What can you do now?
by on Monday, April 14, 2014  (2 comments)


I hear a lot of people say "if only I had more time" or "when my life eases up, I'll worry about my running goals". That's all good and well...if your life is ever going to ease up. However, what are you doing in the meantime?

Most of us have very busy lives. We have jobs, families, social commitments and many other things that make getting in the "perfect" training impossible. To paraphrase Voltaire, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Don't think about what would be perfect and how you can't attain that, think about what you can do right now and how good you can do on that.

You can't run X miles per week? Don't worry about it. Can you run X - 10 miles per week? Maybe X - 20? You have so much stress in your life that you can only manage one workout per week without breaking down? Then do that one workout. You may not get the same results but you will come close. You'll definitely come much closer than if you just give up.

So get out there. Run 5 days a week if you can't run 6. Run 40 miles a week if you can't run 50. Run 13 mile long runs if you can't run 15. Maybe you'll have to adjust your goals but what happens to your goals if you simply give up?

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Sometimes I think you write these things for me. I'm always thinking how much more I could run if I had more time. And I'm definitely one of those people who has given up on goals because I couldn't train the way I wanted. I can be very driven and motivated to push through a hard training cycle even with my busy life, but I've only ever been able to do it for a few months before I run out of steam. Sometimes I make it to the goal and more often I throw in the towel and quit. I'm trying to change my all or nothing way of thinking when it comes to training by accepting my limitations and adjust my goals. It works. But it's hard when you know how much better you could be if you just had the time. I'm learning to live with "adjusted" goals and I'm happy I'm not giving up just because I'm not able to train the way I would like.

My way of dealing with the adjusted goals is to create other goals besides race times. For me right now the main goal is to run consistently for at least one year. In my 14 years of running I've never been able to accomplish that. Today I am on 230 days of running every day. It isn't the same as a PR, but it feels like a pretty good accomplishment. My other way of adjusting my goals is to try racing new distances. No matter what time I run, it will be a PR! I'm training for some trail races now, something new for me, which is proving to be very challenging. Especially with the never ending winter we've had!

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I won't deny that I draw inspiration for posts from the runners I coach but, in all honesty, this inspiration came from elsewhere. It was a combination of a discussion between runners I don't coach and my own experiences.

After setting PRs for over a decade, it was a tough transition for me to change my mindset and remain competitive when the PRs were no longer happening. It's a fact of life. If you're going to be a lifelong runner and you're going to live a long life, at some point all your PRs will have been in the past. For me, it was largely because priorities changed and I could no longer train like I once did. However, once I accepted that I couldn't be the runner I once was but I could still be competitive at whatever level I could manage, I found new motivations.

For some of us such as myself, those motivations will remain competition related. For others, maybe something else sparks that fire, such as your desire to build that year-long streak (of course, I still see some of that competitive fire in you also). Some people might decide to explore different experiences as you're also doing. I played around with the idea of trail racing and with the idea of ultras but neither sparked that fire for me and that's fine because I'm having fun with shorter road races right now. Maybe some day, I'll find the spark in chasing marathon goals or trying ultras or trail races again. If and when that happens, I'll embrace that.

Of course, now I'm heading into another topic that I have on my list for potential future posts. Maybe I should be careful so I don't waste a perfectly good post in the comments. :)

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