SMART Goals: Settle for Good, Get Great or Chase Perfection?

smart goals

I think modern consumerism has gone and shot itself in the foot this time. All our resolutions (or regular ol’ goals) are still fresh and fulfilled, we’re not even a week into January yet, but my local grocery store already has hearty (heart-‘y’! I seize the opportunity to make bad puns when I can šŸ™‚ ) displays of chocolates, Valentines, and balloon hearts to smack us all in the face when we enter the store! Not that I am anti-love, but I guess the candy companies and Hallmark didn’t realize that the diet/weight-loss industry and gym chains are trying to capitalize on the idea of the “fresh start”. I don’t think candy and chocolates go together with the typical resolution to “lose weight”. Careful now junk food industry, don’t make the weight-loss industry mad!

Okay…this was not intended to be a rant, just thought I’d poke some fun before we got into the serious stuff! Resolutions, goals, or just Tuesday’s ‘to-do’ list, how SMART are you about accomplishing them? (Don’t get offended, I know you are all plenty smart…but it’s a clever acronym that you may have heard before, and that I really like!) I learned S.M.A.R.T. in high school once, and it has actually stuck with me, unlike some other useless word play designed to get me to critically think, etc.

smarter goalsI challenge you to use SMART to tackle a goal, small or big and be amazed! I actually prefer this (left) acronym even more as it includes “ethical” and “reasonable”! Never settle for just SMART when you could be SMARTER (or good when you can be great, but I am getting to that.)

My goals for 2015 are this:

  1. Bed by 9-10pm (10 at the latest): 8-9 solid hours of sleep each night.
  2. Keep my diet clean, comprised of whole foods. Low fat, all natural. Eat enough to fuel my running. *No hard alcohol, 1-2 drinks max.Ā (Reinforced from New Years Eve)
  3. Run a 2:43 marathon!Ā Subgoals: keep running 90 mile weeks, stay injury free, and make one of my runs my “long run”.

Basically, I want to keep doing what I have been doing,Ā but better.Ā Eat clean, recover well, and run more! Each of these goals areĀ specificĀ because I know exactly what I want, for example “bed by 10pm”. There’s nothing vague about that. “Get fit” or “eat healthier” are good examples of whatĀ notĀ to do. My second goal concerning diet could be interpreted as vague, but I know what I mean by all natural, and it’s based on how I have documented my eating previously on my blog.

My goals areĀ measurable,Ā I can measure amounts of drinks, I can measure miles, I can “measure” a whole food vs. a packaged food. Are theyĀ achievable? Depends. I can control my sleep, my diet, and how many miles I run a week….but I can’t control all the factors concerning the marathon. I can only do my best to set myself up to succeed. I do think it’sĀ realisticĀ based on my training and previous performance.Measuring_the_Infinite

My goals are alsoĀ realisticĀ in the context of my lifestyle. I have the resources and time to eat well, run, and get to sleep on time. I know there are many people who find it a lot harder, but those people need to weigh their priorities and theirĀ “perceived” resources against what they can actually do. Don’t use lack of time as an excuse, the same goes for having a family (they need you to take care of YOU too!), or not having enough money to be healthy. If it is important to you, you will find a way. By realistic, I mean don’t attempt a marathon if you’ve never ran before. Try a half, or resolve to run 5 days a week no matter what. No climber attempts Everest as their first summit!

perfect-enemy-goodMy goals areĀ timelyĀ or time-bound, exempting the diet goal. Diet is tricky, because unless you are on a “get-slim-quick-2-week-cleanse” (don’t do it!) diet should not have an endpoint. Diet is the foundation of the other goals you set for yourself. It comes naturally in the process of achieving the other goals that are time-bound. My marathon is a time-bound goal because I committed myself to running the LA Marathon in mid-March. So I have 2.5 months remaining to keep logging 90mi weeks and get my longest run up to where it needs to be. As the date draws closer, you had better believe my sleep and diet will be as fine-tuned and on-point as I can get it so that IĀ canĀ run a 2:43 marathon.

