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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Set the Bar Wisely

The downside to goals and aspirations is that they can be binary.

You either ran a 14:00 5k or you didn't.

You either earned All-American honors or you didn't.

You either ran on the top seven or you didn't.

I've written about the problems of the "didn't" side before. But there's also a trap with the alternative: settling.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, I'll simply pose a few questions.

The NCAA Indoor and Cross Country Championships are (hopefully) in March. Would you prefer an athlete who has their sights on a national title or an athlete who just wants to qualify?

The US Olympic Trials are (again, hopefully) in June. Would you prefer an athlete who has their sights on a Gold Medal in Tokyo or an athlete who just wants to be an Olympian?

Another wave of new Student-Athletes will report to college cross country teams this fall. Would you prefer an athlete who wants to help their team win conference or an athlete who just wants to be an NCAA runner?

If goals are built up too much, they become ceilings. Finish lines.

As of right now, my feeling is this: if you're going to set the bar, set it high. Create checkpoints - not finish lines - along the way.

Then, largely forget about outcomes and become absorbed in the process of getting better.

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