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4th January 2014

Ultra Runners Need Inspiring Goals

achievements, endurance, endurance mind, inspiring

Goal Setting 2014

What are your goals for 2014 ? What races are you targeting ? What times are you hoping to achieve ? Where are you running ?

The start of the year is a fantastic time to review your achievements in the previous year and set targets for the coming year.

Why is it so important to have goals, objectives, targets – whatever you want to call them ? It’s all about having a reason to get out of bed in the morning, in all weathers, whatever else is going on in your life.

What happens when you don’t have a goal, or goals to shoot for is that it is so easy to make excuses, you don’t have the energy, the feeling when you get back from a training run just isn’t the same.

Most runners are goal orientated people. Whether it is a goal to finish in a higher position in a particular race than the previous year, or break a specific PB, or take on a challenge that you think is beyond you, like a new distance or multiday event. We even set ourselves goals of getting to the next checkpoint of the next kilometre mark. We all use and need goals to keep us focused.

I remember on my first UTMB setting myself goals of getting to the CP at the top of each mountain, and down in each valley. When I got there I felt good, celebrated with a coffee and food, then moved onto the next goal. The race went much quicker.

I have always believed that it is not just important to set goals every year, but that they need to be challenging goals. They need to be goals that stretch and inspire you.

Les Brown, the US motivational speaker says “Unless you attempt to do something beyond which you have already mastered you will never grow”

It is so easy to set yourself achievable and realistic goals, the problem is with these goals, they don’t inspire. If you know you can achieve them with a minimum of effort then you won’t push yourself to do it, you won’t learn anything new, and you won’t get that great feeling when you achieve it.

We all know that feeling I am talking about. The one that makes you feel a bit tearful, that high that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up every time you think about it. It is a high that you can only get if you have pushed yourself to achieve a real stretch goal. You can tell when you are setting stretch goals, because you hesitate, you start getting nervous about doing it, you think, “I can’t do that”…………. “I can’t” is a great indicator that you are just about to set a stretch goal.

I have had this great feeling many times when I have achieved something that pushed me outside of my comfort zone, or sphere of knowledge. Whether it was in the Army, or in a race.

I remember in 2007 when I was watching the Marathon Des Sables on television and said to Anna, I have always fancied doing that event. She said well go and enter it. I then came up with a stack of reasons why not and felt really nervous. When I did enter it gave me a huge amount of energy and inspiration to discover a whole new world of long distance multiday ultra running.

When I entered the UTMB for the first time, I thought that this is such a huge challenge, can I really run over 100 miles and climb the height of Everest, non-stop.

However, the high I got from completing these events was like nothing I have felt before. The emotions that flow over you when you have achieved something that you have focused on for so long are incredible.

I know all of you will have had this feeling at some point in your sporting or personal or business life, it is a like a drug. Why ? because mediocrity or achieving something that you know does stretch you just “sucks”.

So the two words I urge people to take out of their vocabulary is “realistic” and “achievable”. I personally believe anything is achievable. Anything can be achieved with the right motivation, focus and strategy.

So as you are sitting down to set your goals for 2014, think about something you have always wanted to do, but never thought you could. Maybe it is your first 100 miler, or your first ultra marathon, or your first Ironman, or first desert run. Whatever makes you feel nervous, or scared and you start finding excuses why not, that is the goal you should go for.

I had someone at one of my speeches ask me a question. She said, what happens if I set an unrealistic and unachievable goal and fail. I will loose my self esteem and feel like a failure.

My answer was simple. If you have only ever run a ½ marathon before and you set yourself a goal of running a marathon. Let’s say you don’t complete it, but you manage to run 22 miles…………… is that failure ?? You may not have achieved your stretch goal, but you will have completed a distance further than you have ever been before, and learnt loads in the process.

That is the great thing about stretch goals. You don’t just grow by achieving the goal, you also grow by going through the process of getting to the goal.

Good luck for 2014 and whatever goals you set yourself, just make sure they inspire, stretch and scare you.

All the best…………….. Neil…………..

The Endurance Mind

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