My goals areĀ ethicalĀ my diet is vegan, and running a lot doesn’t hurt anyone šŸ™‚ I urge you, if you are considering a dietary change this year, go vegan! It’s the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success! You also withdraw your vote of approval from inhumane factory farming practices and animal cruelty. Instead, you free up valuable resources like water and land for starving children who go without because the animals are using it instead. (Don’t worry, the animals won’t starve….instead the intense and unnatural breeding processes will diminish as consumer demand does! Farmers won’t lose their jobs either, they’ll just farm plant foods instead!)

I’ll be doing a Ā post on Veganuary soon, but if you want to get started now I urge you to check out their supportive website and make a pledge to go Vegan this January!

Anyway, back to ethics! *I’m skipping reasonableĀ I think it’s a tad redundant after discussing realistic and achievable.Ā Don’t hurt anyone or anything, including yourself ā¤ ! This segues into my next point about good vs. great and great vs. perfect.

32fdbd0eac41e2e876006ffb317d355cI think most people by now are pretty aware that “perfect” is an illusion. No one is perfect. For example, it might appear that I always have a healthy diet and I always run well…but of course I don’t! New Year’s Eve is a great example, I drank way too much and consequently ran like crud the next morning. I still ran the miles I was supposed to, but let me tell you…it was not pretty! But the reason we fail or make mistakes is for us to learn whatĀ notĀ to do! I needed a firm reminder as to why I don’t really drink or party, and I got it. As long as you learn and don’t make the mistake again, then don’t beat yourself up over it. An important note, “mistakes” should only be made once…after that, they are not mistakes, it’s just you deciding against what you know is right.

There is no perfect. But there is always better. If you are good, there is always great. Don’t settle for good because it is comfortable. Being good is a comfort zone, it’s where you can hold your head up high but not feel challenged at all. You’ll never grow either. Strive to get better always, that’s where the growth happens. That’s where character is built, self-awareness is gained and boundaries are tested.

I urge you to always keep growing and striving to master your craft, hobby, and passion. Even if you think resolutions are ridiculous, you can always make goals. No one is ever done learning, there’s always room for improvement.

How can you be a better friend, family member, community contributer, runner, skier, writer, painter today more than yesterday? Write it down, tell your friends, or register for the event.

Go get it!


Portland Marathon: (Real) Race Recap

portland marathon 2014 1

Photo Source: Mike Zacchino/The Oregonian, “Japan’s Makoto Ozawa, Portland’s Susan Smith win the 43rd Portland Marathon” Oct. 6, 2014

I honestly don’t remember running past this gigantic shoe! I do know that I was nearing the end though, I have no memories of the course after about mile 23…it’s all a blur.

Portland 2014 time

It was one of those races where things just felt right. I woke up refreshed and ready to go at 5am, at the first ring of the two alarms that I had set. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up alarm! I had laid out everything the night before so there was nothing to worry about, no last minute decisions to be made. No stress. I made sure to be at the bus stop in time to catch the 6am bus downtown. I also chewed down 150 calories worth of dried bananas 1.5 hours before the start.

Once there, I joined the chaos of other runners. Just kidding, there was no chaos! It was highly organized, with informed volunteers directing runners and spectators to the right areas. I joined the porta-potty line first thing. Then I jogged a few blocks, maybe 5 minutes, and started my dynamic stretches various leg swings, hops, skips, until I felt properly warmed up. Then I with 15 minutes to the start I went back to the port-potties, yesā€¦.the lines were chaos and I have a small confession to make, I cut the line. In my defense, no one noticed and the line wasnā€™t moving! I fueled with a Huma gel (Cinnamon Apple) and lined up in the ‘A’ corralā€¦I was nervous and offered up a small prayer: please let me run well. We sang the national anthem, and then, suddenly, it was time to go.

