“Compare where you are to where you want to be and you’ll get nowhere.” – Sara Bareilles
With the start of a New Year comes the resolve to reach certain goals. We set goals and even when they’re not met, we feel a sense of accomplishment for at least trying. 2017 has me reaching for a goal that was so far off my radar last year it’s almost ridiculous. What is it? I will run 1000 miles this year. I won’t even call it a goal because in my mind it’s already done. I will do this and share with my friends far and wide on social media each step of the way.
So why this goal and why now? It is a big deal to me because in January 2016, I was unable to even run one mile without stopping. The first months of my running life in 2016 were not pretty and though I now wish I had documented it a bit more, I can understand why I chose not to at the time. Althought I was proud of myself, I wasn’t sure that anyone else should be I had all of the excuses in the world to be out of shape (2 children under the age of 3, a recent MS diagnosis, other family health concerns, etc.) but boy was I tired of being tired and I was convinced that it had more to do with lifestyle choices than circumstances.
My goal when I started? Consistency. I had no goal for distance or pace, only to put one foot in front of the other and MOVE. Morning wogs (walk/jog) with my toddler daughter in the stroller became a daily ritual and afternoon walks with my dog helped us both start to lose a few pounds. Oh yeah, weight loss. While losing weight was a noticeable side effect of my now yearlong habit, it was initially not the intent of my running journey.
Whether you’re interested in gaining stamina or losing weight, establishing a firm list of goals is important. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. When you’re starting off in the running world, it’s important to have both short-term and long-term goals. When my morning mile changed to 2 it was a big deal to me. I stuck with that for a while and when I felt ready to try for a 5k I went for it, not running the entire time for a long time, but accomplishing the 3.1 miles nonetheless. I remember jumping for joy and pumping my arms for no one to see when I hit 10k the first time. I was at the neighborhood park and no one saw me but the thing that was most important was that I had done it and I was going to celebrate.
2. Always remember to plan week-to-week according to the weather forecast so you know when you can enjoy being outdoors and when a treadmill might just have to do the trick. If planning for 1000 miles over the year, break those miles into smaller, more manageable short-term goals. Heck, break a 5-mile run into smaller segments (Like ‘in ½ a mile I get to turn-around to head home for that hot cup of coffee’).
3. Sign-up for races and put them on the calendar. This ties-in to the short/long-goals category. If I had not signed-up for a 10-mile race with my sister last October, my runs would not have increased in distance the way they did. I knew when the race was and I had a plan to successfully finish the race. The result: 2 hours 5 seconds. My goal: 2 hours. After the 10 mile race I figured another 3.1 was possible so signed-up for my first half-marathon!. My BRF (best running friend) and I completed our 1st half-marathon in December of 2016! We decided around mile 12 that we have no desire to know what the ‘other’ half feels like BUT gladly signed-up for another 13.1 once we crossed the finish line .
4. Subscribe/Follow/Like running pages/websites and learn all that you can. What do you do when you have side pain during a run? What are the best clothes for cold weather? How should you fuel before a long run? All of that information and more is out there just waiting for you to find it.
5. Combine strength training with running for even better results. Your legs are not the only body part that needs to be strong in running. Core strength is key and daily 10 minute routines can go a long way. Plank challenge, anyone?
6. Share your progress. The feedback will be encouraging! Do not beat yourself up for missing a run or having a ‘bad’ race. You put yourself out there and the wonderful thing with running is you can go whenever and wherever you want, starting over each time. Also write your accomplishments down! Being able to look back and read about how far you’ve come or look at photos motivates you to push even further
7. Reward yourself. Have your eye on that new pair of running shoes? Make them your reward for running ten miles! Although your reward does not have to be fitness related, sometimes a half marathon in Key West can be way too tempting.
As challenging as running can be, this piece has also been challenging to write. With setting, working toward, and ultimately reaching a goal, I am the kind of person who wants to share my progress. I appreciate encouragement and find a level of accountability each time I share, and I am inspired by other people on this journey.In fact, my sister (also living with MS) is the one who actually inspired me to start down my own path of running. So why the struggle with writing this article? That ties back to social media also. With each click of the mouse it is easy to find amazing accomplishments. I find myself cheering for the person who runs back-to-back-to-back marathons or scales the world’s tallest peaks, all while battling MS or another ailment themselves. I cheer but then compare and wonder if my 5k matters to write about. It does. Those amazing accomplishments were once someone else’s goal that was set, worked toward, and achieved and my goals DO matter just as much. Hopefully my progress will inspire someone else to work toward a goal as well!