Monday Runday: On Setting Goals and Breaking Hearts

IMG_8585 It's the end of the year... time to take stock of 2015 and dream about what 2016 has in store. (Hey! If you want help with that process yourself, sign up to receive Gate of the Year, a workbook/playbook to guide you along the way. Sign up here. Learn more here. Coming in the next couple of days! Oh, and it's not specific to running.)

My running goals for 2015 were to run 1000 miles, complete the Marine Corps Marathon, and participate in 12 races.

I didn't achieve any of those goals.

In August I got injured and was sidelined from running for three months. It broke my heart, to be honest. And it wasn't a gradual thing, in which I ignored the signs until it was too late. I was fine and dandy and kicking butt on my goals, until I quickly wasn't.

It hurt.

But perspective is everything. Even with three months off, I ran 10 races, I PR'ed in the 10K, and I captained and drove for a Ragnar team that overcame injuries, illnesses and horrific weather to prevail on the 200 mile course.

I also grew to love pool running and swimming, and I got on the bike again for the first time in many years.

And I ran 750 miles. That's far short of my goal. But it's 150 miles more than I've ever run in a year.

So ultimately, I'm happy and proud.

Goals are a double-edged sword. If you make them too ambitious, they can actually sabotage your running through injury or burnout. But goals that are too squishy won't spur you toward improvement, assuming that's important to you (and it isn't for everyone). Many people I know sign up for races because it gives them instant accountability. And of course races are fun. They're really the victory lap after weeks and months of training.

Here are my goals for this year. I hesitate to even call them goals---they're more like activities and intentions---but I hope they'll keep me pointed toward true north on this running/fitness journey I'm on.

To remain injury free, as much as that's within my control. Even though I got injured this year, I truly believe I listened well to my body, and will continue to do that in 2016. As I told myself when I was forced to take three months off, "I'd rather be running at age 90 than run during the next 90 days."

To run three times per week and cross train 2-3 times, including strength. I used to run four to five times a week, but I'm nervous about returning to that schedule. Cross training is a healthy alternative, and it's fun---and strength training is super important as we age. (Sigh.)

To do a race a month, though not always running for time. Two of those races will be triathlons, and I'm excited to be one of the people receiving free coaching through Tri-Equal to help me be successful in that event! I'll be working with coach Julie Dunkle throughout the summer and I'm psyched.

When I do race, to do so without my Garmin. I want to run by feel instead of looking at a pace on a watch. My best 5K time came when my GPS flaked out and I had no idea what pace I was running. Instead I ran based on how I felt.

To run Marine Corps Marathon. This is gonna be a grudge match for me since I had to miss it. A marathon PR would be nice but that's not a goal at this point.

To keep my easy runs truly easy. I'm a big fan of 80/20 running, in which 80% of your workout should be at an easy conversational pace. This keeps you in good shape so you can attack the other 20% at high intensity. Most recreational runners are at about a 50/50 ratio and there are various physiological reasons why that's not as healthy or effective.

Do you have fitness goals? What are they?


Image is a mid-run selfie with the statue of Bob Simon, founder of Reston which I now call home.