How Do You Measure Success?

I am a firm believer in setting goals.  In relationship to running, my goals change depending on what race I am running, or the type of commitment I give to a training plan.  When I first starting running, my first goal was to train and finish a 5K race without stopping to walk.  It didn’t matter to me how long it took me to finish; only that I did.  I remember on race day, I was about 3K into the race, and all I wanted to do was walk.  My stubbornness kept me going and I finished the race keeping with my goal.

Those days are long past, and I’ve learned a lot about running, but more importantly, I learned about my own body and how it reacts when running.  One of the things I learned, is that walking during a race, isn’t a bad thing for me, and usually my race plans do incorporate a walk/run interval plan.  I generally do better from a time perspective with this type of plan than a full out running plan.  Although, I initially had a goal of running a race non-stop, my success when learning how to run, was really based upon learning about myself, my capabilities as a runner, and finding out what works from a training perspective.  Sometimes, we find our successes are not necessarily measured by our initial goals and our successes help to build us up to be the best runner we can be.

As time moved on, and many races later, I’ve had different goals.  Many goals were to finish a race.  Such was the case with running the Goofy Challenge.  Although, I did measure my success in physically finishing the Goofy, I also measured my success in staying positive during the race.   Positivity definitely played a role in physically getting me over the finish line.

I’ve had other goals, such as timed goals.  As well, I sometimes have seasonal goals such as running a number of races during a specific time frame, or making goals as to how many times per week I train.

I think it’s important to note, that success can also be measured in how you feel towards your running.  Are you still excited to put on those running shoes after a long day at work?  Do you still enjoy that feeling you get when you cross the finish line?  Perhaps your success is based on motivating your children or family members towards an active lifestyle.  It might even be about running for a cause and raising money for your local charity.

Do you put to much pressure on yourself to achieve your running success?  Goals can be a tricky thing, and it’s always important to stay realistic.  For example, if you’ve run a 5K race and your time was 37 minutes, it would be unrealistic to set your next 5K goal at 25 minutes.  A more suitable goal might be to shave off a few minutes, depending on one’s training schedule and endurance level.  While it’s always great to strive for new goals, putting too much pressure on unattainable goals; which may seem enthusiastic to some, only leads to frustration and disappointment if not within reach.

No matter how we measure our success, it’s important to know, that you can change your goals or focus.  You can learn something new about yourself each and every time.  Sometimes, the best observations come from being in the journey and having those ‘A-HA’ moments you never thought you’d have.  When I think about all the stories of the disappointed NYC Marathoners this past week, and how they found a way to adapt to the cancelled race and move forward to help the victims of Sandy by donating their time to the clean up effort, I can only think how some were emotionally fulfilled.  Some may even say, their success was in their motivation to help their fellow man, to help them ‘cross the finish line’ in order to build back their lives; putting aside their personal goals and unselfishly giving of themselves.

How do you measure your success?  Is your success always what you set out to do or do you find new successes as you go along?  Do you find success even when you don’t achieve your goals?  


7 thoughts on “How Do You Measure Success?

  1. I love this! I just finished my first marathon, and though every part of me wanted to set some time goal, I followed my plan’s advice, and made my only goal : JUST FINISH. It was so freeing to let go of everything else. I didn’t worry about my “time” or if I walked (I did walk up a few hills and took one minute walk breaks through the aid stations), I just kept my unwavering focus on finishing. And I had a great time! I agree it’s so important to listen to our bodies and take into consideration all the external factors facing us and adjust our goals accordingly.

    Sometimes we have to adjust our goals, and sometimes, yes, we’ll even fall short of our goals. But I think if we learn from our experiences and if we get up every time we fall, then no doubt that is success.

    Great post, thank-you!

  2. I do have goals that focus mainly on events, but I do try to be fluid in my goals…kind of flexible enough that if my abilities or the conditions change I can move my goals with it without too much collateral damage to my psyche. I am stubborn too however and do try to strive for what I want to achieve so that fluidity can sometimes be difficult to keep.

  3. I love this post! I 100% agree with that! My goals are forever changing depending on how I feel, the time of year, etc. I might find out something new about my abilities that make me strive for something else. However I never set a goal to compete against anyone but myself. Everytime I get out to run a marathon I tell myself I just want to finish. A PR would be nice, but the most important thing is that I have fun and can walk away ready for the next one! 🙂

    • Great attitude! Yes, Goals are great, but in the end, there always is a next one. Standing upright after the race, is just as important as running the race itself. Even with a medal in one hand, it’s no fun crawling to the car! 😉

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