Thursday, February 7, 2019

Run With Purpose

I have a dream of running the Boston Marathon again, as described in a previous post. That dream is shared by many runners. To get to Boston, you will obviously need to train hard. What will drive you to get out the door consistently and complete those necessary long runs is your purpose for running Boston.

To determine your purpose in running the Boston Marathon, you need to explore the reasons it is so important to you. The Reasons represents the R in the DREAMSCycle ™. In a quiet place, away from distractions, think of the reasons you want to run the Boston Marathon. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Weight control – having Boston as a goal will encourage you to train which will allow you to lose weight or stabilize your weight
  • Company – you like to run with others and running a Boston Qualifier will provide lots of company
  • Travel – you like to travel and you have never been to Boston
  • Pleasure – you love the feeling of running, the energy it provides you, the feeling of euphoria when you complete a marathon
  • Health and well-being – training to qualify for the Boston Marathon brings you physical and mental benefits that make you feel energized
  • Relaxation – training for the marathon brings you a sense of peace
  • Meeting new people – you like to meet new people and you can meet many on your way to qualifying for Boston
  • Winning – you might aim to win or place well overall in the race or in your age category
  • Fame – you would like to be famous and telling people you ran the Boston Marathon brings its own fame
  • Money or fortune – you might be of a caliber that you can place high enough to earn money in Boston, or maybe you are sponsored
  • Accomplishment – competing in the Boston Marathon is an accomplished that you will cherish for the rest of your life
  • Build self-esteem – qualifying for the Boston Marathon increases your self-worth and sense of esteem; not everyone can qualify for Boston
  • Appearance – training to qualify for the Boston Marathon will help in increasing your fitness and controlling your weigh which will help with your overall appearance
  • Enjoying the outdoors – training on the roads to qualify for Boston can take you to some enchanting outdoor locations
  • Prove yourself – by qualifying for Boston you can prove to yourself that you have what it takes as an accomplished runner
  • Reach your potential – in attempting to qualify for Boston, you will push your limits
  • Meet a partner – through training, you can join others and possibly meet a life partner
  • Join a friend – a friend might already have qualified for Boston and you would like to join them
  • Freedom – training for the marathon can give you a sense of freedom from everyday demands
  • Sense of belonging – being part of a training group or even part of the people who qualified for Boston will increase your sense of belonging
  • Recognition – you want to be recognized for all the effort you have put into your running, and qualifying for Boston is a badge of honour

Personally, here are my reasons for trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon:

  • Weight control – I found that when I run more than 40 km per week, it is easier for me to control my weight.
  • Travel – I have been to Boston many times (I even lived there for a few months), so it would be great to go back now, 20 years later, with my kids who have never been.
  • Health and well-being – I feel more energized and alert when I train hard for a race.
  • Relaxation – Training for the marathon brings me a sense of peace.
  • Fame – I like when people recognize the accomplishment of having run the Boston Marathon.
  • Accomplishment – I ran the Boston Marathon over 20 years ago and the sense of accomplishment was terrific; I would like to feel that sense of accomplishment again.
  • Build self-esteem – I feel that much more special knowing that I qualified for Boston with its challenging standards.
  • Appearance – I am slimmer when I run the necessary distances to qualify for Boston.
  • Prove myself – Now that I am getting older, I again feel the need to prove to myself that I can do this.
  • Join a friend – My spouse qualified for Boston last year; I would love to run Boston with her again.
  • Freedom – When I train, I tend to forget the everyday demands.
  • Recognition – Now that I am older, qualifying for Boston would be recognized even more than my first time around.

To determine which of the multitude of reasons are more important, the list must be pared down. To achieve this, I pare the list down to my top five reasons, then to my top two or three. From these key reasons, I attempt to create a purpose for trying to qualify for Boston. The exercise resulted in the following:

Top 5 Reasons:

  • Accomplishment
  • Build self-esteem
  • Prove myself
  • Join my spouse
  • Recognition

Top 2 Reasons:

  • Prove myself
  • Join my spouse

From my top reasons, I determined that my purpose for qualifying for the Boston Marathon is to once again share the wonderful experience of running the Boston Marathon with my spouse, this time with my children as witnesses. The statement that would clearly reaffirm my purpose would be:
“I qualify for the Boston Marathon to be able to run Boston with my spouse again.”

The 5 Whys
Another exercise that can also be used to identify the core reason for trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon is to ask the 5 Whys. You start by asking “Why?” until you come up with the root reason. Five Whys is a good number, but it could be more or less.

By using the 5 Whys, here is what I come up with. In this case, it only took four Whys.

  • Why do I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Because I would like to run the Boston Marathon again with my spouse.
  • Why do I want to run it again with my spouse? Because it was such a great experience.
  • Why was it such a great experience? Because we supported each other and shared a common experience.
  • Why do I want to support my spouse and share a common experience? Because I love my spouse and participating in events together makes me happy.

Whatever your purpose for qualifying for the Boston Marathon, it will direct your goals and ensure you spend your resources appropriately to achieve the goals that matter to you.

Monday, January 7, 2019

I Dream of Boston

I started running in 1987. Although initially my training was to compete in triathlons, I immediately started considering Boston as a marathon to run in the future. It took me 10 years and 10 attempts before I succeeded, as you can read in my running memoir, Take 10 and Reach the Boston Marathon.

