Running into the New Year

Well, with race seasons coming to a close and the new year only 6 weeks away, many runners are starting to switch focus to their 2017 running goals. Exciting, eh?

This is the first time since I became a runner that I don’t have YUUUGE RUNNING GOALS for the upcoming year, and I have to admit, it feels a little strange. This year I was singularly focused on running sub-3:45 in the Pittsburgh Marathon; last year, it was running a big PR at Grandma’s Marathon; and the year before that, it was about my first half marathon in the spring and my first full in the fall.

For 2017, I have a full marathon in the fall and at least one half marathon in the spring. While I’m excited to run my 4th marathon, I don’t have any goals for any of my 2017 races besides “finish strong”. Cliché, sure, but that really is my biggest goal and the guiding principle of my 2017 race season.

I’ve had a few moments lately where I toyed with the idea of actually training for my March (and possibly April, possibly May) half marathon. Not with a time goal or a structured training plan – I’m not ready to go back down that rabbit hole yet – but just actively trying to get in good half marathon shape. The race is still a healthy 4 months away, but given how things are going at the moment, I decided that for the time being I need to put the half marathon out of my mind and focus on taking things one week at a time.

Currently I am struggling to get back into a routine and make running a part of my daily life again, so that needs to be my one and only priority right now. I know that if I continue to keep my eyes on the horizon and my head in the future, I will only get more frustrated. So for the remaining 6 weeks of this year, my only “goal”, if you could call it that, is to focus each week on having the best week I can. Right now that means being stronger than my excuses and making a real effort to get my butt out that door more than 2-3 times each week. I do always run a minimum of 20 minutes, but pace and distance aren’t my concern at all right now, and won’t be for quite some time. I’m continuing to run without GPS and keep my focus on re-acclimating to the act of regular running. I’m trying to put the March half out of my mind and just focus on this. It’s possible that it will be a slow journey and I won’t progress in time to be fully prepared for 13.1 miles in 4 months, but I can’t worry about that right now. It will just further frustrate and overwhelm me. I have to keep my eye on the ball.

My hope is that by year’s end, I can assess how I’m feeling and where I’m at with my routine, and come up with a game plan from there. It won’t involve a big time goal or hearty training cycle, but I’m hopeful that by the dawn of 2017 I will be running frequently again and can switch my focus to building up my fitness. At this point, I’d like to be able to start adding time/distance to my weekday runs to get it back up to 4-6 miles a day and reintroducing weekend long runs into my running diet. I’m also hoping that in January, when holiday madness has quieted down, life is back to normal, and my mileage is a little higher, I can finally get serious about fully switching to AM running.

I am pretty much done with any time goal oriented training for a long time. But I have to admit, I do get excited at the prospect of going into my March half marathon feeling like I’m in good shape to run one. I hope that’s how things work out, but right now that can’t be my main concern. I have to keep my focus on the present and see how things unfold. Staying present and grounded is the strategy I need to use to get me through this entire next year of running.

Looking ahead to 2017 (finally!), the big goals and resolutions that are taking shape for me are, for the first time, not related to running. I must say, it’s a welcome change. The “blank slate” of the new year is when I have the most drive, motivation, and enthusiasm, and I’m glad for the opportunity to focus that on other areas of my life now.

 

Do you have a big goal on tap for 2017?

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12 thoughts on “Running into the New Year

  1. I’m personally hoping you find a good balance between time goals and the fitness goals. i have a similar mindset of challenging myself to be the best runner I can. But I also understand the burn out and the need to balance everything. Hopefully one day you go after that 3:45, I would like to see that training cycle 🙂

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  2. I guess I am super behind in the blog world because I have not thought about my 2017 goals or resolutions yet!

    I like that your main goal will be on something other than running. I know that sounds weird coming from a friend who reads your running blog, but I love when run bloggers talk about other things too. When everyone is obsessed with training goals (as happens every summer) I get swept up in that craziness and it’s really not who I am.

    I saw a quote once that said “I am a runner, but running doesn’t define who I am,” and I think that mostly fits my life. I totally get that when we’re training for a big goal running is a top priority but IDK if the payoff is there to make it THE priority for me. Over the last year or so I’ve learned I enjoy sleeping in, spending time with Adam at night, doing fun things on the weekends, etc. and sometimes training hard means giving up those things to run and sleep 24/7.

    I used to not understand Megan’s routine of hardly ever racing, but I totally get it now since I backed off of racing this year.