My plan was to hold back in the beginning and for the most part, I did. The first miles came easy. The temperature was already comfortable, and the energy of the crowd allowed me to cruise easily. There were many, many people in front of meā€¦my earliest thoughts were to breathe deep and be patient. I had a long way to go. I had two more Apple Cinnamon Huma gels with me for the road and I started hydrating early, around mile 3 and consumed my first Huma gel in two parts, at mile 8 and then 9. I tried to eat my second gel at mile 18, but I’m pretty sure only half of it actually made it to my stomach. Along the course I also took in frequent sips of Ultima and water.

In the industrial area a.k.a. the “armpit of Portland”, I was lucky enough to catch up to two guys keeping perfect pace. Every mile they hit a 6:33-6:35 split on the dot so I cruised with them until we headed up the only major hill of the course at mile 16 to St. John’s Bridge. Just before, at mile 15 I passed the first women to becoming the leading female from then on. As part of my lead, I was accompanied by a cyclist whose job it was to report on my whereabouts. That was fine by me, because around mile 21 I found myself alone on the course (except for the awesome spectators). My favorite part of the course is always when I crest the St. John’s Bridge. I live for that moment and it makes the first 16 miles and the hill worthwhile. Unfortunately (and this has been the case for three years now) I never remember anything about the course after I leave the bridge. All I recall is pain, particularly when going down a long, steep downhill stretch at mile 23, and worry. One year I witnessed several runners in front of me being stopped by a train whose tracks crossed the course. I was lucky enough to get there just as the barriers to the tracks were raised and was able to keep running, but I can’t imagine the agony of having to stop and then start again. Apparently this year my worry was for nothing because the race directors coordinated with the trains to have no conflicts.

After I came off the downhill stretch, my strides were not the same for the last 3 miles. I also started talking to myself.

portland marathon 2014 2

Photo credit same as above

My quads were beat up, I was tired. But I had run through “the wall” which had defeated me at the Newport Marathon in May. And after crossing the Steel Bridge (agony) and getting over the fear of being stopped by a train, I just kept reminding myself to keep going. It wasn’t much farther, I had no clue what my pace was by then…it was too much effort to look at my watch. The last few miles I just kept telling myself to go, go go– the crowd of spectators started to get larger and I could smell the finish line (it smelled like sweat and sweet relief!) getting nearer.Ā FinallyĀ I rounded a corner and was thrown into the melee of half marathon finishers. One more turn, one more turn and then for the last 100m to the finish, I watched the clock tick mercilessly forward until I was done.

Immediately,Ā I was handed the overall female winner trophy and pulled aside for a picture. Thankfully, I didn’t feel the need to collapse. I felt relief and a second later, bliss. I was done! Ā I had finished and my time was pretty good! Thank goodness!Ā I did a little interview, and then made my way to the water, guzzled several cups like a camel and then snagged a whole bag of grapes before a volunteer had a chance to cut them up. When I asked her if I could have the whole thing, she looked at me and asked, “Are you going to eat them all?” I responded, “YES!” I should have told her that I just won, maybe then she wouldn’t have been so skeptical! Regardless, I ate all the grapes and took some apples to go..finish line food isn’t exactly vegan-friendly! My glucose-deprived brain just wanted sugar!

Many people offered me congratulations, including the two guys who had paced those perfect splits from mile 10-16, (I ultimately passed them along the way, but they both finished sub-3!) we chatted for a bit and then I went to find my coach. I’m pretty sure he was proud when I told him the good news šŸ™‚ And then he gave me a ride home, I hadn’t brought any more bus money…and I definitely didn’t feel like jogging!

