Time, pace, goals. Enough is enough

Not that long ago someone asked me why I run.  Simple enough, right?

no.  I had a hard time answering that.  If you would have asked me 6 months ago I think I could have answered with ease.   What’s the difference between 6 months ago and now? A whole hell of a lot.

Rewind to when I was training for a couple 1/2 marathons.  I made sure to long run once a week but I was religious about lifting (body pump) 3 times a week, yoga once a week and running any distance/time/pace 4 more days a week.  I had a schedule…but not really.  I went by how I felt.  Ironically enough I was running 40+ miles a week.  I was happy, I was fit and I was always sweaty.

If you asked me why I loved to run I would tell you simply “It makes me feel good.”  It still does, don’t get me wrong.  With taking this week easy one thing I noticed is I love to sweat.  The sweatier the better.  Other than sweating I love the sense of accomplishment, I love being outdoors, I love that runners high…All of it.  That’s the same 6 months ago as it is now but there is something different about my current love of running.

I am quickly approaching the point where I am getting nuts about running and not in a good way.  

My coach said something to me today that kind of knocked me off my feet.

“My point is that there’s a fine line between letting a goal motivate you to achieve great things (good), and a goal dominating you (bad).”

Goals, times, numbers, paces…. all of that is in the forefront of my brain rather that what is important, and how I love to run.

Every time I go out for a run I am crunching numbers, I am calculating and scheming and typically staring at the pace on my watch.  Sure, I am just coming off a pretty serious training cycle but is it possible to train hard and still not get wrapped up in the numbers of it all?  I am being completely, 100% dominated by what my goal is.

Next weekend is the Runners World Half Marathon in Bethlehem.  I signed up for this race when it first opened.  Weekend full of seminars held by amazing and experienced runners followed by a 13.1 that is organized by the greatest source of all things running?  I would be insane to pass this up.

Except, even just a couple days ago, when I think about this race I think…maybe I will shoot for a sub 1:40.  I mean, my PR isn’t too far off that, I am in shape and I have been training so why not.

What’s wrong with me?  Why does every race, every run have to become a carefully planned and calculated goal.  What happened to running for fun?   What happened to going out there and just enjoying the time on my feet, the time with nothing but the fresh air, open roads and myself?

I feel there is pressure on me.  Pressure to perform. Pressure to pull big numbers.  I feel like people hear how I typically talk about running alllll the time so they expect me to be this great athlete.  Well, in my head a great athlete wouldn’t be ok with a 1:58 half…I need to try hard, I need to not let anyone down and at least try for a PR.

No.  The pressure I feel all comes from me.  No one expects anything from me, except me.  And you know what, if they do then they can suck it.

I haven’t run since Sunday.  I am giving myself as much time as I can to let my legs recover from the beating they took so I can come back strong, fresh and uninjured.

I am going to run the half next weekend. I have a bunch of friends and family members running.  A couple of them will finish their first 1/2 marathon and I want to make sure it is as much of an amazing experience as my first 1/2 was.  I want it to be about them and their hard work and their huge accomplishment.  I want the pressure and focus off me. That pressure and focus is something that comes from me…but eliminating that is definitely easier said than done.

I am making myself a promise.  I am making the next week of running all about focusing on not focusing.  I want to run by feel. I want to run because I love it, even if I am running a slower than I would like pace… I am going to run just to run. Not to reach a goal or hit a target or a specific number.

And most importantly I am planning on running a race that isn’t about me.  All pressure off me.  Pressure from myself and even the imaginary pressure the imaginary people put on me.  This race and the next few weeks are about running for the fun of it and nothing more.


**note: i am clearly not working out as hard as i have been and have too much time on my hands to sit and think and stew. along with too much free time I have the post-race crazies, which is a common thing.  Similar to the taper crazies but I also hear it is way worse when you miss a goal…  

** another note:  I am convinced the running/blogging community is the best one out there.  The advice and support I have gotten over the past week and past few days is amazing. Complete strangers….reaching out to me or returning emails…letting me open up to them and in return feeding me with crucial and much appreciated advice.  You know who you are, and I think you are the shit.  the end


8 thoughts on “Time, pace, goals. Enough is enough

  1. Our stories seem ironically similar in some ways. A few months ago I did my first half marathon, and I went into it on a whim without a pace goal. That was one of my favorite days ever; I completely fell in love with the half marathon distance… so then I was really pumped to do the Rock ‘n’ Roll half in Philadelphia last month, and I set a goal of 1:45. which I missed by exactly 1 minute 30 seconds. I was really bummed at first, but once I got over the fact that 1:46:30 wasn’t 1:45, I was pretty happy with it. And now I’m doing the Runner’s World half, too!!! And also planning to run it with an open mind. It would be so cool to see you there!

    • its easy to get wrapped up in it…but it is also a good thing to know when we need to take a step back and chill the F out! I am really looking forward to that race too! I just checked out the elevation map…definitely going to be a fun run!

  2. Great post! We all get wrapped up in letting our goals dominate us. I haven’t raced a half marathon in well over a year (yikes)! I’ve run about 6 for fun with friends and I really enjoyed them. GO GARMINLESS. It sounds hard, don’t panic, just do it! Put on som ejams and enjoy the festival 🙂 you deserve some QT with the road in a casual way after your serious kick ass training cycle! You are an amazing runner and clearly accomplished a lot in a short time. Give your body a break and let it fall back in love with running, not just running fast!

  3. Love this post! I’m running a just-for-fun race this weekend, but about every five minutes new thoughts crop up, like “what if I just ran slightly faster than a for-fun pace” or “what if I just sprint the last few miles.” There’s always something! But I think it just shows that we love challenging ourselves and making the most of our natural abilities. But I love your coach’s quote. The line is so fine that sometimes I can’t see it at all!:) And that’s when I start convincing myself that even if it’s not fun or it hurts (the bad hurt, not the good hurt) I have to do it anyway. You have a smart coach!

    • I agree, I think he is pretty smart too 😛

      good luck this weekend! And not with the run part (since we all know you’re awesome at that), with the having fun part! I am doing a half and I am considering going Garminless….although it makes my heart palpitate a little. eek!

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