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In order to achieve goals you first have to set goals

“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”

Seneca

I am a firm believer that to achieve your goals you first have to set them. Some of my proudest moments have been the achievement of goals, although I’ve quickly discovered that arriving at one goal is often the starting point to another.

When I was a child my father completed a half marathon. In June 2012 I decided to set a goal to achieve a long held dream of following in his footsteps and signed up for the Great South Run. I didn’t know it at the time, but training for that race became the catalyst for a goal to complete 2013 ‘self-powered’ miles in the year 2013 which also included my completing my first full 26.2 mile marathon.

Completing Edinburgh Marathon 2013

Completing the Edinburgh Marathon in 2013

So what goals are next in this exciting journey called life?

1. London Calling – Complete the 2014 Virgin London Marathon

Living in the UK there is one marathon that I think every runner dreams of completing. Throughout my life I have watched in awe the BBC coverage of the annual marathon through the streets of London and perhaps deep down I’ve always wanted to run in it.

Since I started running in 2012 I’ve had ‘London Calling’ by The Clash as part of my playlist. I guess I was always heading towards this race, even if I wasn’t conscious about the decision.

It can be hard enough just getting a place in the Virgin London Marathon. Many people try the entry ballot for years without success. I was lucky enough to get in on my first try and on Sunday 13 April 2014 I will be lining up for the start of my second full marathon.

I will be running with more than 37,500 elite and amateur runners and hoping to beat my previous marathon time of 4 hours and 3 minutes.

2. 100 Mile Run – Complete my first ultra marathon

My goal to run the Great South Run in 2012 was a catalyst to me running many races throughout 2013 of a variety of distances including 5km (3.1 miles), 10km (6.2 miles), quarter marathon (6.6 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles) and full marathon (26.2 miles).

The Edinburgh marathon was (and still is) the longest run I have ever attempted, but completing it got my wondering how much further I could run.

Well, actually in the hours and days after completing Edinburgh I was wondering if and when my legs would start functioning normally again, but once the pain subsided I was looking for my next challenge.

Reading books can be dangerous!

Since I became a runner (something I believe happens as soon as you start your first training run) I’ve also been reading books about running. Sometimes I have to question if this was a wise move, because reading ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall I discovered that there are people in this world who would consider a 26.2 mile marathon a short distance.

I’d never heard of ultra running before I read this book, but subsequently other books such as ‘Eat and Run’ by Scott Jurek, ‘Finding Ultra’ by Rich Roll and ‘Ultra Marathon Man’ by Dean Karnazes, got me increasingly intrigued to about my own capacity to run beyond the marathon.

In November 2013 I decided I should find out and signed up for 100 Mile Run.

This 100+ mile ultra marathon is spread over 4 days, running on trails with a total ascent comparable to climbing all 3 of the UK’s biggest mountains and the final day of the challenge is approximately 33 miles!

Perhaps I should stop reading.

Trail Running on the Cotswold Way

A training run on the Cotswold Way

3. Cheltenham Triathlon – Complete my first triathlon

No, seriously I might have to stop reading.

I just mentioned ‘Finding Ultra’ in my goal to run an ultra marathon. Thing is, Rich Roll doesn’t just run. His autobiographical book is the story of a 40 year old man who goes from being an overweight junk food addict that struggles to climb the stairs to becoming a plant powered triathlete who is competing in Ultraman – a 320-mile race of swimming, biking, and running!

When I met Andrea Wentworth in 2012 her training for Ironman (2.4 mile open water swim, 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile run) was part of the catalyst that started me running. Secretly it also made me wonder if I could ever do a triathlon. Reading ‘Finding Ultra’ made me seriously consider it. Then, my wife gave me another book as a gift.

Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run

I think my wife may be regretting buying me Andy Holgate’s book ‘Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run’. That said, I think she know before buying it what the likely outcome was.

As unrealistic as it feels right now, I have a long term goal to complete an Ironman distance triathlon. It feels like a stupid dream given that I can hardly swim, but goals are about pushing the boundaries of our lives, enriching them and achieving our potential.

I truthfully have no idea if I will ever manage to complete Ironman, but I believe part of setting goals is enjoying the journey, learning and growing along the way.

The Cheltenham Triathlon is my first major step on that journey. I signed up to the race on the weekend and did my first swim of the year. It was slow and hard, but so was running when I started.

“The virtue lies in the struggle, not in the prize.”

Richard Monckton Milnes

4. Practise Yoga

Yoga has intrigued me for a while. The old me didn’t get it, but since I have changed the way I eat and regained my life, my outlook on life has also changed.

According to Wikipedia, Yoga is the “physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace of mind in order to experience one’s true self.”

I find distance running has a meditative effect on me, bringing a state of mental peace and clarity. I decided at the end of 2013 that I should also start practising yoga. My motivation was not just about peace of mind, but also increasing my core strength and flexibility in order to also help my running.

5. Become a No Meat Athlete

I used to be a complete carnivore. Until I started my juicing journey to rediscover my health I ate very little in the way of plant food, preferring to pile my plate up with meat. Lots of meat.

I ate animals at every meal.

Since September 2009 my diet has included more and more plants and over time, less meat and animal products. In 2013 I decided to try a month without meat. From memory I think I ended up eating fish once, but with that small exception I ate nothing but plants for 30 days and I felt fantastic.

Shortly after that month I went to Brazil for work and was almost immediately eating meat. Despite this, my meat consumption became much lower and I was typically only eating meat once or twice a week.

No Meat Athlete Training Roadmaps

I’ve used the No Meat Athlete Roadmaps for my training. Click here to learn more.

I find that when I eat a diet rich in plant based whole foods I feel more alive and my body copes better with my increasing activity levels. I am not saying that being vegetarian or vegan is necessarily right for everyone, but right here, right now, it feels right for me.

I have the utmost respect for ethical vegans and vegetarians, but my motivation for giving up meat is my health. Personally I feel more vibrant when I eat plants.

I’ve not eaten any meat or fish in 2014 and I am excited that after being a keen follower of the No Meat Athlete blog I am now only a few weeks away from my first race as a No Meat Athlete.

“Learn from your past, set detailed, obsession worthy goals for the future, and then achieve them by being focussed with the way you live now.”

Neil Martin, Natural Juice Junkie

Yoga in a No Meat Athlete Shirt

About to start a yoga session in a No Meat Athlete T-shirt

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