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    1. I TOTALLY agree with all of this! Getting swept up in the craziness is also not who I am, and it led me to do all this soul-searching this fall. I realized how much I too missed all those trade-offs: having a better relationship with Kevin because we can actually spend time together, being able to say yes to nights out, skipping runs and not feeling like the world will end, and just exploring other passions. Chasing time goals is fun and that hard work can be very gratifying, but it really does come at a high premium. Maybe every few years or so when I’m at another slow patch in life I can afford those costs and train for a big goal, but in general I’ve learned that I am someone who really needs balance in order to remain happy and healthy. If that means I run a bunch of personal worsts but have fun doing so, then I would happily take that over this spring when I hit a marathon PR but wasn’t happy. Life’s too short, and especially after the *ahem* events of this month, I no longer feel like I can afford to let life keep passing me by while I live in a little running bubble.

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      1. Jumping on this train to say that earlier this month I had a week were I spent more time with study groups than I did with my husband. A bit of a wake up call that made me realize that I really, really do not have the time to train right now (especially for an ultra). Putting the time I was spending running into my relationship was 100% the right decision.

        I’m still trying to run a few miles here and there when I have time, but I’ve taken a huge step away from goals. I’m okay dedicating myself to an all consuming training plan when I am really invested in the outcome of the race, but to do it for a race that has never been on my radar? Not worth the sacrifices.

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        1. It can be so hard and scary to give up on big goals and the potential success they may bring…but then you bite the bullet and “quitting” actually feels great! I think what helps is to take the long view: there may be some FOMO now, but you just have to believe that it will be worth it later on when your break actually results in returning to running stronger and better than ever before. I’ve never heard anyone who truly needed a break say they regretted taking one.

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  3. A blank slate is good, maybe you need a year to just see how the flow goes and enjoy running again. One week at a time is good for now…I am trying to get back to working out four times a week, I broke my streak the week before the race.
    I really have no goal for next year except to avoid taking time off due to injury. I had to take almost three months off this year. I hope i can manage to be easier on myself…which means I won’t be running any goal races at all, just running for fun…still not sure how i feel about that yet…

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    1. Thanks. I already do enjoy running again. Preserving that enjoyment is why I’m prioritizing other things this year and taking my return to running slowly.

      My personal opinion: racing is overrated. I actually admire people who mostly only run for fun – I wish I had that kind of love for the sport that made me get out the door every day without needing a goal to motivate me. A race like a marathon can be a great motivator to stick to a schedule, but with shorter distances, you begin to realize that they’re just more stress than they’re worth unless it’s a race you really, really care about or you’re a person who truly enjoys racing for fun and doesn’t care about finish times.. I used to love racing but I stopped enjoying it once the novelty wore off. I have been much happier doing less racing. It makes each one more special, and running is more fun when I’m not constantly worried about maintaining my fitness for a race. I hope you enjoy your year off from racing!

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  4. This sounds perfect for you. I love that you’re not focused on big time goals and are committed to doing what’s best for you. A year ago I was also committed to no time goals and running for fun and to challenge myself in new ways. But, for better or worse, my marathon changed me. I now have this inner fire to do it again and to actually meet my time goal. Not meeting time goals haunts me. I feel like I have to prove to myself that I can do it, and I won’t be happy until I do. I think I was successful this year at achieving some balance and want to work on that more this year so that I’m not only focused on running.

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    1. I think we all go through phases – sometimes the desire to go for big goals is there and it makes sense in your life to do so, which is where I was at going into my Pittsburgh training last year. And then sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it and/or other things in life need to take priority. We all just need to follow our heart and do what’s best at any given time. I’m sure every couple years or so I’ll go through another phase where I’m motivated to chase a big goal and have the ability to focus on it – but, as long as I’m not there right now, better use that energy to get some other stuff done around here!

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  5. I’m sort of in theme position – I have Ironman Lousiville already scheduled for next year, and I have some other races I really want to do, but most importantly I want to use the remainder of this year to figure out how to make those goals happen while still enjoying other parts of my life. Right now I’m feeling seriously motivated to go after a big goal in the spring, but I don’t know if that enthusiasm will last and I don’t really want to hold myself to it just because, you know? I’m really trying to use the rest of the year to assess where I am, what I want, and how I can spend the next year training and racing, which deep down I DO love, without losing my mind and my happiness in the process. Race day makes it all worth it but the more races I do, I feel like I’m making more sacrifices to get there and it’s taking away from the payoff. I want to get back to a place where I’m doing this because it’s fun and not because I feel guilty if I don’t.

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