“When I was a runner it was something we lived every second of our lives…Of course I am getting better every day, I would have said, what the hell am I training for otherwise? As if there were only one alternative, as if the arrow of improvement necessarily parallels the arrow of time, and in only one direction…
…Or consider the religious aesthete whose piety and serenity and good works increase and multiply as the years go by, into middle age, into old age, onto the deathbed. She’s working on it too, and what keeps her going is the absolute conviction that every day she’s getting better, saving more souls, that she’s getting closer to God.
My point is that this way of living that we once took for granted isn’t necessarily a ‘natural’ process at all. It’s not like water flowing down to the sea, not like aging. It takes effort, determination, conviction. But mostly it takes will. It takes a conscious decision to follow one difficult uphill path, and then the will to stay with it and not waver t o not give up.
I miss the spiritual certainty in the direction of that arrow. That is what this is all about.”
John L. Parker, Jr, “Again to Carthage”
What’s your goal?
It doesn’t have to be to win the Olympics, win a marathon, or even finish a marathon.
It doesn’t have to be to lose 50lbs, or 20lbs, or 5.
It doesn’t have to be a big deadlift or a CrossFit Games ticket or 5% bodyfat.
But it should be something.
A clear goal is more than a wish. It’s a destination around which the rest of your life will organize. Like dominoes aligning themselves, your thoughts; your actions and, yes, your body, will fall into a straight line.
When you decide to ride 100km for ARCH, for example, you start taking your bike out of the garage on weekends.
You start rallying friends to ride together.
You think about hills and you think about saddles and you learn how to check your own air pressure. You go out for short rides in the evening, and you eat your dinner a bit earlier to make time. You drink a little more water so you don’t come home dry. You eat smaller portions so you don’t feel bad on the hills. You fall asleep because you’re tired. Your life falls into lockstep with the goal you set.
When you decide to do the Catalyst Games, you show up at the gym all summer. You don’t let things slide. You think twice before that second beer. You get to bed on time. You eat your protein and skip the cake at 9pm. You do your stretching so that you can exercise again the next day. Your friends stop asking if you’ll go drinking on a Thursday. Your coworkers don’t drop donuts on your desk. Maybe they start bringing a jug of water because they see you doing it…
Distraction is the poison of our age. We eat because we’re bored; we scroll Instagram for an hour because we can’t focus. We caffeinate and carb up to feel happy and then stay up all night because we’re never tired. We respond and react and communicate through emojis, chasing posts and likes and attention, dashing around and never getting anywhere.
Unless we have goals.
Direction is distraction’s antonym.
Direction creates alignment. Alignment enables progress. And progress is what this is all about.