Pumpkin Curry and Ultra Marathons.

It’s safe to say, setting a goal can be grossly terrifying. The pressure to achieve them can feel inundating, as if it’s mere existence takes on a physical presence upon which you simply cannot bear the weight of. But in all of its ability to overwhelm, setting a goal is hugely rewarding. And I think a lot of the time we forget (because we are a results-oriented society) that it’s the process where all of the growth comes from.

Recently, I had this weird realization. My boyfriend looked at me, and forgetting the context of our conversation said, “you know, it’s a weird thing, but no matter how hard you try, people don’t ever change.” This struck me in both a bizarre and revelatory fashion, and after taking a minute to digest what he said, I realized he was right.

I want to change. I want to learn, I want to grow. I want to shoot for the moon and bounce from crater to crater.

learning to love the track

I set a goal. It’s a goal that either it happens or it doesn’t, but what I’m most fascinated to find out is how I adapt my lifestyle leading into it. I want to really see how setting a goal can change me. I love the phrase that if you want something to change, you’re never going to get there doing what you’ve always done. I know that a lot of my career as a runner has been plagued by this; I follow the same routine, the same dietary patterns, the same thought processes and this is how far I’ve come.

Sure, I’m a good runner, but how on earth do I expect to get better if I don’t ever do anything different? Achieving success, however you chose to define that, is marked by one’s ability to find comfort in what is difficult, to take the boundaries of what is easy and push them to what is worthwhile. And what is really important to distinguish here though, is that finding that definition of success, doesn’t mean conforming to the stereotypical “hustle” and “sleep is for the weak” mentality.

the process looks different for everyone

I don’t know if come January I’ll achieve my goal. I want it so badly it sometimes gets in the way of falling asleep easily, but I know that regardless of the outcome, I’ll be proud of how hard I fought leading into it. I’m making sure that each and every day, I do one thing that gets me closer to it. Somedays it means simply getting out for a run, blasting tunes in my earbuds and making sure I’m enjoying myself. 

 

deep breaths and all the reps

Other days, it means going for that same run, but repeating to myself over and over again the importance of slow and the importance of recovery. It means stopping mid run when the leaves are falling and taking a picture to enjoy the seasons changing. 

And sometimes, being one step closer to my goal simply means journaling all my thoughts. It means paying close attention to my immediate self and checking in with my emotions. I’ve written previously about how much my journal means to me, and I highly encourage you to get one, even if its sole purpose is for grocery lists.

step 4: remember, it's not always pretty

In summation, setting a goal is really about taking care of yourself. It’s about being kind and being proud of all the little things you accomplish on a day to day. Setting a goal means learning to do things differently. 

I followed a recipe a few nights ago, and it was the most energetic, delicious and satisfying way to host friends of ours in our home. I had been itching to cook something festive (this really means I wanted to use pumpkin in something) and making something from scratch feels so lovely sharing with people in your life. I’m inherently not good at following a recipe. Though I want so badly to label myself “a good cook,” I never actually do it! Instead of buying something ready-made, I found a damn recipe with pumpkin, whipped up a scrumptious curry, and bam, I did something new and crossed an item off my Fall Bucket List. It’s the small victories in life that sometimes feel the greatest.

I even followed this up with baking pumpkin “super hero” muffins from Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky’s cookbook, Run Fast, Eat Slow.

find joy in the difficult

 I challenge you, dear reader, to set a goal for yourself. It could be as delicious as making one homemade meal a week, as impactful as shunning single-use plastic, or as adventurous as signing up for your first ultra marathon. 

In January, I intend to toe the line at Bandera 100k. There. I said my goal out loud. That counts for my daily dose of getting closer to my goal; putting it out there.

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