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Elusive Goals

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Today is the Boston Marathon. Always a bit of a sad day for me. Back in the 80s, when I lived in NY, I ran 3 NYC marathons. My goal was to have a qualifying time for Boston.

It never happened. The harder I trained, the slower I got. Back then, i was not as knowledgeable about slow and fast twitch fiber types, and I failed to realize that although I was the personification of an endurance athlete {I used to teach a high impact aerobic class after running the marathon!} I would never be fast, at any sport.

So I stopped running marathons, and I stopped distance running. {Although I still run a few miles a day}

I have had offline conversations with members of this forum who have had the same thing happen with their skiing. Some even stopped skiing for a few years!

Today I had the realization that perhaps I err on the side of conservative realis for my skiing goals, for fear of disapointing myself. Some people are just that way: If they can't be excellent, don't do it at all!

Can anyone relate to this. Do instructors ever see students who have unrealstic goals for their skiing? Sometimes, these people are setting themselves up for burnout.

post #2 of 19
Hey, I've never been excellent at anything, so I don't worry about it!
post #3 of 19
your question sort of implies that there is an upper limit to one's improvement in skiing (or any sport). i think few of us will ever even approach our theoretical limits because we just don't have the time to practice enough, or the knowledge to train correctly. i think we can always improve, albeit more slowly as we age.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 15, 2002 01:15 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Adema ]</font>
post #4 of 19

I am glad I am too old to worry about "How good can I get. I do know the better I get the better it gets! And I'm havin' fun.

MilesB and I have much in common.

post #5 of 19
Of course we see skiers with unrealistic goals all the time! And many of them are pros!

With the recreational skier, most of the time it's a mis-guided idea, or misunderstood concept, relative to time, or process. Sometimes it's purely a case of the mind being willing but the body is weak.

With pros, it's often expecting abilities to develop at a faster rate than is realistic, just because they wear a uniform. Or again, sometimes age plays vicious tricks on us. We feel great, but the body is incapable of performing at the level we expect (read frustrated WC racer wannabe).

But this should never stop a person from aspiring to achieve greater goals. For is it the journey or the arrival? Surely we'd like to get to that end, but is it where we really want to be?

post #6 of 19

As much of a hyper-competitive guy I am, I've realized that I'm never going to make it to the top or anywhere close.

But you know what? Who the hell cares?

One thing I've learned in all the time I've spent here is that fun is first and foremost.

Sure, I keep score. But when I get waxed I'm just like, "Ah, whatever, I'm having a blast, that's all that matters (well, and looking good too )". I may never be the best guy on the hill, but I'll sure as hell be happy, no matter where the chips fall.

When I was in triathlons, I got all caught up with being "great". I trained with all the top dogs and constantly compared myself to them. I never ran a sub 2:50 to qualify for Boston, but I think I could have. And yes, not winning triathlons was a sore spot, for a long time.

But, thousands in therapy later, I deal with it!

I'll offer this. Yesterday at the gym, here was a young man who lost his foot in an automobile accident. I felt so sorry for him. But, he allowed me to put a few things into focus. Like here I am, worrying about perfect turns. Meanwhile, this guy might never ski again. This guy will go thru the rest of his life with one foot. I mean, how friggin selfish am I?

So don't worry about your skiing or anything else like that. You have your health, you're a wonderful person and you have a lot going on.

So cheers to that!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 15, 2002 03:01 PM: Message edited 1 time, by SCSA ]</font>
post #7 of 19

Ah, "good enough". A phrase I have officially become very comfortable with. In this industry of ours, it is rare to have people sit back, relax, and say, "you know what? I'm a damn good skier". We are too busy being critical of others and self critical as well, to enjoy it for what it is. Skiing.

I was one of those that took a considerable time away from not only teaching, but the sport. From 100 days I dropped to about 7 per year (of course, geography was a problem). About 4 years ago I was at the PSIA spring fling, and had a wonderful DCL named Bruce Mark lead the clinic. I was on shaped skis for the first time, and Bruce was complimentary, enthusiastic, and a great guy. I fell back in love with skiing in those two days.

