No New Year’s Resolutions, Thank You
On a typical New Year's Eve, I have no goals.
It's like some kind of ritual. Every year as the holidays draw nearer, people turn their minds to what they want to accomplish in the new year and we start hearing about all the new year's resolutions. I'm not against them in any way; I just know that I don't stick to them and as I got older, I finally figured out why.
Setting goals is a good thing. Goals give direction; they give focus; they offer a sense of structure to a progressive plan. Ask me to set out some targets for things to achieve on January 1st, and if you're insistent enough, I'll throw a few things out. And dismiss them as soon as I go pour a glass of wine.
Wait, What? Don't You Have Goals?
Sure I do! Just not necessarily all the time. I actually like structure, but rarely enjoy it without flexibility. Part of this is probably down to my personality and the way I am. I was never one to follow the crowd. As a little kid I remember lining up at birthday parties or in a classroom and getting a choice of color or flavor for whatever was being dished out. I would watch carefully to see what everyone else wanted so that I didn't end up with the same thing. It looks like I never outgrew that; it must be ingrained in my nature.
New Year's Resolutions are very much the same. It's not that I don't like them or want them. I'll put my plans in place when I'm ready. It's just that everyone is doing them and many, out of a sense of obligation because it's ‘that time of the year.' My preference is to set a goal when something resonates with me or I spot a challenge that draws me in. There are too many other things keeping me busy during the holiday season to think about stuff like that.
So I don't have no goals. I just haven't decided what they are yet.
The 2017 Recap
2017 was a great year, both in my personal life and in my running. If you were following me a year ago, I don't need to spell out that almost nothing went to plan. And it was glorious, although not at the time.
It was a good year for personal growth and a whole lot of learning; some of it painful.
I did set some goals for last year. They didn't start at the new year, but I had a set of things I wanted to achieve. I resolved to get out and run more races, something I don't do more than a handful of times a year. In that latter part of 2016 I signed up for quite a few for the first half of 2017, including a few half marathons, a 15K and two marathons (one in January and the other in March).
It Started Out So Well
My marathon in Celebration in January went well. Somewhat typically, I went into training without a time goal and assessed things about eight weeks out. I wanted to finish in under four hours. Despite some GI issues that cost me around seven minutes in stops I managed a 3:28 chip time with some gas in the tank and feeling pretty good.
With ten weeks to the next one in March, I was ready to start training soon after recovery. The type of recovery I ended up struggling through was not at all what I anticipated.
Then It All Fell Apart
A week later what started out as a sharp lateral knee, hip and hamstring pain sent me to one specialist after another with no specific diagnosis. A general (and incorrect) reference was made to IT Band Syndrome and within a few weeks I went from running 26 miles to struggling to walk around the house. My first injury took me out for almost ten weeks and building back to my previous training mileage didn't really happen until the early summer.
It cost me all my spring races and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth about committing to events that won't work with you to transfer or defer race fees. By the time the June half marathon rolled around, I turned off the alarm on race day and went back to sleep.
Sitting out gave me way too much time to think, but it also gave me a fresh perspective on my approach to running. In March, I settled not so much on a goal (because I didn't trust plans too much at the time) but an approach to the rest of the year.
A leather bracelet from Momentum Jewelry, given to me as a gift the month before set the tone for how I was going to approach the rest of the year.
Don't be afraid of what might not work out. If you set goals, do it. Worrying about what might not work out isn't going to get you where you want to be. And so what if it takes longer to get there than you originally intended? If you set out to achieve something by the end of the year and it takes another six months or more, once you do it, you do it. That's not a fail. In fact, when you have to navigate and survive forced detours on the way to your destination, you usually arrive stronger and more sure of yourself.
I guess the bottom line is don't be afraid to commit. Sometimes we just need to shake up our mindset and straighten out our perceptions. We live in an age where witty little sayings are thrown around like cheap candy and many of these are powerful statements but they are diluted when heard so often that the core of the sentiment behind them is lost.
How many times have you been told: “Don't be afraid of failure”? That carries a lot of weight. But do you ever stop and think how it works for you in your situation right now? Hearing something over and over will become ingrained in you … only if you understand how it translates into your situation. It also doesn't exempt anyone from the feeling of disappointment when things don't go to plan.
Next time someone tells you to believe in yourself, think about what it really means to you. It's usually related to something you are going through or a challenge you're about to take. There are also times when for me, it simply means it's OK to be sad and disappointed for a while, but I know it is temporary.
Have Fun Doing Some Dumb Stuff
I had this great idea. It really was a great idea, but there were some oversights at the time of planning. I broke my ‘rule' about not traveling out of state for a race and signed up for the Las Vegas Marathon and 5K. A November marathon would have beautiful weather. It did!
What I realized as the official training season began was that all my training and peak mileage would work with the season into the hottest months in Florida. I learned to suck it up and actually enjoyed it. Even if my tank top gave me daily splashback!
