The NYC Running Show

JackRabbit Sports hosted a running show this past weekend. I saw it on someone's blog a few months ago; it boasted an entire afternoon of sessions about how to start running, doing your first half marathon, how to avoid injuries and... Matt Long.

I read his book, The Long Run, earlier this spring for the Soul Semester. You remember- the guy who was crushed by a 40,000 lb bus and then ran the NYC marathon less than 3 years later? Here's what he looks like today:

Matt Long, giving the keynote.
Before he took the stage, they showed a 10-minute video about the accident, his recovery, and footage of him running the marathon (and a recent triathlon). There wasn't a dry eye in the place. Since I'd read the book, it meant even more to know the struggles he's gone through to get to this point, cracking jokes about dating in front of a roomful of people at a running conference. I mean, how do you come back from so far gone?

"You have to have a goal," he said. "When you wake up in the morning, you have to make a plan, a commitment to that plan, and then you have to sacrifice to get it done."

I mean, holy YES.

Matt described the depression he went through during physical therapy, 9 months after the accident. He wondered why he had lived at all and finally one day he sat down and realized what he was missing was goals. He'd previously been a runner and had set goals in terms of races... but he wasn't just missing the athletic goals. Matt owns three bars in New York too and he'd had business goals as well. He was a fireman and trained every day, knowing that his training could mean the difference between life and death in a fire.

The more he spoke about goals, the more I started getting it. "If you don't have goals, you have no forward progress," he said. "It's not going to be easy, so when it gets tough, you gotta find something else to focus on."

Goals! Forward motion, creating, direction, succeeding... I mean, this is it, isn't it? This is what life is about. If you're waking up every day merely to exist, to feed yourself three meals and get yourself tucked in at night, then you are MISSING OUT!

I started to classify the people in my life into two categories: those who have goals (or share them publicly) and those who don't. And I started realizing that it's harder to connect with people whose goals are hidden. If I know what you're striving for, I know you. I see the fire in your eyes and I can understand what you're fighting hard for. Because I'm fighting hard too.

The funny thing is, goals represent the kind of life you value, the kind of life you want to leave. The depth of your person. What do you want to achieve? What do you wake up every morning thinking about and what are you doing to get it done?

When it comes to running, Matt cited a frequent excuse for why people skip their runs. "You say it's too cold out to run. Well, it's always going to be cold out. The only way to warm up is to get out there, get moving. You'll warm up."

You'll warm up! So true, metaphorically and physically.

I find myself somewhat at a loss when it comes to my career goals. I'm still pretty confused about where I'm headed, whether technology is something that is a lifelong pursuit or a phase that brings me somewhere else. And then I realized that maybe I should be thinking about it another way. Instead of feeling the absence of career goals, maybe the goal is figuring out what my career will be. See how I turned that around?

So what are your goals? And if you're not working towards them, what baby step can you take towards accomplishing them? Who in your life is the negative voice, the person whose poison you need to steer clear of? Cause you need to drop them like a bad habit.

I watched this man stand in front of us, someone who basically came back from the dead. And I thought, "there is nothing we can't do." And I swear, I really believe it.

More photos of the running show here.


lindsay said...

jen, thanks for posting this- I haven't read that book but I think I will go get it- I have been thinking a lot about goals recently. Starting this new job, I find myself feeling lost and my goals significantly less defined than they used to be in my previous lab... of course, part of this is amnesia and not being able to remember how lost I felt when I started in the last lab...

Jen said...

I hear ya, Linds. Goals are tricky, especially when the people who are supposed to be defining them aren't really doing it... maybe you can set your own, more structured mini-goals? :)

And yeah, forgetting how being a newbie was is something that happens to me too. Hang in there!

xo J

audrey said...

Also want to say thanks for posting this, it's something I've been pondering recently. I acheived two (quite major) life goals last year, and have enjoyed the past six months just living for the moment with them.

Now I feel the need to stretch myself again and I'm not sure in what direction. Time to have a hard think about this and find something to focus on. Mini goals might be a good idea!