RSS Feed

Running towards a SMART goal

November 20, 2013 by Ian Perry   

It’s almost that time of year when everyone starts thinking about their New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for the coming year. Before thinking about goals for 2014 though, I wanted to write about one of my goals that I set for myself at the start of 2013.

At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to get back into running. I say get back into running because I had run track in high school and cross country in middle school. However, I stopped running after my sophomore year of high school, and hadn’t really done any form of running since. So, I set a goal for myself that I would get back into running in 2013. Conveniently, during the time I was setting this goal, I was helping out at Shelby.tv, where the founders, Reece and Dan, were stressing the importance of setting SMART goals, not only for the company, but for everyone on the team. SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Clearly, my goal was not very SMART. It wasn’t very measurable or specific. How far was I going to run? Was I going to run a certain number of times a week? In other words, how could I set myself up to successfully achieve my goal? Thinking about this a little more, I ultimately decided on a very specific goal. What started out as “start running again in 2013″ turned into “run a marathon before the end of 2013.” Unlike the original goal, the new goal was very specific, definitely measurable, and definitely timely. Now, as I said, I ran track in high school. More specifically, I did sprints. So, the farthest I had ever run at once was probably no more than five or six miles. So, setting a goal for myself of running 26.2 miles at one time may seem like it didn’t qualify as attainable or very realistic. However, I felt strongly about setting a goal that wouldn’t be too easy. I wanted to challenge myself and really get back into running. I knew that training for 26.2 would help me do so, so I decided to go for it.

The first thing I did was head to the Niketown in New York City and invest in a pair of running shoes and a watch which would help me track my running. Next, I did what I knew would keep me motivated with my running: I registered for a race. I set my sights on the Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon in Ithaca during the month of April. It seemed like a great first step, and I had about three months to get ready. Then, I started running. I did the majority of my training in Ithaca, running all over Cornell’s campus. Training during the winter months in Ithaca was definitely not easy, but I was able to stay motivated, and ventured out into the snow and cold week after week to make sure I’d meet my goal.

In the beginning of April, I accepted an internship offer to spend the summer at Nike working on the Nike+ Running team. I would get the chance to work on the very products which I had been using to work towards achieving my goal. Excited by the opportunity, I became even more inspired to run. I successfully completed the Skunk Cabbage half in mid-April. 13.1 miles was now the furthest I’d ever run. I was so caught up on reaching this first milestone, that I stopped running. End of semester excitement, and schoolwork contributed to this stoppage, but it was no excuse. I didn’t run at all in May, and I definitely wasn’t on track to meet my goal anymore. Not to mention, I still hadn’t chosen a marathon to register for. I kept telling myself I was just too busy, and that I’d return to training once I started my internship. Being too busy is not a good excuse, and I’ve come to realize that it should never keep me from doing things I love, like running. I was right, however, that I would return to running once I got to Oregon for the summer.

Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon

One of the coolest things about working on the Nike+ Running app, a product which I use, was being able to go for a run with the latest build and test out the newest features. The culture at Nike made me really want to make sure I was running regularly, but the hectic-ness of being an intern also sometimes made it difficult to find the time. I’ll go into more detail about my experience as an intern at Nike in a later post, but one of the main takeaways for me, with regard to running, was that I wanted to be more than just a runner. I wanted to be a part of the community of runners that exists all over the world. This really helped inspire me to get back to running. I ran when I could over the summer, but also really loved what I was working on, so it was often difficult to choose between the two. However, once I got back to school in August, I made sure I was running as much as possible. I finally chose a marathon and registered for it. I had my sights set on the Philadelphia Marathon on November 17. I grew up about 30 min outside of Philadelphia in New Jersey, and my Mom now lives in Pennsylvania about 20 min outside of the city. So, I knew it would be easy to arrange travel plans, and I knew that in a little less than three months, I’d be running my first marathon.

Training did not go exactly as expected, as I got injured in the beginning of October, but I was determined to do my best to stay on course. I kept on path to meet my goal, and this past Sunday, I ran and finished the Philadelphia Marathon. It was a really great experience, and completely worth every second of effort I’ve put into running over the past 11 months. It’s really amazing how many complete strangers cheered me on, and helped keep me going throughout the race. Some of the highlights for me were high-fiving the Mayor of Philadelphia at the starting line, and then crossing the finish line 26.2 miles later.

Philadelphia Marathon 2013

Not only was I able to achieve my SMART goal of running a marathon in 2013, but in the process, I also achieved my goal of “getting back into running.” So, what’s next? I definitely plan on running more marathons in the future. I not only want to improve my time, but explore other cities around the world by running 26.2 miles through their streets. I also have my sights set on my first triathlon sometime in the near future, although I have a long road of training ahead of me for that. Something makes me think it’ll be worth it though.

Below are some pictures I took while running on campus.

McGraw Tower

Beebee Lake


2 Comments »

  1. Ved says:

    Nice! One of my friends showed this to me, really enjoyed reading and could also relate to it. I have a similar story – did cross country and swimming in high school. Started running when I got to grad school at Cornell a couple of years ago. Tried keeping it fairly consistent, but really decided to train seriously this year. Did Skunk Cabbage in April and the Catharine Valley Half in August but don’t think I will do a full Marathon this year. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Mona says:

    Running is the sense of my life for about 5 years. I completely agree with you about smart goals. It’s the most important thing…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>