Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Living My Journey, Not My Goals

Today, I turn 40 years old.  It is quite a sobering thought, really.  At the same time, though, I feel alive and wonderful.  When I look back over the years I have spent on this earth, I am sobered by how quick time has flown by.  I know that time won’t be slowing down any time soon, either.  However, I don’t feel any older than I did yesterday.  I feel healthy and vibrant.  In fact, I feel better than I did through my teens and 20s because of the lifestyle changes I have made over this past decade.  Becoming more active, eating a diet of whole foods, and growing my self has been life-changing and so beneficial.

As a New Year’s Eve baby, I have the unique opportunity to reflect over the past year’s experiences as I transition into a new year.  However, I choose not to make New Year’s resolutions because I know me and I know that when combining a list of resolutions (the bigger, the better, in my mind, though I know better than that) with my humanness, chances are I will most likely break those resolutions.  So, I work at making small changes the whole year through, changes that I can implement and make a part of my life.  Don’t get me wrong…those small changes can sometimes get derailed in a big way, if I don’t take the time necessary to fully implement them.

Take, for instance, my training for a 50k next year.  I started my training the beginning of December.  I was ready for it and felt a huge sense of drive and motivation to get out there and “do this!”  Then, life got in the way.  I’m sure you are all familiar with life and it’s ability to get in the way of accomplishing things we set out to do.  Life, in my case, was a sore hip flexor that didn’t want to cooperate with my training.  Life was also a virus that settled into my lungs over two weeks ago, that is still trying to keep a grasp on my lungs, though I think I have finally kicked the majority of the nastiness out.  All of you runners know how difficult it can be to push yourself to run when anything is going on in your lungs.  After all, if you can’t breathe, it makes it really difficult to do any sort of running.

So, I spent the first two weeks of December tending to my hip flexor, doing more walking than running.  And, I spent the last two weeks just doing anything I could to get outside and keep moving, so as not to lose all of the conditioning and gains I have made over the last 11 months, since I started running in February 2013.  The third week, in particular, was the hardest to swallow, because I didn’t make it out, even for a walk, that week.  Most of my time was spent in bed and then, when I made it back to work after two days missed, I focused my energy on getting through work, since work is spent on my feet the entire time I am there.

Life got in the way.  It got in the way, to the extent, that I missed every goal I had in place for the month of December.  Not hitting those goals has been hard medicine to swallow.  I have questioned my ability, my motivation, my desire, my willingness, or lack thereof in all four areas, many times over the last month.  It has been a hard month.  It has also been an enlightening month.  I realized that life’s circumstances do not dictate my ability, motivation, desire, and willingness, unless I let those circumstances dictate those things to me.  I have the choice to perceive life as getting in the way or as what it is…life!

I have made the choice to view my circumstances as positive ones.  I put in quite a bit of mileage the first two weeks of December despite my tender hip flexor, and while it may not have been all running, it included walking and I didn’t have to completely stop doing either.  I was able to continue running and walking while my hip flexor mended.  Though I wasn’t able to put in near the mileage I wanted over the last two weeks, I am no worse off than I was before and I feel ready to get back out there and get back to what I love…running.  Also, that time off allowed complete mending of my hip flexor and it is stronger than ever now.

Yesterday, I went to the track and I ran for an hour.  I turned off everything that had to do with distance and pace on my watch and I ran solely based on total time and heart rate.  It was one of the best things I could have done, thanks to my husband recommending I do it.  It cleared my head of all the nonsensical junk and I ran for the love of running instead of running to train.  It was mind-clearing and much needed, both physically and mentally.  My plan is to do the same thing today.  I will go for total time instead of distance and pace.  Eventually, I will train, again, using pace and distance, but for now, I am keeping it simple, bringing my focus back to the pleasure I get from running and away from an end goal almost a year away.

I am excited about what the future holds, but more importantly, I am excited about now, about living in the moment and enjoying the journey.  I hope you all are, too.  Best wishes for the coming year, but better-than-best wishes as you live your journey.  May you live life fully and may it be filled with joy.  Happy New Year!

What do you do when life gets in your way?  How do you overcome perceived setbacks?  What do you do to stay in the moment of your journey and enjoy it?  I look forward to reading your comments and hearing about your journeys.


  1. happy birthday shannon ... and good for you for just paying attention to your body and keeping it simple. i'm working hard to do that now so that i stop fixating on qualifying for boston. keep up the good stuff!

    1. Thank you, Patrick. It sure is tough keeping it simple, isn't it? I struggle with listening to my body because sometimes I wonder if it's a lack of mental toughness or if it really is my body talking to me...I just have to do the best I can in interpreting everything! Best wishes as you continue on your journey.

  2. Wow! You're one tough cookie that's for sure. You're right tho. Training and life get in the way of each other sometimes and it can be downright demoralising. I've found that if I give myself two or three targets to achieve and only one of them is running then if you can't run you can still focus on the other targets until you get back to running.
    Happy birthday and rock on in the new year

    1. That is a great way to approach your goals. I will be keeping that in mind as I put new goals in place. I was certainly demoralized most of this month as I watched goal after goal fall by the wayside. Thanks for the insight and may you have a fantastic new year!