It helps to have goals…everyone knows that. I love having a full race schedule, because it give me something (or several something’s) to look forward to. But what happens if you don’t have that? What happens when there’s no “up next”?
I know a lot of people who are just starting to change their lives around, to make some real inroads with diet and exercise plans. They are the most vulnerable to not having an “up next”. I also know a lot of people who train like mad for one event, be it a 5K or half marathon; but when the race is over, they regress back to their old couch-dwelling ways. Perhaps not intentionally, but it’s still not good.
Ultimately, the goal should be a milestone. That is, it should be one small dot on the roadmap to your long-term improved health and wellness. If you train like mad for one event, drop a lot of weight, get in really good shape, and then go back to eating burgers every day and gain all the weight back after the event, you’ve just defeated yourself…there was really no point in training in the first place. Yeah, you can say you did a 5K or a half marathon, or even an Ironman…once; but wouldn’t it be great if you could say, I’m going do another one next month! as well?
The same principle applies to diet…that is, changing your diet, not going on a diet. Any “diet” that has a name is bad for you. What is required is a lifestyle change. You can’t make radical changes, drop 100lbs and then say that you’re done because you reached your goal. Again, it’s a dot on the roadmap…the journey’s what’s the most important, not the destination (it has its value, but that’s only part of it).
Our lives are all drawn out on a map; it doesn’t matter what school of thought you follow, your religious choice, where you’re from, or what you look like. Everyone has the potential to change the path their on…the roadmap of our lives. Being healthy and fit is one piece of that map; the map cannot be complete without it. It’s like not having a legend, or a compass rose…if you don’t know what the symbols are for, or which way is north, you’ll never get where you’re going. But if you have the map plotted out, and you have the legend, and you know which way is north, you can get where you’re going with reasonable certainty in your path.
So…what happens after the race is run/ridden/swum? That’s up to you, ultimately. My recommendation would be to keep doing what you’re doing…you got started on this road for a reason, stick with it! And don’t do it for some lofty, impossible-to-reach goal…do it for yourself, because you want to prove you can do something, or because you want to make your life better, or because you want to see your kids graduate from high school…whatever it is, make it for you. The finish line of the event is not the end, it’s just a gateway to the next adventure.
Question for you: have you ever been tempted to focus on the race, and not the “up next”?