From that experience, my perception of my skiing and skiing in general grew. My skiing changed immensely, because I lost that fear of "looking good." I really didn't give a damn what anyone else thought about my skiing because I KNEW I was a good skier. From there, the only way to go is up. I now take people's criticism with a pound of salt, and limit who I listen to. I do, however, continue to listen to myself, and I like what I hear.

Remember, good enough is GOOD ENOUGH!
post #8 of 19
Hey, LM: The only terminal goal is the one where they throw dirt on your coffin.
post #9 of 19
Nice wisdom, scsa. Thanks.
post #10 of 19
Two comments:
1. When I was a kid, I used to ski with this guy who would swoosh down at me and say, "How did I look?" I'd always answer, "Good! But how did you feel?"
2. A couple of years ago, I played golf with a guy in his 80's. He summed it all up pretty well: "I figure the grass looks a lot better from this side than it does from the other one!"
post #11 of 19
It is all about the fun, folks. The more I ski, the more fun I have. The better I get at the sport, the more fun I have. Keep it simple...
post #12 of 19
I thought about the Boston Marathon all day yesterday. I ran it in 1984 and when training for it I didn't think I had a chance to qualify. Then I realized that my 10K times (mile pace) were fast enough if I could just extend that pace for longer distances. It worked. Sometimes the goal can be overwhelming unless it is broken down into smaller parts. The problem I have with my skiing is that I don't get a lot of days to ski (30+) and I am usually with friends and having so much fun that I don't want to practice so I can't expect too much in the way of improvement.
post #13 of 19
"Roles and goals." That's what an old boss of mine once said. We have roles in life that we play and we set goals accordingly. Your role pretty much changes slowly if at all. You grow. But, goals, they change.

Like LM I was into running heavily until the Marine Corp Marathon four years ago. I also did a number of triathlons with the ultimate goal of doing an Ironman.

But, 25,000 miles over a 20-yr period, and being 6'3" and 225lbs my knees just gave out. (It has greatly affected my skiing too). Now my goal is to watch the Ironman every October and to ride my bike a certain number of miles a year, and to ski so many days a year.

My role, has it changed? Not much. I still define myself as a skier and athlete, even if I can't run at all any more or ski as hard as I used to.

So, as we get older keep the difference between roles and goals in mind.

LM, I live along the marathon route, at the top of Heartbreak Hill, just short of BC at about mile 20.8. I still wait out there until 5:00 to see the real heroes, the ones who probably didn't train enough but who's heart and soul are being laid out for all to see.

In the back of Runners World there used to be a page of stories called something like "For the turtles". It had the greatest tag line (and I am paraphrasing because I haven't seen it in years):

"The miracle isn't that I finished. It was that I had the courage to start."


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 16, 2002 11:55 AM: Message edited 1 time, by WVSkier ]</font>
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Great comments, everyone. Thought provoking enough to silence me, temporarily, and that's something!

We all know that skiing is supposed to be fun, but in any sport, I think the element of competition, whether with yourself or others, gets in the way of that fun.

Its not just in sport. I went to High School of Music and Art in NYC. {its now La Guardia, of FAME, fame} I was in the music program, as a violinist. All throughout elementary, and junior high school, I had always been concert mistress.

But at M&A, people were serious professionally oriented musicians. I was just there because I enjoyed it. But suddenly, I was no longerconcert mistress, then I had to play 2nd violin, thenI was not in the schools "best" orchestra. When I graduated, i never picked up the instrument again!

We all have our potentials, but sometimes its harder to admit to our limits. In terms of marathon training, I did all the right stuff. Speed intervals, 10ks, training classes, you name it!

But here's the thing. At high speeds, I get something called exercise anaphalaxis. Ended up in the hospital emmergency room a few times. Also, if anyone has read the research done on horses, you can take a high speed athlete and increase their endurance, but a slow twich fiber athlete will not have a highly impressive speed improvment. Why could I not have been happy with a 3:45 marathon?

