sense of accomplishment. This is an effective strategy that works for any goal requiring endurance, from playing an instrument to running an ultra-marathon.
A friend recently asked how my training was coming along for the ultra-marathon. Hmmm, I knew there was something I’d forgotten–the 50K (31 mile) race I registered for. Not a great feeling. But instead of freaking out and focusing on the distance, I considered my overall condition and experience.
I wouldn’t have been able to shift focus had I not kept myself in reasonably good condition and have years of experience–in other words, my edge–nor if I was starting from scratch. I ran a marathon in October and have taken a couple of three-hour runs since. My strategy for the marathon can’t be found in fitness magazines or running books. I stayed in a bubble the entire race–I didn’t look at clocks, did my best to avoid seeing any mile markers, and streamed a lot of really good music. I’m planning a similar strategy for the ultra.
When I was caught slacking on my training, I immediately went out for a three-and-a-half hour run. Time-driven training is something I picked up from a runner on West River Drive in Philly many years ago. He told me that instead of doing the highly touted twenty-mile training run for the marathon he did a three-hour run. I adopted the strategy after I ran the Boston Marathon. Free of qualifying goals and personal records, running became more fun.