Riding, Running, & Writing – Goals

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals” – Thoreau

I’ve always loved this quote and in many ways, it has grounded me in the whole goal achieving process no matter what I have attempted.

I’m a dreamer and always have been. I think dreaming can be healthy provided one keeps the dream in perspective. Like most people, I’ve dreamed about what life might be like after winning the lottery when the amounts reach those eight digit numbers. We’ve had fun with it as a family discussing how much we would give each extended family member, what dream house we would have built, how many acres of land it would sit on, and how we would stick a large portion of the money away and let it work for us. We don’t start buying lottery tickets, looking for land to build our dream house, or spend hours on the internet window shopping for all the other things we could buy with that money.

There are dreams however that I’ve acted on. These are dreams where I’ve set an action plan in place to achieve a goal, some lofty, some not so lofty. In doing so, I’ve found the journey to be just as celebratory as the destination provided I actually reach the destination. In most cases I have.  There has been a lot written about goal setting from complete books to simple six step plans and in my opinion, an individual’s approach should be whatever works.

My 2nd 5K -2010 - with free beer at the finish line

My 2nd 5K -2010 – with free beer at the finish line,and my son running with me despite the fact he could have run it 10 minutes faster by himself

I wanted to run a marathon.  I dreamed of running a marathon. After cycling for many years and having numerous century rides (100 plus miles) under my belt, I decided I would run a marathon.  My initial thoughts were that it would be no harder than training for a century.  One just needs to get the miles and time in and the distance will come.  After developing a plan, I embarked on this new adventure and discovered something. I don’t like running longer distances nor did I have the inspiration needed to push me farther.  I’d completed numerous 5Ks and even ran a 5 miler and found I enjoyed it but also found I had no desire to go farther.  I can live with that.  I just didn’t have a passion for running long distances like I did for long distances in cycling. For cycling, I had many years and countless hours of watching the Tour de France inspiring me not to mention beautiful road miles and scenery I melted into. For running, I just couldn’t get into it. I love walking, I love hiking, and I love running short distances. Long distance running just doesn’t do it for me. My runner’s high was achieved at 5K and no farther. My cycling high occurred about every ten miles and continued up to one hundred and thirty miles, the most I ever did in one day. Each grouping of ridden miles an achieved goal and another high.

When it comes to writing, I can reflect on my experience and approach to both cycling and running. I’ve done the short distance in writing short stories or lyrics and loved it. My goal is the long distance, a novel,  and it will come. The difference here is in what inspires me and in similar fashion to what inspired me while cycling: the countless hours of reading over the years, the hundreds of books we have in our house and on our ereaders, and the beautiful words I have read over a lifetime. I love writing and I love the written word.  I’ve also found my highs are very similar to what I get running a short distance or every ten miles or so on the bike.  It might happen at 1000 words or 5000 thousand words but it happens.  And with each high, I celebrate the accomplishment along with what I am becoming.

Tour de Tucson - 113 miles

Tour de Tucson – after 113 miles




  1. Nihar Pradhan

    That’s a really powerful quote. Yes, we have to dream and dream big, and then achievement can become a reality, but not forget the profound thought behind the quote…
    Lovely Post!!!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you Nihar! I’ve always loved this quote and found it meaningful in my own life.

  2. Ariel Bernstein

    Wonderful quote! Nice comparison with cycling & writing 🙂

    • W.C. Cunningham

      Thank you Ariel for reading and commenting!

  3. Vashti Quiroz-Vega

    Hello! Great post. Love the quote in the beginning. Happy holidays! 😀

  4. Georgia Rose

    Love the quote Bill, I haven’t heard it before but it is so true. I look forward to seeing more of your writing, it’s always enjoyable and eventually perhaps that novel?

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