Lessons Learned Trying to Achieve My Goal

Well, I’m over 75% completed my goal to run 500 miles this year! I actually hit 75% a few days before the end of August, so technically I was an entire month ahead of schedule. Now I just need to run 30 miles a month (by the end of the year) to finish my goal. But I plan on finishing by the end of October, for reasons I’ll get into.

As of today, I’m at 389.26 miles, which, when I think about it, is a lot for me (maybe most people). When I decided to set this goal, I thought, “10 miles a week, that’s nothing.” Well, I can tell you, for a busy 36 year-old, who never really ran on a regular basis, this what much more than nothing.

389 miles

Since I’ve started, there have been a few things that I’ve learned. I doubt that they will apply to everyone, but for someone like me, perhaps they will give you a bit of insight.

1. Running is hard…

Okay, this one probably doesn’t apply to you true runners out there. You know who you are. You run 10 miles like it’s nothing, you sprint by me running 7 minute miles, and you’re most likely training for your next marathon. Well guess what? That’s not me. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure all of this running I’ve been doing has made me a better runner. Sure, I’ve pushed myself much harder than I had in the past, but honestly, I still struggle every time I’m out there. I’ve been able to run slightly longer distances (some times), but most of the time I finish a run and I’ve improved my time none, and I’m still as tired as I was when I ran months ago.

2. Motivation is key…

There are times, lots of them, when the last thing I want to do is run, especially in the morning. There were times (especially in February and March when it was bitter cold and snowy) that I started out the window and the thought of having to run was almost soul crushing. But I kept telling myself, “I’ll run a lot more when the spring and summer come.” This was procrastinating a bit, sure, but since I had the whole year, I figured it wouldn’t be to detrimental. This did two important things: 1) it prevented me from beating myself up when I missed a day of running, and 2) it gave me the flexibility to only run went I felt like it. The combination of these two things ultimately prevented me from getting discouraged and starting to resent (or hate) running altogether. Once the spring came, I had some distance to make up. But it was a lot easier to get out and run once the weather was nice.

3. Take care of yourself…

This one is probably obvious, but there were days that I just couldn’t run. It might have been because I was traveling and didn’t have the time, or because I was physically unable to. I remember one time were I was sick for an entire weekend (I still think it was food poisoning), and I could barely get out of bed, let alone run. There was another time that I did something to my neck and it hurt to turn my neck. There were times when I could have pushed myself through the pain and endured with no regard to myself, but every time I did, I paid for. I quickly learned that taking care of myself was the most important thing. In the long run, being healthy is the ultimate goal, so there was no sense in hurting myself just to achieve an arbitrary goal.

4. Running takes time…

I did the math, well before I even started. 10 miles a week, 10 minutes a mile, an hour and 40 minutes a week. Pretty simple, right? No, not really. The reality is, I can’t rely on my 2.88 mile loops to reach my goal. Even if I was able to do my 10 miles a week, that would be getting out 4 times. When you factor in getting ready (maybe 10 minutes), plus the run (no more than 30), then cooling down (another 10 to 20), you’re looking at almost an hour each morning. That doesn’t seem like much, but I still need to make lunches for the kids, take a shower, do the other 20 responsibilities I have each morning. Getting up early is all fine and good, but trying to run 4 times a week was consuming me. It was ALL I seemed to have time for. Plus, it took time away from other things I like to do (like road biking). So I started running longer distances. But in order to do that, I had to drive to a bike trail that is nearby. I would run 5.6 miles, but all in all, it was a 2 hour endeavor. This was a sacrifice for me. It was (and still is) time away from my family, time away from other hobbies, time away from work that I wanted/needed to be doing.

78% of the way there

 

I still have a long way to go. 110 miles is no joke, but I’ve got time and I’ve stayed healthy. But I want to get this over with. Not because I hate running, but more so because I really do love it. Once this is done, then running no longer becomes an obligation, but instead something I choose to do.

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