Goals, or No Goals

As a coach I often expressed to my athletes the importance of setting both short-term and long-term goals.   For the aspiring distance runner to reach his/her full potential,  a training regimen that imcorporates a variety of workouts is essential.   I can still hear myself challenging young men and women to aspire to do well in an upcoming meet, but to also ultimately be planning for the regional championship event later in the season.   I emphasized that both goals were important; however, the one three or four months down the road significantly meant more than the one for the next day.

That was the thirty-something year-old coach talking.  Now the “almost” old man thinks differently.  At this point in my life, I’m convinced that the only goal that really matters is the one set for today.  What happens two months, or even two days, in the future really carries little importance.  I was quickly reminded of what should be a “live for today” philosophy about 8:00 A.M. today.  Perhaps a goalless future should be my focus.

Just twenty-four hours ago I set a somewhat long-term goal of moving on foot for at least 6.6 miles each day in the month of May to “celebrate, mark, or lament” my sixty-sixth birthday.  Without really thinking through what I was doing, I carelessly posted my “not really that ambitious” goal on this blog.  Despite having countless times reminded myself not to share goals publicly, I foolishly did.  And I did so without having wood nearby to “knock on.”  I don’t really believe in jinxes, but if I did, I’d say at about this time yesterday, I jinxed myself.

After a rather lengthy layoff, I chose to resume writing on this website for several reasons at the beginning of my birthday month.  I’ll share more of those reasons in future posts, but for now I want to continue to chastise myself further for my writing about this running, walking, hiking goal.  It may have to be altered (I do say “may”) due to a word that I cringe to even utter, “injury.”  Albeit, hopefully only a very minor one, still I “may” have to re-evaluate that ill-conceived long-term goal.

Yesterday’s 6.6 miles went just fine.  I walked to a nearby park, ran 4 miles as I had planned at a respectable 9:18 pace (for an “old man”), walked some in the park, and then walked home.  The walking totaled just over 2.6 miles, so on May 1, I had started well with my 6.6 miles met.  I couldn’t have felt better.  The slightly cooler temps after the storms refreshed me.  My mind accelerated throughout the workout, leaving me not only feeling physically refreshed, but mentally smiling as well.

So on an almost crisp morning today, I eagerly looked forward to a six mile run with an old running buddy from over three decades and a newer running friend only slightly older than a third of my age.  Steve, the elder friend, and I often competed for age-group awards in the ’80s.  He still trains with intensity, and when running with my old buddy every Tuesday morning for the past three months, I’ve discovered new enthusiasm and a desire to run “fast” again.  Tino, the younger runner, is just beginning to realize his potential.  Patiently listening to Steve and me re-live some of our younger racing days, he runs ahead at intersections to ensure that no motorists will fail to yield to our trio.

Today I was running about as well as I have in months until around mile 4.5.  The sub-9:00 miles felt great, and Steve and I took turns telling the stories as Tino seemed content to listen.  Then I began to feel an uncomfortable annoyance in my left upper groin.  I later said to my two companions, “It’s taken over thirty-seven years for me to have a groin injury.”  Honestly, I can never recall even a soreness in that area.  I’ve strained quads, calves, and hamstrings, had tendinitis in a variety of joints, and suffered from a sore hip ever since I fractured my femur in 1996, but I can never remember a groin issue.

I first slowed my pace, telling Steve and Tino to keep running.  Then at five miles I decided it best to walk.  I did finish the 6.6 with the combined run and walk; however, I’m not sure if my “lofty” goal will be accomplished.  I’m not giving up yet.  I’ve iced the area, taken an anti-inflammatory, and plan to rest, at least for a while.  Fortunately, there’s no pain or soreness when I walk, so tomorrow afternoon I’ll go for a stroll at a comfortable pace to test it.  If all goes well, I may try to run a little on Thursday.

What I won’t do is share any more long-term goals in this blog.  And for that matter, maybe I won’t make any more either.  On second thought, that’s impossible.  I already have some things I hope to accomplish on the Appalachian Trail later this spring.  I just won’t talk about what those things are until they have already happened, and if I mistakenly comment on something I plan to achieve in the “distant” future, I’ll definitely make sure that I “knock on wood” when doing so.


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