Is a Deadline the Best Motivator?

By Ted Spiker

Almost 10 years ago, I started a Facebook group for people who wanted to run a 5K under 30 minutes. The group—called the Sub-30 Club, which now has nearly 7,000 members—quickly changed its focus: We wouldn’t just center around 29:59. Instead, anybody with a running, fitness or health goal would find a community of support and positivity, because we all understood what it felt like to struggle, to chase, and to overcome our demons trying to attain what once felt unattainable. 

I hit the goal time with 20-some seconds to spare about a year after starting Sub-30, but I haven’t seen that number since. 

Knowing that 29:59 is ketchup-bottle slow for some and jet-fast for others (fitness is relative!), I #stupidly declared a few months ago that I wanted to try to hit sub-30 again to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Sub-30 Club in April 2022. 


A) I swam more than I ran the past few months, so I’m behind schedule. Big boy summer-running = feeling like you’re trotting through a dishwasher cycle within the first six steps. 

B) My heel pain, tight hamstrings and taco-lined core have protested this idea. 

With a deadline approaching, my focus has sharpened, and that means fighting through the gravy-stained holiday season, as well as pushing past whatever work, life and anatomical issues decide to pin-pop my plan. 

Once someone who loved setting fitness goals, I have dialed back the last few years—instead focusing on wellness as a way to feel better and be healthier rather than pursuing some arbitrary number that doesn’t really matter. Or does it? 

This hiatus has also made me hunger for something other than thousand-calorie, head-sized soft pretzels (but the beer cheese!). It has made me long for the thrill of the pursuit and the journey of trying to push harder for something. 

I have a long way to go, and it will take some serious sacrifices to get smaller and faster. Deep-down, I don’t know if I’ll make it. 

This holiday season, I’m grateful for many things in my life, including the ability to give it a try. 


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