Friday, September 23, 2011

Link: Dreams, Goals, & Expectations

feetI only recently started occasionally reading Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano's site, Run The Edge. For the most part, they tend to post light-hearted / funny / goofy stuff related to running, so it's pretty amusing to read. Recently, though, Adam posted a more serious piece entitled Adam Goucher: Olympic Dreams. It's a beautiful post that you should definitely read for yourself, but mainly he talks about how the way he thought about running and goal-setting changed for him between high school and his professional career. As a high school kid, he dreamed big, bold, audacious dreams (Olympic medals, world records, etc.) that filled him with joy and delirious excitement about running and training. As his career progressed, though, those euphoric dreams started to feel more and more like expectations, as if they weren't really his own anymore. His racing became less about achieving his dreams and more about meeting the expectations of others.
"When I was younger, I placed no limits on my dreams no matter how far fetched or improbable, but now I felt I needed to be realistic. I no longer allowed my imagination to soar and see myself shattering world records. Of course I still dreamt of winning the gold and deep down I would think, maybe just maybe… but I felt I needed to limit my dreams to more attainable goals like maybe a 10 second PR or a hard fought bronze."

Most of us don't face the same kind of pressure in terms of other people's expectations for our performance. Still, sometimes it's easy to put that pressure on ourselves to the point that running becomes less about the excitement of what we could achieve, and more about anxiety over what we feel like we have to achieve. Instead of filling us with excitement and a feeling of accomplishment, suddenly a good race is nothing but a relief. And rather than a learning experience that helps us to reflect and be thoughtful about our running and training, a bad race feels like an utter disaster.

In an effort to recapture that feeling of running for enjoyment and big, hairy, audacious dreams rather than meeting the expectations of others, Adam registered for the Rock N Roll Philly Half last Sunday. If he went under 65 minutes, he'd qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials (which would be his first ever marathon).
Does it sound like a crazy dream to imagine running my first marathon and qualifying for the Olympic games? Maybe. But once again it is my dream. It belongs to me...I know I am a long shot but I am healthy, motivated, and enjoying the chance to take one last shot at a dream. Most importantly, I am running for myself. I am running because I passionately love this sport. I feel connected with other runners again because our dreams are the same. We are all chasing the edges of our potential. I realize that I am no different from the runner who is striving to break 40 minutes in the 10K. We are both dreamers. We are both runners, kindred spirits, brothers and sisters in arms daring to dream big and letting our imaginations run wild.

It turns out he went 1:04:52 -- congrats, Adam! And congrats to everyone out there who raced Sunday, whatever dreams you're chasing.

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