I spent an hour stretching, and then foam rolling all while eating a ton of fruit….followed shortly by lunch. But soon after that I unfortunately developed a massive migraine that made me feel really sick. I realized I might be really dehydrated, so I chugged some electrolytes and water then passed out until 9pm. When I woke up I called my mom with the good news and ate dinner. Then I very happily went back to bed for another 8 hours of very deep sleep.

portland marathon overall female trophySplits According to my Garmin:

  1. 6:45
  2. 6:54
  3. 6:50
  4. 6:23
  5. 6:34
  6. 6:37
  7. 6:38
  8. 6:38
  9. 6:29
  10. 6:32
  11. 6:29
  12. 6:41
  13. 6:28
  14. 6:34
  15. 6:37
  16. 6:34
  17. 7:07* Large hill to St. John’s Bridge!
  18. 6:37
  19. 6:33
  20. 6:37
  21. 6:40
  22. 6:31
  23. 6:43
  24. 6:25
  25. 6:33
  26. 6:28

My primary goal coming into the marathon was to run a 2:50, which is a 6:30 pace. Ultimately, the several seconds I was off here and there added up and I missed my goal by 3:30. But this was definitely my best and most consistent effort to date. I am thrilled that I was patient in the beginning, paced pretty consistently, and pushed through the wall at the end!

portland marathon race for the animals bib I pinned this to the back of my singlet! Hopefully many people got the chance to read it, and I am happy that I was able to represent the best of what a vegan runner could do!

My mind is already racing ahead to my next planned marathon (L.A. Marathon in March) and the details of what it will take to get there and get faster! But first I need to focus on recovering optimally. I need to remember to rest, and give my body the best vegan nutrition I can to build myself up to be even stronger than I was before!

*This was my third Portland Marathon, and every year I have a great experience! Thank you to all the coordinators, volunteers, and race sponsors.

A huge thank you to my favorite running store, my coach and his wife, and my training buddy! As well as my mom and everyone else who supports me and wished me luck! There’s no way I could have done this all by myself. I am so grateful! Don’t worry, I’m done talking about the marathon now! šŸ™‚

Monday Motivation: Who’s your hero?

deena kastor

Photo: “10 Best American Marathoners of All Time” Quote: Competitor Running

When we were little, we had heroes. Whatever we aspired to be as a child, we had someone who we looked to for example of how to becomeĀ that. If you wanted to be an astronaut, a firefighter, a policeman, the President of the U.S., or an actress, there was someone who had inspired you to go that direction.

When you were little, you would have papered your walls with your heroes’ pictures and posters. You would have read and known every thing you could about who your heroes were and how they became the best in your young eyes so you could follow in their footsteps.

Do you still have heroes, or are you too old for that?

In the running world (and beyond), there are many successful athletes to look to for motivation and inspiration. But what makes someone a hero?

hero definition

Source: “Hero” Sept. 22, 2014

Someone who is an exemplar of hard work, dedication, achievement and strength even during times of challenging circumstances. A hero is humble in their success and dignified during times of loss. Heroes are timeless (*Roger Bannister). A hero is the personification of the greatest values of a people.

Modern day heroes…

“Characteristics of a modern day hero include compassion, strong work ethic, a giving nature, a defined set of morals, and a kind spirit.”(

deena kastor wins

Photo source: Letā€™ ā€œDeena Kastor sets masters world record of 69:36 at Rock ā€˜n Roll Philly, Aberu Kebede wins in 68:39ā€³ Sources cited:

…are the people who dedicate themselves to giving their best to their families, in their vocation, in their community,Ā to fellow beings and to their planet. Heroes don’t take shortcuts, they don’t make excuses for themselves, and causally, they don’t fall short of their full potential.

No matter how old you get, never lose sight of your heroes. When you need motivation, inspiration, or direction, you need a hero to look to for example. Don’t seek to mimic them, but their process to achievement can be the spark to ignite your flame. I look to Deena Kastor (who is 4o and still setting records!) and Meb Keflezighi (winner of the Boston Marathon 2014!) as examples of humble, gracious runners who work hard, yet still balance family and training. Both of them are exemplars of dedication and perserverance: they both sufferedĀ at least one major running injury that prompted critics to discount them, and they both came back stronger because of their character. Discover your passion in life, and look to those who are excelling in that arena.

