This Is Spartan
I'm tired this week, so prepare yourself for another stream of consciousness as I ramble on about goals and physical activity with no real regards for structure of pacing.
On with the show I suppose.
I've come to the conclusion that I need to have goals in order to keep me moving forward, which isn't really all that surprising. Despite my own delusional thinking, I'm still human after all, and humans operate better when they have a goal to aim towards.
But I don't ever seem to get a sense of accomplishment from achieving the goal. Isn't that supposed to be a thing? A warm fuzzy feeling of elation or happiness upon successfully doing the thing that you've been working towards?
I'm a little better at celebrating my victories than I used to be, but no matter what I've done, it's rare for me to sit back afterwards and think to myself:
"Oh nice, you did the thing. Here, have a mental cookie and take a breather. Well done"
For example, I just ran the most recent Spartan Race at the Gold Coast. Nothing fancy, just the Open Super, which is 10km, 25 obstacles and an annoying amount of mud.
Here, have some photos.
The race was my goal. It was the thing that I'd been aiming towards for the last ten weeks or so. The thing that I'd used to motivate myself to eat healthy and exercise and so on.
And I did okay.
I did an obstacle that I've never done before (gymnastic rings), which is pretty big for me, because it means that my single hand grip strength has improved enough to support my entire body weight for long enough to swing to the next thing.
In addition, in the lead up to the race, I managed to shed about two kilograms of body fat without losing any muscle. At least, so says a DEXA body scan anyway.
By any measurement, those are victories. Accomplishments. Not only did I actually do the thing I was aiming at, I improved in measurable and meaningful ways when compared against a past version of myself.
But I'm having a hard time seeing that. Instead, I find that I'm just left with the lingering sense that I could have done better.
If only I'd tried harder.
That sort of attitude permeates my entire life and I think it's the main reason that I don't actually like achieving my goals. Or not achieving my goals. Or having goals at all.
I mean, why try to do a hard thing if you don't feel good at the end?
I'm more likely to feel good during the journey itself. That period of time when I'm aiming at something and making small, meaningful progress in the right direction.
In the lead up to the Spartan race I was doing exactly that. I was getting fitter, going further, doing more repetitions, losing little bits of weight and generally holding myself accountable to eating the right things.
And that felt good.
But now that I'm done, I feel...tired? Directionless?
Maybe this is just a natural part of doing something difficult. A refractory period of sorts. A time when I just need to relax for a moment and give myself a break.
But I'm worried that if I do that I'll never get started again.
Because it feels really good to stop.
Until it doesn't.
And that shift happens remarkably quickly.
If I don't do some sort of intensive exercise, it's only a day or two before I start to feel a bit shit. Mentally that is.
And that can spiral quickly, because once I feel a little bit shit, it's easy to double down on that and feel a lot shit. That lets inertia build up and all of a sudden getting started again feels like an impossible task, because I remember all of the effort that it took to get going in the first place.
So I'm trying to shift my focus from the post-meh feeling to the part where I feel good for working towards something.
I'm going to take a breather, wait until my body stops hurting and then align myself to a new goal so that I can enjoy a new journey.
I'm thinking maybe something like "Be able to run 10km in less than an hour". That sounds reasonable and there is a lake near my house with a path around it that's ~2.5km long, so that's only four laps.
Four isn't a very big number after all. That's just one lap four times. And one is a very small number.
And on that note, it's time to bring this all to a close.
I like writing, as you might be able to tell from the thousands upon thousands of words that exist on this blog.
Writing this post has been cathartic.
I doubt that I've magically fixed all of my mental inadequacies, but I'm not feeling as disappointed in myself as I was at the start, and I'm going to try my hardest to focus on the path forward.
That seems like a much better idea than getting sad about how I didn't meet some insane and undefined expectations that I set for myself.