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.