Don’t forget to look close to you as well! My mom is my hero.Ā Day to day, as I grew up, her actions never seemed to be anything special. But it was the mundane tasks she performed without praise or reward that have snowballed into her achievements as an amazing mother, runner and community member. Everyday, she cooked healthy meals, helped me with homework, chauffeured, paid bills, and raised my brother and I alone while my dad was in Korea for 2 years and then Afghanistan for 6 months.

It never seemed like she was doing anything special, but I am what I am because of her. Ā When I was about 7 or 8, I remember my mom started running more seriously. I would wake up and go to the kitchen most days to find a note on the counter that read, “Gone for a run, be back soon. Love Mom.” She’s now run 15 marathons since 2002, when I was 9.

It is because of her that I am a runner. I can look to Deena and Meb and aspire to be like them, but IĀ amĀ like my mom.

A hero is whoever inspires you to be your best in a certain field. Gone are the days of heroes who conquered armies and slayed dragons, heroes today are those who put their head down and work hard out of love and dedication for what they do. Acclaim is never their primary motivator, and so they don’t lose track of their values or focus. Have one, or have many…but have a hero to inspire you and push you to excel as they have.

Happy Monday šŸ™‚

portland marathon2

My mom, Bill Rodgers, and I at last year’s Portland Marathon expo. He’s a hero of both my mom and I! My mom’s qualified for the Boston Marathon 2015, her goal!


Monday Motivation: It’s your decision!

its your decision

Like happiness, motivation needs to come from inside.

The most successful people are intrinsically motivated. Successful people posses an inner drive, they push themselves to set big goals and take the steps (or risks) necessary to accomplish those goals.

I am currently readingĀ The Perfect MileĀ by Neal Bascomb, a story that focuses on three men’s goal to break the 4-minute mile barrier in the early 1950’s. Each of these men: Wes Santee, John Landy, and Roger Bannister were incredibly self-motivated. They each trained for hours by themselves in less-than-ideal conditions. No one made them do it, in fact most people had accepted that a sub-4 minute mile couldn’t be done. So the men each pushed themselves to achieve an “impossible” goal.

John Landy and Roger Bannister were self-coaching during this time:Ā “Bannister trained alone and without coaching, convinced that he alone could get the best out of himself.” (Chapter 7). They both had to make room in their busy schedules to train, for example, Landy only found time to train at 11p.m. or midnight! During the day he attended college courses, and could only train after he finished with his homework. He crept out of his house into the dark, without anyone’s knowledge. It would have been easy for him to make excuses for skipping a workout, but he never missed one.

“Regardless of weather, sore tendons, blistered feet or fatigues muscles, Landy trained like this religiously. It was the stringing together of session after session, without compromise of effort, that most tested his discipline.Ā 

“He was the sole master of of how well he ran the mile. And the harder he trained, the more control he had over his body to dictate this performance.” (Chapter 6)

Landy was quoted as saying,Ā “I just go out there and work. I’ve got to punish myself to get anywhere.” Ā 

The bottom line is: you need to be able to rely on yourself to accomplish your dreams. External motivation alone will not produce consistent results. However, if the will to succeed is coming from within then external cues can be immensely helpful. An example of this: You are scheduled to run a 10 miler in the morning. You make plans with a friend to run the workout together, but at the last minute your friend can’t make it. What would you do? That is where being internally vs. externally motivated makes the difference. Without a buddy (coach, personal trainer, teacher, etc.) there an externally motivated person might not do the workout, after all no one would know. An internally motivated person however, wouldn’t mind because he or she was going to complete the workout no matter what.

Internal motivation results in consistency and discipline, which over time leads to success!

I firmly believe that personal internal motivation can be created. I practice this in my everyday life, I have a “Motivation Board” which has morphed into a motivation wall! I write down inspirational quotes or tough-mantras. I hang my bib numbers and awards I am most proud of. I see it everyday and it Ā continually reinforces my focus.

