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March 9, 2005

Testing our way to a goal

Often along the way to our goals we have to test ourselves to be able to tell what we are capable of and to reassure ourselves that we are really on the right track. In preparation for the Lake Johanna 4-mile race on Saturday morning, I wanted to see if I could really run 7:30 miles for four miles. Thatís 30 minutes total. The last two times Iíve been running, Iíve been doing just over 8-minute miles for 5.5 miles. The other day I said I predict that on Saturday Iíll run the four miles in 30 minutes. So today at lunch I tested myself.
I ran the same 5.5 mile loop that I have been running except this time I timed myself at the two-mile mark and the 4 mile mark. I ran harder than normal and was really working hard. I think I hit the maximum I was capable of at that moment. My lungs couldnít seem to take in enough air and I was breathing as hard and steady as I could. Somehow the oxygen was getting to my legs and brain because I kept going.
At the two-mile mark, I was at exactly 15 minutes. Then I started on the long upward climb toward the 4-mile mark and I passed it at 31 minutes! That was one minute short of my goal, but I consider it achieved, because at the beginning of the course I had to wait for two stoplights to get out of downtown. So actually I must have had a faster pace for the beginning two miles after I got past those. Then the second two miles are all uphill, so I did well to hang on to that pace. So, on a more level course that doesnít have stoplights, I know Iíll be able to run it in 30 minutes. I proved that I could do it.
When we talk about motivation, for anything, even my job, I sometimes have to test myself to make sure I am on the right track and progressing. Even if itís just for reassurance that I could do it. When I was doing software training, I almost always went through all of my training material from beginning to end to make sure I didnít have any surprises and to make sure I was prepared. Itís a horrible feeling to be teaching and not have an example work the way itís supposed to work. Iíve had it happen and itís no fun. Yes, we can call this preparation, but itís also testing ourselves to make sure we can handle it and make sure we are on the right track. While practicing the event, Iíve often discovered things I needed to fix before the actual event. I then put in the time to prepare and I knew what to expect. In the case of running on Saturday, up until today I was guessing Iíd do better during a race than when running by myself, but I had not run that fast yet on my own. It was an educated guess. But now, unless other problems pop up like a physical injury or something, I know I can do it and have confidence. Saturday Iíll run hard and make my goal of 30 minutes for the 4 miles.
This is one method Iíve used to ace my vocabulary quizes in the past. I would make up mock-quizzes and time myself to fill in the translations from Korean to English and from English to Korean. I would get the feel for doing it quickly and I would know I was ready. I tested myself and had confidence. This is very motivating. And when Iím not ready, I know what I need to work on, so focusing on being ready can also be motivating.
Also today I didnít have any motivation problems getting started running like on previous runs because I knew I was testing myself and was focused on doing that. Was it hard? Yes, one of the hardest things I've done, but I didn't lose motivation for it.

Posted by carl1236 at March 9, 2005 10:48 PM | motivation