What's your reason for this season?

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Editor’s note: Erin Moeller, 34, of Mount Vernon, is a lifelong runner who qualified for the last two Olympic Marathon Trials. A native of Ryan, she’s a graduate of North-Linn and Wartburg who works for Benchmark Inc. in Cedar Rapids. She has two children — Ryne (7) and Evelyn (3) — with husband Andy.

I almost forgot how much I love the fall.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy taking in a Friday night football game, tailgating at our seven-year old’s flag football game (yes, I’m serious) watching the Hawkeyes, or playing catch out in our front yard.

However, for me fall is cross country season.

Waking up on a brisk Saturday morning, smelling the fresh air, watching the leaves start to turn colors, and seeing dew on the lawn brings back incredible memories of traveling with the team to random golf courses — or “cross country courses.” When you’re as bad at golf as I am, truly the only practical purpose for these perfectly manicured landscapes is providing a great stage for a fiercely competitive group of harriers.

Now that my high school and college days are so many years ago the memories are nearly out of sight, my fall running days have shifted toward local road races and marathons.

For us crazy runners, there’s just something about the joy of getting up early and starting out on a run when you can feel the nip in the air and see your breath as you exhale. While half the state seems to be heading toward Kinnick Stadium for a morning of fun, our twisted idea of a good time is heading out to hit the pavement or cross country course.

With the fall upon us, what better time to step back for a moment to consider our reason for this season. Regardless of the purpose behind your running, I believe we can all benefit from setting goals and establishing a reason for this terrific season.

A few goals to consider might include the following:

- Increase daily/weekly mileage

-  Recruit friends to join in the fun

- Participate in a new event

- Run a new PR (personal record)

- Improve your fitness level

- Qualify for state/nationals (high school/collegiate runners)

Regardless of your goal, keep the following in mind:

- Is it challenging? (Don’t make it too easy)

- Is it realistic? (Don’t make it impossible to accomplish)

- Who/what can help make this dream become a reality?

Without a doubt, it’s up to you to commit to your goals, put in the hard work and remain disciplined until you reach your “finish line.”

In addition to this personal responsibility, I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful to write my goals down and post them somewhere where I can see them on a daily basis. Something else to consider is sharing your goals with teammates, family members, coaches, co-workers and friends who can provided support and encouragement along the way.

Through writing my goals on paper and communicating them to my support group, somehow this commitment gives me the extra drive/motivation to get out the door and push a little harder ... especially on days when skipping my run or workout seems pretty darned enticing.

I don’t know about you, but some days it seems life is just flying by. Despite the occasional chaos in my life, I’ve found benefit in purposely slowing down to set goals for myself and pushing toward accomplishing something. Don’t get me wrong, my days continue to fly by. However, at the end of the day when I collapse on the couch from a long day, I have a feeling of purpose as I continue to focus on achieving my goals.

Lucky for me, fall has just begun and I have the rest of the season to look forward to. Best of luck to each of you as you work toward the goals you set for yourself. Don’t forget — be sure to have fun along the way.

Life’s short, play hard. Enjoy the season.

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