Intentions, Goals, and Aging

Racing Wisely CoverIn my book Racing Wisely: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Performing at Your Personal BestI suggest using both intentions and goals to plan your training and racing. While we’re all familiar with goals—running a certain time, lifting a certain weight, beating a certain opponent—intentions are more nebulous. In Racing Wisely, I define intention as the private, personal, often unmeasurable reason why you compete.

This sprang to mind when I read Gina Kolata’s New York Times piece on slowing down with age. The limitations of age force us to focus less on goals, or to adjust the goals based on age-grading charts like the one mentioned in the article, and more on intentions. We are less interested in training and competing for glory and more interested in the experience of being in our bodies as they move. This movement becomes less directed toward achieving a particular outcome and more toward the inner sensations and broader mental and physical benefits of exercise.

A similar pattern emerges among yoga practitioners. After several years of practicing, many of which may have focused on achieving increasingly sophisticated poses, we generally turn away from externally measurable achievements and toward the gentler expressions of poses, along with careful attention to the experience of being in a breathing body. Kolata’s article ends with her source’s suggestion of running watch-free. Can you bring the same approach to your mat? Can you emphasize intention over goals?


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Sage Rountree

Sage Rountree is author of six books on yoga for athletes, most recently Everyday Yoga.

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