Crushing Self-Doubt with the Short Achievable Goal Theory

April 24th, 2013

Have you ever had the pleasure of looking back on all or part of your training camp and find yourself in awe of your own accomplishment?  Your diligent planning, your resolute consistency to not miss workouts and to go the extra mile, your mental strength to stay motivated at all turns, your sheer determination on a daily basis to be better than your competition, your dietary discipline ensuring your body is fueled like a rocket.  Have you ever looked back on your accomplishments and thought to yourself – Self, you are absolutely fantastic?

Yeah, me neither.

Life is one turbulent SOB, and if you throw in work, family, attempts at fun, and, oh, training for a 100-mile ultra marathon, well sometimes, hell most of the time, not everything fits in the box.  We are human, and I think one of the things that make humans human is not necessarily our ability to pick ourselves up when we are down, which is a great trait and not to be overlooked.  But another characteristic of humankind is the ridiculous ability to set expectations that are unachievable.  What other species does that?  I don’t see fish jumping out of the water and then saying, “I am going to walk today.”

I have long prescribed to the short achievable goal theory – you want something and you want it badly, so you set a short timeline of goals and start marking them off the list.  I try to start the week with a goal of 5-7 workouts and then mark them off one by one.  And, you know, it was working.

But somewhere along the way my mind started drifting to the end goal, to the finish line in downtown Leadville.  I started thinking about the thin air, the fortitude it takes to finish 100 miles, the fitness it takes to even consider it, the VO2 max I will need to accomplish this and BOOM, I am consumed with self-doubt.  I can’t do this, I missed a workout last week.  I opted to stay up with my wife and talk last night and missed my run this morning.  I drank a few beers with my buddies and shortened my long run by 5 miles.  I can’t do this, I haven’t done all the work.  I will fail.  Self-doubt.  It is evil and can taint your life in an instant.

I for one think we should take more time to contemplate just how bad ass we are.  Because when you think about all we do, we are pretty bad ass.  So, I am hitting reset and going back to setting short achievable goals, and I am choosing to look at self-doubt and spit in its face.  I will finish, I will achieve, and I will have fun trying, or I will give everything I have in failure. Any way you cut it, I will win.  Will you?

Post birthday run, (FL) Jordan, Denver, Jason, Dean.

Post birthday run, (FL) Jordan, Denver, Jason, Dean.

For those that missed it, I turned 37 last month and opted to run 37 miles on my birthday.  It was a Tuesday, and the idea was to crush 20 miles at 4 a.m., semi-crush 10 miles at lunch, survive the last 7 in the evening, and drink beers afterward at Deep Eddy, all the while working a full day in between.

Holy S@*t it was so hard.  The 20 miles started with 6 of us braving the 4am hour and at times cruising miles around a 7:15 pace.  Fun?  Yes. Smart?  No.  By the way, do you know people that would be willing to show up at 4am to run with you?  Do you know anyone that would show up at 4am for anything?  The 4 a.m. Club is a powerful Club, I strongly recommend you find one, whatever your ‘thing’ may be.

Dean and Jason braved all the runs and completed the full 37 with me.  Dean and I go back to 2nd grade, and guilting him to run all day with me is pretty typical for us.  I was there for the last 45 miles of Dean’s 100-mile debut last fall (which he ran in just over 24 hours…an unbelievable display of human will and determination from someone who is normally such a puss).  As for Jason, we are certainly friends but I have no guilt mechanism for him.  Nah, he just showed up for the hell of it.  That is pretty cool…or, he is really bored.  Either way, I was extremely thankful for both of them.

Deep Eddy celebration.

Deep Eddy celebration.

The lunch and evening runs were, for the most part, about as miserable as they could possibly be.  But, despite a near total bonk, we finished.  And, we had just enough energy left for one beer.  What a day and what a challenge.  I would encourage you to try it.  Let me know if you do, I might even come out for a few of the miles.

It is April 24th, 114 days to prepare.

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