I often tell my friends that running is my longest relationship. Although it's my favorite and healthiest relationship, it isn't without its challenges. Like all relationships, running takes work. I work to improve my speed, I work to feel strong, and most importantly, I work to keep up my love of running.
As I get ready to begin training for my next marathon, I've decided to take a new approach. Sure, I'll be logging endless miles and incorporating cross training into my weekly routine. But this time, I've set three new running goals for myself to keep the relationship a little more exciting.
Try a new distance
One might say I have a soft spot for half-marathons. I've lost track of the exact number I've completed, but I'm pretty sure it's hovering around 20. Needless to say, I've been fairly consistent with the types of races I sign up for. This year, I'm challenging myself to try something new. Years ago, after my first few races, I got it in my head that in order to be a "real" runner, I need to be running at least a half-marathon distance, if not a full marathon. Although I do enjoy both of those distances and the discipline it requires to cross the finish line after 26.2 miles, I now know I'm entirely wrong in my definition of a "real" runner. If you run, you're a runner. So, why would I ever limit myself and my enjoyment of running because of a distance? There are challenges at every distance, and I plan on embracing every one of them.
Have fun with training
I may enjoy the discipline it takes to train for a marathon, but it's not always rainbows and butterflies. A few times, I've found myself pushing myself so far that I've begun to resent the sport. So this time, I've decided to enjoy running again. Yes, I'll still cross off my training runs and stick to my schedule, but not every run will be a fast one for me. Not every run will be my best — and I'm OK with that. This time, I've set a goal of finding one fun thing about every run. Whether it's the route I take, the weather I enjoy, the friends I meet up with after, or even the new running shoes I treat myself to — I'm currently adding the MapMyRun™ equipped UA HOVR™ Sonic 3 W8LS Running Shoes ($120) to my wish list — I've made a promise to myself to always find a silver lining in every run.
This may be the most important of the goals I've set for myself. I've been eager to hit certain time goals almost since day one of racing. But once I stopped and thought about why I wanted to hit those particular goals, I realized that it wasn't necessarily to better myself as a runner. More often than not, it was because I wanted to beat a friend. While healthy competition is good and can be a great motivator, for me, it failed to be that. I often found myself so down if I didn't meet my goal. It didn't matter how hard I worked, if I wasn't better than so-and-so, then my race was a failure. And that sort of comparison simply wasn't why I started running and shouldn't be why I continue to run. At the end of the day, it's just me crossing that finish line. So no matter what my time is, I'm going to let myself be proud of a finish regardless.