Goals: A Study in Past Improvement and Future Motivation

Remember that time that when I updated you about things in my life, a lot of which weren’t running?

Well here’s the just running and running only post that should go along with it.

Like I said in that last post, I’m really just focusing on getting out onto the roads during the week. And this week, I only got out on Tuesday and Thursday. I don’t feel bad about this at all. Those are the days when I have class that starts later on and I can get up and run before class. On Wednesdays it’s hard to make it work; I have obligations until 4:30 and am usually about to keel over from being wiped at that point in the day. If I can squeeze it in somewhere during the day I’ll go for it but finding that time is usually pretty hard. Next week I’m going to plan with some of the people I’ve been running with and maybe that will force me to go, even if I am tired. We’ll see.

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Earlier this fall I posted about some of my goals for running. And one of them was getting back to running farther distances, namely back to 10-milers as a long run. Well last Saturday I did just that. It felt pretty fantastic and I’m still surprised I did that, but here I am. I managed to cut 15 minutes off of my 10-miler from my half-marathon training run which bodes really well. I’m pumped. I’ve been working pretty hard on hills (more on that later) and it’s super gratifying to see my time decrease by 1:30 for EACH MILE. Hell yeah. I think the most exciting part of all of this is that I wasn’t trying really hard to get that time. I know that I’ve done a much better job about not walking as much while I’m eating my gels but I wasn’t expecting that. Side note: it’s a little (read: a lot) easier to run while eating gels that aren’t 6 months old. Who knew?!

Being at this level of conditioning is super exciting for me because I really had intended to keep my fitness level up after my half marathon in June but July ended up being a pretty low key month (read I barely ran) thanks to “recovery,” which I pretended took a lot longer than it did, physically. That being said, after my race I was super proud of myself, but a little sick of running according to a plan that was made in March and HAVING to stick to it. Running was getting boring for me. But now I’m pretty fired up thanks to races, interesting goals, and flexibility. Right now, if someone asked me to run a half with them in 2 weeks, I would (more than) happily agree! I didn’t think of it as training this time around; instead it was just the natural progression of my running. I have a half planned for next spring, but I’m excited to know that it’s not going to be a stretch to do that and it won’t involve 3 months of training. Being able to just go out and run for 2 hours if I feel like it is a pretty incredible feeling and something that I want to be able to do not because a calendar says I have to but because I want to and just feel like it.

Now even though I love my life not being dictated by a calendar, there is one thing (aside form just wanting to) that is really pushing me forward to keep myself out there and keep churning out those long runs. The last of those goals that I made is to log 500 miles for the rest of this year. To be clear, 500 miles is something I was really working towards last year (and was slated to finish 600) but then what was diagnosed as a sprained ankle but turned out to be a partial tendon tear kind of royally messed that up. I know that for so many people 500 miles could be the sum of 5 or 6 weeks of running, but that’s not where I’m at. While being a college student has its perks (ok, a lot of perks) a schedule that let’s me run for a long time during the week is not one of them. For the record, sleeping a lot is not one either.

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This week I ran as much as I had energy for during the week and now I’m basing my long run on how much farther I need to go to get to the average miles needed each week. So tomorrow morning happens to be a nine-mile morning. I know that this will get me to the goal of 500, but I also know that if I keep doing this, I will lose most of the conditioning I’ve gained thanks to increasing distances. I’m hoping that this will only be the “I didn’t run enough this week how much more do I need” kind of thing when I have a lot going on and not an every week type of deal.

Another great thing about being in good shape, I’m excited about hard runs. Specifically, hilly runs. Something about hills lately makes me want to sprint. During my last couple of races, I knew that it would be easiest for me to start walking when I’m tired and my legs feel it and my lungs are just starting to feel it. Instead I tell myself that the hills will be over the faster I run them, and suddenly I’m at the top and stopping to catch my breath doesn’t make sense once I’m past the hard part. Physiologically this means I’m getting better at recovering while still exerting a lot of energy, which is crazy exciting and can really only mean good things. Mentally, it means I’m pushing myself when I need to push myself and being able to recognize those moments when I’m still in them is so important.

So I guess if someone wanted the short blog post about running, it would say something like “pretty great, but let me do better.” That’s just kind of the place where I’m at with running. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m incredibly happy where I am but I know that being proud of myself for getting here doesn’t mean I have to stay here. Why shouldn’t I want to be better and work harder?

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2 thoughts on “Goals: A Study in Past Improvement and Future Motivation

    • Thanks! I didn’t realize it at the time but the more I have thought about it the more I realize how much work went into it! Super excited to beat it in the (near) future!

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