Hopefully, I will never get to the point that I obsess this way about skiing, so much that if it can't be perfect, I won't want it at all.'Man I am one sick puppy!
post #15 of 19
Lisamarie, in January after making a few runs with Bob Barnes and Rusty Guy I said goodbye to them and went for a class photograph. I can't hold a candle to their skiing but Bob, in his interminable kindness and wisdom said:" Non of us has to be ashamed of our skiing".

That was one of the nicest compliments I ever received [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #16 of 19

From our few runs together, I will say without reservation-you still turn em better than most. Yes, you may not turn em as well as in days gone by, but you are definitely an artist who paints beautiful pictures on our wonderful snow covered canvas.

Lisamarie provokes some interesting introspection.

Since I will sign out for the season tomorrow, tonight brings time look back on lessons that range from what I viewed as failures ("I'm only doing this lesson to prove to my boyfriend I'll never be a skier"-she was right, they will be in Disneyworld next winter) to taking somebody down their first double black and seeing that milewide smile of happiness. The MA sessions with Bob were supurb, both in personal growth and watching newer instructors see the light and becoming better pros. Personally there was good progress coming back from last seasons knee injury. Maybe in the next few seasons with Bob's guidance I can pass Trainer's Accred. All in all, despite less than great snow, it was a wonderful season.

Yes, there are unrealistic expectations, both from the instructors and guests. But hopefully we all will remember we have the greatest office in the world. Some of us are privledged to live there full time and some are just visitors. And it still just a wonderful sport, whether you're an amatuer or pro. Turn em right, turn em left, repeat as needed, stop at the bottom and do it again. And smile every second you're doing it!!!
post #17 of 19

Would it help if I said, "You're a sexy bitch"!

3:45? You're awesome! Hey folks, breaking 4 hours ain't easy in a marathon.

You go girl!

[ April 16, 2002, 08:39 PM: Message edited by: SCSA ]
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks SCSA! But I was 30 years old at the time, which BTW corresponds to a woman's peak in her athletic abilities. Many of the most famous female marathoners, Greta Waitz and others, were in their 30s when they were on their winning streak. That's why I always laugh when I hear someone say, oh wow, its so hard to try to learn to ski in your 30s! Short of starting as a kid or in your teens, its the second best time to learn.

But I digress!

I think this is an issue that anyone who teaches anything needs to deal with. For me, one of the many values this forum has, aside from the awesome info about skiing, is that I can talk to instructors in other fields to get a different perspective.

If someone taking my class wants to end up looking like Pamela Anderson, they better have chosen their parents carefully! "Designer genes" is half the battle, and for some, this won't happen no matter how hard I work them. Its a set up for disapointment.

It seems that while some students may set their goals too high, others, for fear of disapointing themselves, set their goals too low.

How do you work with this sort of person?
post #19 of 19
"Competition makes losers of all but one."

Whoever said this was certainly results oriented. How about the process? What can we learn from it?

Many skiers come to the sport as adults. What should they expect? Often they don't know. They want us to help them be reasonable, and they want us to help them grow their talents into abilities. They also want to know their limits so they can set attainable goals.

What should we expect from ourselves? We age, our speed slows, our quickness diminishes, our perception fades, our endurance falters. There can be joy and achievement in qualifying for Boston. There can also be joy and achievement in running a desert trail for an hour when you're no longer young. There can be joy and achievement in being the fastest gal through the gates. There can also be joy and achievement in linking smooth carved arcs on corduroy when you only ski a few days a season.

What's most important: that we be "best" or "fastest", or that we do the best with what we've got and encourage others to do the same?

What's most important in an instructor: being the best skier, or a good teacher? Ask the students who vote with their dollars.

Like everyone else, you have a special combination of gifts, unique to you. You don't have to develop all of them to be a "winner" in everything you do. Just don't waste them. Remember the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days"? If not, have a listen, lace up your running shoes, and jog over to your folks' house to find your violin. Being part of the band can be just as rewarding as playing first chair. It's all about being part of the music. It's about a race well run.

Do you believe in serendipity? A friend just e-mailed this poem. Hope you like it:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of close friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
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