Micro and macro goals. Life could just happen or, I could nudge it in the direction I want to go by having a goal. Unless of course, I change my mind about what I want in life. I’ve never thought about life in a long-range goal way. Get married in my 20s, get a corporate job, leave that and sail the seven seas by 30, settle down by 40 etc. etc. Nope, didn’t happen like that. I could ask what I’m missing by living ‘journey as destination’ style but, when I set a goal it’s because I want to. I’m much less Tony Robins ‘direct your future’ and much more Dr Suess, “Sometimes you will never know the value in a moment until it becomes a memory.” I was pondering this, ‘should I have more goals?’ idea and getting quite turned in knots. So, I put my shoes on and went for a walk.
In that walk, I realised that I do have goals. But I don’t give the time and reflection to flesh them out. They become hazy, maybe, if I do, if I don’t goals. None have been ‘deal breaker’ goals. There is always an alternative. Yet, each goal seems a little more audacious than the last.
These days my goals aren’t around work and career. Really they never have. I’ve never been hard and fast in a career. I could see the potential for myself as a teacher but, I’m a little too loose around the edges. I’m not normally a ‘finisher’. I like projects that are open-ended. But, if I can see the end of a project looming, I start to slow down. To hijack myself. I’m not particularly good at paperwork but, I love researching.
In a time before now I rode dressage and hacking. I love my horses. I still have horses. I don’t imagine a time in my future that won’t have horses in it. It’s just different now. Competition with horses is a world unto itself. It can be a world dominated by looks, comparison, opinions and when you’re lucky, horsemanship. On reflection, the competition was the ‘expected’ route to take, I didn’t know anyone doing anything different. I’m beginning to understand why I was always a bundle of nerves, sick in the stomach, and the horse, in turn, would react to my anxiety, elevated blood pressure and a battle of wills would begin. A few years ago I was fortunate to have a pony that I needed to explore other avenues with. He helped to show me that there is another more mutually inclusive, some might say, esoteric way. The competitive environment fed my imposter for many years. There is still much of that Imposter and Inner Critic that hangs over me.
Then there is trail running. I don’t really like running. There I’ve said it out loud. Maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed the transition to trail running and in turn, the potential in endurance sports. I can hike my butt off going uphill and let inertia take me downhill. I like that it’s not all on roads. I feel safer in the bush. Some events are in the most beautiful places. I must like the running at some level. Trail running encourages me to set goals. I enter an event, that right now is beyond me, and I begin working towards finishing that day months away. The podium is not my aim. Finishing is. Finishing happy.
First of December is the beginning of the next six-month block of preparation for Ultra-Trail Australia. Yes, six months. DHB and I have found the Find Your Feet Planners from Hanny Alston work for us. I’m a stay at home mum these days, having a planner with walks, runs and rests helps provide me with a little ‘shape’ to my weeks and months. We can plan ahead. More than one lot of cattle work has been postponed or delayed so that DHB could fit a long run in. The information that Hanny makes available is exhaustive and invaluable. There is capacity for coaching but, I can’t wrap my head around it, yet. That said, I do check in with a Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist. More recently, I’ve joined another online community of women for additional support and guidance. But most of all, I try to listen to my body. I guess for one person to have accountability to a coach is what they want and need. To me, it’s another layer of guilt and expectation, that I just don’t want to face. With the Planners, I can ‘choose my own adventure’.
Another reason we like the Find Your Feet planners is the underlying emphasis on play, exploration and longevity. If we can’t have fun doing this and do it for years to come, why do it at all? Haivng children has reminded me how stale and boring we grown ups get. Fun and play become compartmentalised away from everyday life. Surely, that’s not ideal? One key component to the FYF planners is the ‘Missions’. Every three weeks, there is a long outing, to encourage you to explore and ‘play wilder’.
In 2017, we took that message to heart and every three-week cycle, we would load Cranky for a three or, four or five-night long weekend. Most of these we went to the Blue Mountains where we could train on the Ultra-Trail Australia course and where I could hook up with ladies to explore with. The social inclusion within the trail running community has been fabulous. Give or take my own mind games with myself, of course. We have had the opportunity to take the boys bushwalking and let DSX lead the explorations. Enjoying the great outdoors isn’t for grown ups alone. Including the boys in our adventures is so important to us.
The last month has been quite mixed up with International travel, gastro, jetlag, another family sadness to contend with. But it’s not all bad. Not for me and not for DHB. DHB now has less than 10 weeks until Tarawera Ultra Marathon in New Zealand. The enforced rest of the gastro means that DHB can go into the next training phase with rest in his legs. I’m not sure that he agrees with that interpretation of the situation!
Some distance goals seem to be a natural progression. For example, 5km begat 10km begat 21km begat 42km begat 50km begat 100km or multi-stage (Nah, jokes, that’s not on my radar. Not this year anyway) Or maybe its just the confidence to trot out on a trail we don’t know or, enter an event miles away. I’d like to think that with consistent moving forward all of those things are within my grasp. My motivation to get out isn’t to go fast. It’s to get to amazing places, do big, fun sh*t and for my children to see that Mummy’s do this stuff too. That this Mummy does. And other Mummy’s. And Daddy’s. And Aunties and Uncles. And that our goals can be all sizes.
Plus, pure and simple, I need the time out. Right now, that’s what having a trail running goal offers me.