When I first started running, I didn’t care very much about setting specific race goals. I was just enthusiastic to cross finish lines and that was a great enough challenge for me. I didn’t want to become “that” runner who stares so obsessively at their watch during races they forget to look around and enjoy the experience. I didn’t want to become “that” runner who is absolutely devastated when they don’t meet some specific goal time. I wanted running to remain fun. I always believed that just finishing would be enough for me. And it still is. I never want that to change.
But over the course of the past few years, I’ve come to realize if I don’t set some goals for my big races, I tend to become lazy and complacent about my training. I’ll slack off on workouts or skip them all together, because I haven’t put enough pressure on myself to truly get the best out of my training. Over time I began crafting more specific time goals, on the condition that I not allow it to become an unhealthy obsession. This year I set a goal to achieve a sub-2 hour half marathon. My previous half marathon PR was 2:01, so I knew it was within reach. In March I accomplished my goal at the NYC Half Marathon with a time of 1:56. Talk about smashing a goal! It was one of the best races of my life and the feeling of accomplishment I had afterward was incredible. I felt like an entirely new realm of possibility was opened up to me. Goals I had never dared dream about are now tangible.
That brings me to my BIG goal for 2017. It scares me a little bit, honestly. But I’ve heard the expression, “If you don’t set goals that scare you a little, than they aren’t big enough.” And I believe this; so I’m stepping out and going for it. I believe that some of the most exciting things in life happen when you leave your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I waffled back and forth for a bit on whether I wanted to share with you what my specific goal is, mainly because I worried about what people would think if I fail to meet it. However, I think part of the bravery process involves making my goals public and getting some accountability from others. So, here goes: my big, scary goal for 2017 is to break 4 hours in the marathon.For some of you, this may not sound all that impressive. But for me it is. My current marathon PR is 4:18 and I only achieved that in June at Grandma’s Marathon. Granted, I was trained and prepared to run faster than a 4:18 and likely would have achieved my goal of a sub-4:10 if the heat and humidity that day hadn’t been so extreme (the majority of the race was run under black flag conditions). But even then, 18 minutes is a lot of time. 18 minutes over the course of 26.2 miles translates to nearly 45 seconds per mile faster than my previous marathon pace. Yikes.
That is why, in addition to ramping up my training for the next year, I’ve decided to work with a coach. Well, kind of. He is a good friend of mine, who happens to be a certified personal trainer and marathoner himself, and is looking to gain some practice/clients in the coaching world. He has written several plans for other folks and agreed to create some for me. He is writing two specific training plans for 2017. First is for my spring marathon in May. (I plan on sharing more specifics of this plan and my workouts in future posts!) The other plan will be for the Chicago Marathon next October. My goal for Chicago is to see a 3:5X for my finish time. So, there you have it!
Sometimes you have shut your eyes, breath in deeply, and jump. I’m going for it!