a shift in running goals

I’ve been running for just over three years now and a lot of what I’ve done in those three years has been focused on pushing myself to see where the boundaries are. Sometimes I sign up for races because it gives me a goal and reason to train harder. Often I sign up for a race because I’m looking for a way to challenge myself. And a few times I sign up for a race just because it’s fun.

This year I set a strong goal for myself: to run a half marathon every season. That goal has kept me running double digit long runs nearly every month of the year. It’s been fun and I’m glad I’ve kept myself up to the challenge but it’s starting to seem like work. With one more half marathon on the calendar, I’ve tried hard lately to mix up my training (as much as you can mix up the training when you’re going for a distance of 13.1 miles). Even so, it’s getting hard to work myself up for those long runs. Oh, I feel great when I’m done. Take yesterday for example, I rushed to squeeze in a 10 mile run (that technically came up .4 short) and the run felt fantastic. I felt fantastic all day because of it. But I still have four of those long runs to accomplish before race day. And after months and months of planning long runs, it’s just getting boring.

It’s time for a shift in my running priorities.

I don’t need to prove I can run a distance – I already have. I’m not going to get much faster than I am right now and I don’t know that I have it in me to push for speed anyway. I have never been interested in comparing my running to others, so I don’t have a drive to win an age group award. I think my running goals need to shift to just having fun.

I’ll still sign up for a handful of races because, for me, races are a lot of fun. I’m already signed up for two races next year: a marathon relay with some good friends (checking that off my list). And a half marathon race that just sounds like a blast to run. (I think I’ve convinced my sister to do it with me too – twice the fun!) That’s how I want to shift my focus, to finding a couple of races that just seem fun to do. Still proving to myself that I’ve got the drive and determination, but backing off on the constant push for more.

Maybe I’ll even go so far as to start running for a set number of minutes without caring how far or how fast I go. Taking long walks. Hopping on the bike without watching my pace. Changing up my workouts with more yoga and pilates. Just mixing it up instead of always pounding out the miles.

I’m ready to celebrate strength and fitness without a training plan. (But not for another month – I’ve got a couple tricks up my sleeve to accomplish first.)

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