That training didn't go to plan either. I started out thinking I'd shoot for a sub 3:15 finish. Trying to do 10 x 800's or a 20 mile run with the last six to eight miles at goal race pace in 90F and close to 100 percent humidity … Well that was another matter entirely. My life also got insanely chaotic as I started this blog and weeks later began a new job and some other projects my husband and I are working on. Most of my training came out of time that most sane people are sleeping.
I abandoned the time goal less than half way into training and really enjoyed it without the pressure. It gave me the freedom to take some risks and experiment with how my body responds to different types of training, recovery, food, rest days … I learned a lot last year; some through trial, but mostly through very rewarding error.
The name Carefree Runner really came out of my ignorant beginnings to the world of running. This is a post in it's own right, but if you haven't seen my first pair of running shoes, here they are. And yes, I did several 10 mile runs in these. I didn't know any better and I didn't die either.
I have a pretty loose approach to races and general disregard for expectations placed on me by others. When I run, I live in the moment. Races are about the people and the new friends I always hope to meet.
There is no such thing as a bad run. The ones that don't go that well are the ones that show I have the grit and courage to finish. The times I decide to abandon a run midway, there is always a good reason. I decided it was the right thing to do in the moment. Once I've made me decision, it's done. Mulling over it or feeling guilty is pointless and serves no benefit to me at all.
My journey through the unplanned hurdles in 2017 gave me a new insight into the importance of having freedom within any guidelines. While it's important to have some structure, willingness to stay there depends on whether I feel I can live within that structure or whether I'm being choked by it.
I don't bow to peer pressure. There will always be others who have expectations of you. That's not a bad thing. It usually means they place a lot of faith and belief in you and your abilities. Try not to twist it into something you can use to beat yourself up.
But equally important to remember:Don't chase someone else's dreams. You'll never own them if they aren't yours. Click To Tweet
Be free. Be You. Run Carefree.
All Those Good Things
Although last year did not go the way I thought it would, it was a much richer year than I could have wished for. It was an incredible year of personal growth and it's prepared me for another year of challenges and adventures
Here are my highlights:
- I finally started my blog, after setting it up in my head for way too long on my runs, but never getting around to doing it. My time out during my injury gave me time to do all the preparation work that I needed to get it set up.
- I made peace with postponing and changing my goals and plans to fit my life at any given time. Learning to cut myself some slack and acknowledge that I deserve the same courtesy I give to others without a second thought was a necessary step to take.
- I started working with The Run Experience. I've used their online coaching services and training plans for a couple of years now and after being very active in the community for a year or so, I formally joined the team in early summer last year. In short, I love it!
- You won't see me recommend or talk much about things I don't like. There are some running products that I love and won't be without. I have a couple of new ambassador programs for 2018 and I'm really excited about it because they are things I believe in, love and use daily. It's nothing new if you follow me on social media, but this year you'll see a more about my Knuckle Lights, and plenty more socks from Crazy Compression. There will also be some special discounts and giveaways coming up this year so stay in touch!
- I ran my first race away from home in November, cruising through a 5K and struggling through a marathon in Las Vegas. It was a really special experience and one I'd do again in a heartbeat. This was my first all out crash and burn due to lack of fuel. It wasn't at all what I expected, but there are no regrets at all!
Coming Up in 2018
If you've read through the first half of the post, you already know it's too early for me to commit to a string of goals for the year; let alone anything remotely impressive.
However, my calendar is not empty and my year isn't starting with a blank calendar.
I'm going to run the San Francisco Marathon in late July. It's a more challenging goal given the course and the area being known for it's hilly terrain. It's a little harder to do regular hill work on a similar scale in Florida so I'll have to get creative. My expectations are also realistic. This will not be a time goal race in any way at all. I have never been to San Francisco so the idea of taking my time and getting some photos on the course is really appealing.
I'm toying with the idea of doing a coaching certification, but I'm still playing with the idea and what I want to achieve out of it so I have not yet committed to this for certain, but I will be sure to keep you posted.
I would love to squeeze in a spring marathon, ideally before the end of April so that possibility remains open.
Another marathon for the early Fall is also playing on my mind and I'm leaning towards the Marine Corps Marathon, assuming I can get it or perhaps Savannah, Georgia if not. My mind is pretty open about it at this stage. You are welcome to suggest any of the major races like New York, Chicago and the like. I will thank you for your suggestions and decline.
Resolutions, yes or no?
So you can see that I am not at all against the idea of setting goals. I have mine and will have more as the year goes on. I'm just not tied to the layout of a calendar and don't care to be confined to a calendar year to achieve them. That works for me, but I know I'm the exception here. What are your goals for the new year? Leave me a comment and let me know. I love goals! Mine are just not as organized as yours are!