Allowing myself to go all in for my goals

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.   Marathon 2

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!

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Revisiting my 2013 goals

I am amazed that July is almost over. I was just looking back through some of my older posts and can’t help but feel as though I wrote some of the ones in February and January two weeks ago.

I have seen a lot of posts in the various blogs I follow checking in on resolutions and goals for 2013 since technically the beginning of the month was the half year mark. It was clear to me that the cool kid thing to do was to not only copy all of these people, but to do it a month late. I’m going with the reverse hipster initiative here: “I wrote 2013 goal update posts AFTER it was cool.”

Anyway, here were the goals I set back in January and where I am with them now.

1. Finish my fifth half marathon and my second marathon. Preferably both in PR time.
Half marathon, check! I ran the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon in April at a PR time of 1:44:43 and was freaking psyched about it. The second marathon is in the works – in training for the Richmond marathon in November – and I have high hopes for a big PR. And I do mean a big one. It will have to be because I have taken this original goal up a notch by setting the lofty goal of running this race in Boston qualifying time.

Success!

After the Raleigh Rocks Half.

2. Be on time more. I’m late to things far too often.
I am going to give myself an ‘epic fail’ grade level on this one thus far. I am probably on time slightly more because I am more conscious of my timeliness. But I am still late more than your average human being. I think my tardiness is perpetuated by several factors but mostly my obsessive compulsive and overachieving tendencies. Even if I leave myself plenty of time to get somewhere, I will end up using that time to try and squeeze something else from my to do list in or to randomly tidy my already clean apartment. I need someone around constantly to point out to me when I am doing this (aka being insane). I sort of do have that person, but Jeremy can’t actually be around me CONSTANTLY.

3. Do one blog post per week.
I have been much better about blogging than I was before the start of the new year but I don’t think I have written one post every week and my posting is always very sporadic. Lately I have been very into reading a lot of different running, fitness, and food blogs and it makes me want to put a lot more effort toward my own. I would love for Endorphins Junkie to some day be even close to as motivating and interesting as the blogs of these awesome people. I have been taking mental notes as I read them and am going to make some minor tweaks immediately (I have started including discussion questions at the end of posts because I am probably the only person who wasn’t doing that before, I am going to update my About page because it is painfully old, and I am in general just going to be posting more). I am also going to add a few more long-term, blog-related goals to my list to work toward during the rest of 2013.

4. Read more books. I don’t have a set number but “more” is pretty open to interpretation because I didn’t read that many books in 2012 at all.
So far this year I have read Water for Elephants, Bossypants, and am working on finishing Silver Linings Playbook. No, this isn’t a lot of books. But I think it is still more than I read in 2012 (which is kind of pathetic). I have made a list of books I am excited about and want to read when I am done with Silver Linings Playbook so I hope for this list to be much longer before year end.

5. Do agility classes with Juneau. I’ve been wanting to do this so long (I really think she’d be an agility all star).
Check. Juneau and I have been doing agility classes for the past seven weeks. This week was the start of a new six week session. When I enrolled her the first time I just planned to try it out for one session and play it by ear. Turns out she LOVES the classes so much that, when it came time for the first session to end, I couldn’t resist dropping the money for a second. She isn’t an all-star yet but she is improving every week and I think she has the potential to be pretty fantastic.

My girl on her first day of agility. She gets so excited every time we go.

My girl on her first day of agility. She gets so excited every time we go.

So here are my revised goals for the remainder of 2013.

1. Finish my second marathon in Boston qualifying time and remain injury free.

2. Be on time more. Seriously.

3. Improve my blog and expand its reach. Sub goals include: Write at least 2 posts per week, invest in a proper domain name, utilize social media more and consciously try to get more people following the blog.

4. Read 5 more books before the end of the year.

5. Spend more time relaxing; make an effort to fit in time to myself where I have no designated plans or places to be.

6. Get more sleep; go to bed early enough each night that I can get a minimum of 7 hours and still do what I want/need to do in the morning like fit in my workout.

What were your 2013 goals or resolutions? How are they going? What are your best tips for creating a successful blog?

Obligatory New Years Post!

It’s getting frigidly cold outside and I am terrified to go to the gym because I just know it is going to be so crowded with new members I can barely move. It must be a new year!

All sarcasm aside though, I am pretty excited for the new year. 2012 came to a stellar end when I finished my certificate program and the very next day was rewarded with a title change and raise at work. The day after that began my 13 day holiday break of epic relaxation. The break came at a perfect time because it allowed be to take a step back and come to a pretty necessary realization.

Since I graduated college I have been living under the pretense that, in terms of my education and career, I need to be perpetually searching for the next step. For the first several months out of school, this assumption was true because I was rightfully searching for the correct outlet for that education I spent the first 22 years of my life obtaining. I plowed through several short-lived jobs and apartments all along honing in on what would be a fulfilling use of my time and energy. I ended up at my current job just short of that goal because I was working at a pretty great environmental organization but I was hired as an administrative assistant. Since then, though, I have moved up quickly in responsibility and pay scale there. I love the people I work with and the office environment I work in. Had you asked college graduate Anna back in 2010 what she thought of my job right now, I would have probably thought it sounded pretty damn great.

Still, I have been living under that same pretense that I need to be searching for the next immediate step (whether it be law school, a new job, or whatever). But my realization is that I have already taken, and likely can continue to take, several next steps where I already live and work. Maybe I should listen to my friends, boyfriend, and 2010 college graduate self when they tell me that I am lucky as hell to have a job in my field with really great coworkers. This isn’t to say I won’t move on eventually (especially since I am only 24), but I’m ready to take some time and enjoy where I am. If I am happy, challenged, and intrigued with a job that can also pay all my bills, why should I abandon it right now?

That being said, my mind is freed up to think of some less career-oriented focuses for 2013. I am almost too scared to write them down because that will certainly jynx them. So instead of writing them down as resolutions (“resolving” to do something makes it all the more official and thus more jynx-worthy), I will write some – but not all – of my goals for 2013.

1. Finish my fifth half marathon and my second marathon. Preferably both in PR time.

2. Be on time more. I’m late to things far too often.

3. Do one blog post per week.

4. Read more books. I don’t have a set number but “more” is pretty open to interpretation because I didn’t read that many books in 2012 at all.

5. Do agility classes with Juneau. I’ve been wanting to do this so long (I really think she’d be an agility all star).

Happy 2013 everyone!