I have also created an environment that is conducive to my goals. I have healthy friends and key people in my life who help me with my running. No one will drag me down with toxicity or negative habits! I keep healthy food in my fridge, I pack my meals ahead of time, I read books about running and health, I watch exciting and inspirational video clips about running. I follow my heroes in running and diet on social media. I try to take in as many positive and motivational cues from my environment as I can.

monday motivation its your choice

Remember: What you focus on grows! No one can feel motivated and happy 100% of the time, I certainly don’t. But realize that you have the power to change your feelings. No thing, person, or place can make you feel a certain way. You can always choose to feel differently. Know that you have that power inside you. You are strong and brave and in control, now simply unlock what’s already there.

Monday Motivation: Know What You Want!

monday motivation quote

My new favorite quote by Jerry Rice!

What fuels your fire?

Ask anyone if they have goals for the future, and the answer will probably be, “of course!” but can that person recite them for you at that moment? That’s where he or she might run into trouble.

Goal setting is an acquired skill that I will cover more in-depth at a later time. Today, my aim is to reinforce the importance of knowing what you want and reviewing those goals every day. Why is it so important?

  • Keeps you intrinsically motivated
  • Keeps you focused
  • Gets you through the tough times

Photo Source: The Arty Runner Chick blog by Cait Chock, “Running Motivation and Keeping Perspective: Donā€™t take your running for granted as itā€™s not always a ā€˜givenā€™” May 15, 2012.

Intrinsic Motivation:

The drive to pursue your passion in life needs to come from somewhere. Yes, external motivational cues are important tools as well, Ā but they can be unreliable. If you really want to succeed, you need to be self-motivated and driven from within. I believe that this can be cultivated and strengthened, especially through reciting, writing, and reviewing your goals and dreams everyday.


By reminding yourself everyday of your goals it becomes easier to remain focused. You do not want to lose sight of what you are striving for! Your actions (workouts, diet, self-care, etc.) should all be driven toward achieving the results you desire! By keeping your goals fresh in your mind you minimize the potential to be sidetracked. It’s easier to say ‘no’ to a late night out with friends if you know that you have a hard workout planned for the next morning (especially if your next race is a month away and you have a specific time goal!) It becomes easier to sacrifice immediate gratification for the long-term results you desire if you can stay focused!


There will be tough times on your road to success. You might get injured or simply feel a loss of desire to workout. These are the times when having a goal can pull you through these low-periods. These are tricky periods where you can succumb to weaknesses and temptations, like skipping a workout or eating the whole bag of tortilla chips and tub of guacamole…..

My tips for times like these:

  • Review, recite, and write your goals down!! Start with the overall goal, then break it down, and then break it down again!

Example: I want to qualify for the Olympic trials, need to run at least a 2:43 marathon (6:13 pace/mile). Plan races to get there: Portland Marathon in Oct., base-building during the winter, L.A. marathon in March, etc. Then plan the weekly workouts, each with a specific goal: track for speed, increased pain threshold, confidence; short tempos for running at race pace or faster; long runs for endurance and simulating race day pace, confidence.

  • Before bed each night, plan for the next day’s workout. I workout in the morning, so I set my alarm, have my gear ready, know vaguely where I want to run, etc. I have a routine that I adhere to.
  • As I head out the door for my workout, I review in my head my overall goal. It gets me motivated! I also practice visualization of how I want to feel during my next race and what I hope to do.
  • I make my own motivational posters! I have them in my bedroom to see when I wake up in the morning, on my refrigerator, and on my front door to see on my way outside.
My goals, everything I do right now is either bringing me closer or farther away. I strive to live so that all my actions help me achieve success!

My goals, everything I do right now is either bringing me closer or farther away. I strive to live so that all my actions help me achieve success!

The message today: KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!

Recite, review, write it over and over and over again until you make it!!! Also believe in yourself, live in a way that aligns with your desires and you can achieve your dreams! I’m working hard everyday to achieve mine, and it has really improved the quality of my life. I am more positive, my environment and attitude is better, and the people I have met along this journey so far are amazing.

What are your goals? Running, relationships, health, work….let me know below! Also, comment if you like any of my tips and let me know what works well for you! I love learning from other people šŸ™‚ Happy Monday and Happy Labor Day!