Passion and Pursuit: Sprints and Marathons

Passion and Pursuit is going to be a reoccurring theme for me. I’m not going to do it every post, but I this is a topic I will be chewing on through out 2020. The last one was about chasing my own butt.

The beginning of the year is when we all experience a burst of energy. We are so passionate about goals. We set scores of resolutions and jump in head first. I’m not saying this is bad, but we have all heard the scorn for resolutions because the failure rate is so high.

New years resolutions make me think of back when I tried to be a runner. I, for those of you who don’t know, am NOT a runner. I can’t go 100 yards without getting shin splints. This is for real. One of the first things that I learned when I was trying to be a runner, was how much farther away everything was. I would be feeling good and take off and what I thought was a comfortable pace and after about a minute, I was gassed. I had cramps. I had to walk. I, much like everyone who starts a new years resolution, was off to a sprint. I had passion, but I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t consider my body, what I was capable of, the trained habits of my life. I thought I could just bull doze 30 years of sitting on the couch in a matter of minutes. Guess what…not possible.

Starting to fast results in burn out early

I remember when it changed though. I read an article about how many steps per minute and at what cadence they should be in. I thought it sounded crazy, but they said it was true of all runners. The faster ones just have more distance between their steps, so they adjust their cadence. I hit the track with this knowledge and even set a metronome. I was shuffling like a 90 year old man trying to get to the bathroom after his prune juice (slow but with urgency). I looked ridiculous. My running partner laughed and told me I was doing it wrong, but I stuck to it. What this did was adjust my mindset from a sprinting mentality to a marathon mentality. It conserved energy and impact on my body. It allowed me to go further and feel good about what I accomplished. That day I was able to make a few laps around the track when before I was mostly walking. Over time, I was able to take larger steps and move faster, but it was always at that set steps per minute.

What significance is the steps per minute in real life and resolutions? It’s the plan. The mechanism to achieve goals. The reason resolutions fail is because they lack planing. It is a burst of energy that does a bunch of stuff and accomplishes nothing, except probably a self-inflicted injury. A plan allows us to go further with less impact (i.e. injury to ourselves and those around us).

The plan has to account for a few factors: 1) It has have a realistic assessment of the current status. If you have been sitting on the couch for years, you cannot build a plan as if you are an Olympic athlete. 2) The plan needs to be a marathon, not a sprint. Your new year resolution should be resolved by March. It should be something you can start small and build momentum so that by December you are the person you set out to be. For example, I have 12 bullet points on my goals. I haven’t made it past the first 3. If I don’t get the first one in place, I can’t do the other two. If I don’t have those three in place, I won’t achieve the other 9. This is a marathon and I’m not going to finish tomorrow.

At least in the race of life, they don’t make us wear spandex.

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