On a recent long run, I took the time to think about the marathon. I mean, REALLY think about it. Now that the snow has dissipated (I'm hoping permanently, but this is Michigan, after-all), it's a lot easier to get out there and think clearly. With the snow, it was always "Wow, I'm running so slow but I feel like I'm exerting so much effort!" So it's especially nice to have clear roads for a clear head.
It's important to have goals when striding into a storm like this. Without goals, how do you have anything to work for, to hope for? I encourage all of you, whether you're running a marathon or training for your first 5k, to set some goals for yourself. The tricky thing with me and goals is, of course I don't like to be disappointed. Who does? So I figure, the more goals I set, the less likely I am to be disappointed if I don't meet ALL of them.
GOAL #1: MAINTAIN A GOOD ATTITUDE
I have had a notorious "hit or miss" attitude this winter. It has ranged from, "Wow, what a terrific speed workout!" to "I hate that it's mile 15 and I'm all by myself because the rest of my team is so much faster than me, wah ,wah wah...." I have, admittedly, been very had on myself. No more of that. The time has come to focus on myself, not every other runner I know. I can only do the best "I" can do, not the best "everyone else" can do. I have trained hard, I have overcome obstacles, I'm doing well. And I will keep doing well.
GOAL #2: FINISH THE DAMN THING
This may seem like an obvious one, but hell, I've never ran 26.2 miles before. I could drop into a puddle of my own sweat in mile 23. So yes, I would like to run across the finish line. But I will also walk across the finish line. Or cartwheel across it. Or maybe crawl across it. Or piggy-back across it? As long as I get across it.
GOAL #3: FINISH IN FOUR TO FOUR AND A HALF HOURS
Do I think I can finish this thing in 4.5 hours? Yes. 4.15 hours? Probably. 4 hours? Maybe. I think this is a good window of goal for me to feel like I'm comfortably pushing myself without making outlandish promises I can't keep.
GOAL #4: BE PROUD OF MYSELF
This may seem another obvious choice. But from beginning runners to experienced ones, I think it's really easy to fall into the trap of knocking yourself down for "not being good enough". The fact of the matter is- if you lace up your sneakers and walk 5 minutes on the treadmill, you're a winner. If you're running a 14 minute pace, you;re running, and you're a winner. You don't have to qualify for Boston or get a medal to win. You just have to put your mind to something, whether marathon or 5k, and push your limits. Believe in yourself. And be proud of your effort, and your accomplishments.
"The challenge of a significant physical journey on foot unleashes some primitive connections to our identity as human beings." ~ Jeff Galloway, Marathon runner