Over the last 20 years, my focus has been on running, although not so much on racing. I have only been competing in one or two races per year. As my wife has re-invigorated her running lately, it was time for me to be more serious with my own running. This is where I decided to use the DREAMS Cycle ™ to help me. The start of the DREAMS Cycle ™ is D for “Dreams and Desires” as mentioned in a previous blog. This step allows you to determine what are your dreams and desires, what you really want, what makes you happy.

The difference between dreams and desires is that dreams are the things you would really like to achieve if you had all the money, time, energy, talent, opportunity and support you needed. For example, a dream for me is to win the Boston Marathon. Desires, on the other hand, are more concrete and immediate. For example, I wish I could run in the Boston Marathon. The difference is subtle, and in the end, it does not matter that much as long as you identify what will make you happy.

The beginning of the year is often a great time to start dreaming. To identify your Dreams and Desires, you need to be in the right frame of mind and in the right setting. A calm soothing environment is more conducive to letting your mind wander and to dream. This could be lying on a hammock by the sea. It could be in a quiet reclining chair in a family room. For me, the kitchen table at the cottage creates a great atmosphere.

While pondering your dreams, the distractions of everyday life must be kept to a minimum. Your mind must be free of work concerns; family obligations must be put aside; paying bills must be postponed. Early mornings or late night can often work better for people. You will need to find about 30 minutes, two or three times over the course of a week. In my case, obligations are lessened at the cottage once the children have gone to bed. I pour myself a soothing drink: sometimes a soft drink, sometimes a sparkling juice, on the rare occasions, a cooler.

Not only do you need to think of your dreams and desires, but you also need to record them as you will need to reflect on them further on. Any piece of paper would do, but I prefer a notepad. If you have the right technology, you could use a computer or a tablet with an app. For example, you could use OneNote or Evernote.

Once you have your ideal location and some quiet time, simply close your eyes or stare into space and let your mind wander. Ask yourself: what do I really want out of running? What would really make me happy? What would excite me so much that I would dance spontaneously? There are no bad dreams or desires. Dreams can be as outlandish as you want; there are no dreams too silly to consider. Dreams don’t have to be realistic; reality will come later when you set your goals. Remember, these are your dreams and you most likely will never share these with another human soul, lest you be put away or laughed out of this world. Capture every idea that pops into your head, even if it repeats itself in a different shape. This is brainstorming at its crudest. Don’t analyze and determine if your dreams are feasible or not; just write them down.

As I have been running for so long, and have made these dreams lists so often, I have a good idea of what I want to achieve with my running so I can go directly to my desire which is to qualify for the Boston Marathon again.

In the next post, we will explore the dreams and desires so as to determine the reasons you want to run, or in my case to qualify for Boston.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Qualify for the Boston Marathon the DREAMS Cycle ™ Way

The last and only time I qualified for the Boston Marathon was in 1996 at the Toronto Marathon. There, I ran my first and only sub-3-hour marathon. I then competed in Boston in the spring of 1997. I captured this monumental achievement in a memoir, Take 10 and Reach the Boston Marathon.

Since then, I’ve had my ups and downs in terms or running, from running a couple of 50K ultramarathons, to having some health issues and injuries that curtailed my running dramatically. Lately, with my wife starting to run again, I feel more invigorated and ready to challenge myself again with the goal of qualifying for Boston.

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is no simple endeavor. It requires commitment, dedication and a solid plan. This is where the DREAMS Cycle ™ comes in. When I qualified for Boston 20 years ago, I was studying at the University of Ottawa for a Master’s degree in Educational Counseling. One of the courses I completed as part of my degree was on counseling approaches. The major assignment for the course consisted of developing your own personal counseling model.

After much soul-searching, I created the DREAM cycle approach. DREAM was an acronym for Dreams, Reality, Explore options, Action plan, and Monitor. The visual that I associated with the DREAM cycle was of a bicycle, which was appropriate at the time as I was heavily involved in triathlons. The spoke on the wheels of the bicycle represented the letters of the acronym, while the wheel represented a continuous cycle. The bicycle also meant to indicate that the person on the bicycle was in the driver seat. The professor gave me an A for that elaborate model.

I translated the DREAM cycle into a guide for running, Plan on Running Your Best. This has been available for free for quite a few years. It is a little technical in certain areas and is now quite dated as it is paper-based. Over the next two decades, I used the DREAM cycle and the guide, while refining the model which evolved into the DREAMS Cycle ™. This time the acronym stands for:

D for Dreams and Desires

R for Reasons and Reality

E for Explore possibilities and Establish SMART goals

A for Acquire knowledge and Action plan

M for Move forward and Monitor progress

S for Stay motivated/focused and Seek support

C for Celebrate and Cycle back


The DREAMS Cycle ™ is a systematic approach to helping people reach their dreams.


Explaining the DREAMS Cycle ™ can be rather dry, and grasping the concept and the process can be challenging. You need pertinent and interesting practical examples to facilitate comprehension. Describing the DREAMS Cycle ™ through my experiences of attempting to qualify for the Boston marathon will allow me to reach my objective of qualifying for Boston while providing a great example of how to use the DREAMS Cycle ™. Thus, the creation of this blog, Qualify for the Boston Marathon the DREAMS Cycle ™ Way!