“Action expresses priorities.” – Gandhi
Have you ever asked yourself what you would rather be doing in life than what you are currently doing? I know I certainly have! Why do we think it’s okay to just live a mundane life…wouldn’t you rather explore, reach goals, and live?! Yeah, I know, “that’s not realistic.” I am going to tell you the truth – IT IS. And why not make it a reality? Why can’t chasing adventure be realistic? Certainly what I see as adventure and living may be very different from you – and that’s okay – what’s important is that you actually do it and live out your dreams! I’m not going to believe that your life goal is to sit at a desk balancing check books all day. So stop. Think hard about your ideal world (i.e. family, job, etc.) and take the steps to make it happen.
This is the 4th and final blog about my running story, my strengths, my flaws, and my goals and ambitions. This blog tells the final story as to why I run; why I do what I do. My commitment to running and my priorities are shaped by my life experiences and by my community. This is what chasing adventure really is for me – putting all the pieces together and taking the risk.
This spring I will embark on very special adventure encompassing everything from this series (the suspense is killing you, I know!). Starting May 1st, I am going to attempt the fastest known time on the Ice Age Trail, spanning ~1200mi through Wisconsin. The current overall record is 22 days; I am attempting 19. Not only is this a personal goal for me as an ultra-distance runner, but it is also a message of complete inspiration. I spend too much time as a runner convincing others, and sometimes even myself, that I am a RUNNER. I am often asked, “you are a runner?! You don’t look like a runner.” Comments like these lead so many runners, men and women alike, to doubt themselves – lose the self-confidence that running is supposed to give us. I want to show people that by completing this adventure, it doesn’t matter what your size, shape, or build is; talent is not defined by the shell of our bodies, but rather perseverance, motivation, and hard work. Anything is possible – body image, other people’s goals for you – none of that matters. We are only our best in life when we are doing what we do best. And I’m going to prove it.
I’ve been asked behind the scenes often, “this is nuts! Why are you doing this?!” Well, besides to prove a point, I’m doing this for the same reason I do every event or race. To excel. Certainly, I love winning races just as much as the next person, or setting records, but in the end, it’s really about the personal achievement. Some people coin that as “I just want to finish.” But for me, I don’t just want to finish, I want to excel beyond. And that means doing a sliver better than the previous day. Just a sliver better. Over time, change happens and chasing adventure gets easier and easier (and really in any aspect of life).
It may just be a personality trait of mine, but the desire to excel by setting crazy goals seems like the only way to achieve something better than ‘just okay.’ I suffer often in races, mentally or physically, or maybe even both given the day. It’s going to happen – your goals will be challenged brutally and quite often. What does it really take to set and then reach the goal? For me, commitment and priorities. When I set a goal, it’s all I think about. My commitment to running has been enormous as many of you know, and some people think that’s a bad habit, but I consider this commitment my way of achieving more than my brain is willing to let me achieve. Set a goal. Now make it bigger. It’s amazing how the bigger goal can be achieved with commitment. Along with that, come priorities…nothing changes if nothing changes. So yes, priorities do have to align with the goal. I can’t be a successful ultra-runner if I didn’t follow the proper training or eat well or drink water, etc. Sometimes priorities have to change or other things have to come to the forefront. Commitment paired with priorities linked to your goal will help – take the risk and chase the adventure down until you have it.
The final pillar – community. I never would have become the runner I am today first, if I wouldn’t have started, and second, if Trae from Performance Running Outfitters wouldn’t have asked me after completing the Lake Country Half Marathon to be on the PRO team. I finished top 3 that day running a 1:26 and never felt better. That conversation started it all for me. I continue to run for PRO on the elite team and although I don’t road race anymore much, I am still heavily involved in the PRO running community. It’s so important to be involved in your sport. Maybe that means on a team, maybe volunteering, or perhaps it means having a group of friends to run with every weekend. Whatever that may be for you, make sure it’s a group. Some people don’t think it’s cool to be part of a running community or store – but honestly, it’s the best thing you can do to network, meet people, and learn the ins and outs of the running world. I have so many connections across the country just from being a part of the great running community. So important. And it will help pave your way to reaching your goals. It did for me.
Commitment to my goals, prioritizing what’s important to me to reach my goals, and having a strong community around me answers all the questions. This adventure starting in May will be a continuation of all the great things I have achieved and plan to achieve in my life. I would rather think back on my life when I’m old as being completely content with everything I was able to do vs regretful. Might as well start now, right? Take the risk, chase the adventure, and reach your goals. Cheers.
Blog author: Annie Weiss, MS RD; ultra-endurance athlete and dietitian living and training in Milwaukee, WI. She is a sponsored athlete/ambassador for LuLuLemon, Swiftwick Socks, AltraRunning, The OrangeMud, and Fluid Nutrition. Follow her training/racing on Twitter & Instagram: ani_weiss and Facebook: Ani Weiss.