What Running Has Taught Me About Reaching Goals

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reaching goals

Bayshore Half Marathon, 2012

A new year feels so much like a new start, doesn’t it? It’s such a great feeling to compartmentalize life by each year. We can wrap up 2016 with all it’s ups, downs, celebrations, and disappointments and put it neatly on a shelf labeled “the past”. Then we take all the information we learned from those ups, downs, celebrations, and disappointments and apply them to the next year, 2017 when we will do it better and happier.

I would argue that that’s a lot of pressure to put on a year of your life. What if we looked at every day as it’s own little year? It’s certainly true that each day is filled with ups, downs, celebrations, and disappointments. What if we shrank our focus down to a single day and made each day better and happier without worrying about the rest of the year? Yes. That’s what I want to do in 2017.

Small, Consistent Steps Add Up to Big Results

I’ll never forget training for my first half marathon. I was an emotional wreck. There I was at week 4 running my long run of 7 miles and in a complete panic that I’d be running 13.1 in just 8 few weeks. That 7-mile run about killed me. My head was stuffed with so much doubt and worry that every step felt about 20 lbs heavier than necessary. All I could think about was how impossible it was going to be to run 13.1 miles when only 7 miles was sucking. so. hard. But, here’s the thing….. I didn’t have to be able to run 13.1 miles that day. In fact, it was completely normal that I couldn’t run 13.1 miles that day. I had to run 7 miles and I did.

The next week I ran 8 miles.

Two weeks after that I ran 9 miles.

Three weeks after that I ran 11 miles.

And finally, two more weeks after that I ran 13.1 miles.

Each week as the miles increased slightly I would remind myself if I ran 8 miles last week I can run 9 miles this week. My favorite runs are out-and-back because I trick myself into believing that I only need to run a half mile further out than last time. Head games work really well for me. I rarely run 9 miles, I frequently run 3 miles, 3 times.

So, here’s my point… break down your running goals into manageable steps that you focus on one day at a time. It wouldn’t be a goal if you could complete it today. It would be done.

A Bad Run is Just a Bad Run

I love to project my difficult runs onto the outcome of my next race. It’s a debilitating practice that I don’t recommend. Nothing squashes your determination like self-deprecating hate speech. Maybe you’ve heard these phrases in your head before:

“I suck at running.”

“I’m going to be last.”

“I might die on the trail.”

Okay, that last one is a tad dramatic, but trust me I’ve thought it. Bad runs teach us that we have the ability to keep going even when something is difficult. We all have bad days. We all have bad weeks. We all have bad runs. It doesn’t mean we get to quit. And it doesn’t mean we get to put ourselves down either. A bad run is just a bad run. Learn from it and move on. Tomorrow will be better.

It’s Okay to Start Again Tomorrow

Forgiveness is the most generous gift we can give ourselves. We have no hope without it. Training to run a long distance race requires lacing up and running even when we don’t want to. Yet, sometimes we don’t. Just because we miss a run or a workout it doesn’t mean the rest of our training is wasted or that it’s over. It means we can start again tomorrow, right where we left off. Failure occurs when we tell ourselves the lie that it’s too late to begin again or that it isn’t worth the effort. It is worth every step.

It is Worth Every Step

Any runner will tell you that the miles change you. They are a gift. Go get out there and run a few!

Here are the goals we’re working toward this year!

Jesse: Consistency and good health

Owen: Sub 5:30 mile

Amy: A strong marathon

What running goals are you working toward in 2017?

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    • Amy January 20, 2017