For those who followed this blog for the last year or year and a half, you may remember that I had some pretty monumental goals for my last two marathons in fall of 2013 and spring of 2014.
After taking a long absence from the marathon since my first in 2011, I gained substantial speed and strength at the half marathon distance. I had a very timid idea that I might be fast enough to run a Boston qualifying time in my second marathon. So I went for it. Mostly. I put my goals out there in the open for all to see, I trained for 16 solid weeks, and I gave each workout everything I had.
I missed my goal of sub 3:35 at the Richmond Marathon, but not by much. Eager to capitalize on the fitness I had gained and shave off the 4 or 5 minutes needed to reach my 3:35 goal, I ran another marathon in spring of 2014. I finished with a 3:37 PR, inching slightly closer to my goal but still falling short and ultimately leaving my body and mental fortitude rather tired and broken.
It was clearly time for a break from the marathon. So I took a break. But a strong desire for a BQ that is mere minutes away doesn’t just dissolve during a break. And I knew pretty quickly that my next attempt would be spring of 2015, keeping the stresses of training as far from the stresses of planning for our October 2015 wedding as possible. So I will be returning to the Wrightsville Beach Marathon again in March to give my BQ goal another shot.
When I say that I ‘mostly’ went for my goals in my 2013 and 2014 marathons, I am not disparaging the effort put into my training, or even my results. I am qualifying that I set about achieving my goals without changing my usual training strategy and not in the mindset that I deserved to take above and beyond measures to make my goals a reality.
I had considered the idea of getting some level of coaching multiple times in the past but talked myself out of it. I reasoned that I wasn’t a fast enough runner to legitimize having a coach and that it was too financially frivolous for me to spend money on it.
I rarely invested time and money in treating myself to sports massages or other preventative care during training. Expense was a factor but I also was under the delusional impression that any damage done by training could be undone by a few minutes with a foam roller.
I occasionally felt guilty for the amount of time and energy I put into training, even though I was only running 4 days a week at the time.
This time around it has become clear to me that if I want to achieve my goals, and I want to achieve them soon, my attitude about those goals would have to change. Instead of timidly thinking that I could maybe run a marathon in under 3 hours and 35 minutes, I should probably start telling myself that I am capable of doing it, and that after all of the heart I have put into running I deserve to do it.
I realized that I couldn’t go about training the exact same way, and expect different results. I would need to run more mileage, but do so very strategically. When I realized that I had no idea of the best way to safely do that, I finally decided to find a coach. Instead of feeling guilty about the cost or feeling silly because I think I’m not ‘fast enough’ to have a coach, I remind myself that I want my goal, coaching will help me get there, and that’s really all that matters.
I am still coming around to biting the bullet and spending money and time on all the preventative care that marathon training requires. But, particularly recently, I have come to respect the needs my body has as I put it through this type of stress and accepted that a long sports massage is sometimes not indulgent but necessary.
I have stayed home in my sweatpants just about every weekday (including Friday) night since early December. My friends and fiance still love me even though I have dropped off the social map. And I don’t feel the guilt or regret as if I have missed out on absolutely everything.
None of this long-winded post is meant to suggest that anyone who doesn’t invest in coaching or stay home like a recluse every night isn’t going to or shouldn’t reach their running goals. Not at all.
I am only trying to encourage anyone who fears their goals or who hesitates to take the extra steps to get there because they worry they’ll ultimately regret it. If there is a goal that you really want and you are willing to put in all the work to achieve it, then you deserve that goal and you deserve to go ‘all in’ to make it a reality.
Do you have a big goal you are working towards right now – running or otherwise? Tell me about it!