Sunday, 4 September 2016

On resetting your goals

In March 2014, I ran my first half marathon.
I'd only started running the previous June, but I trained hard for 5 months.
I struggled through 13 of the most painful miles of my life.
My goal had been under 3 hours - a goal that I felt sure I would hit, in fact I was hoping for around 2:45  - but I struggled across the finish line at 3 hours and 2 minutes.
I was disappointed, defeated. I swore I would never run the distance again.

But as you probably know, I did. Of course I did.
Just over a year later I signed up for my first full marathon.
And signed up for a half midway through my training to break down that overwhelming goal.

I'd had a better year of running. I was finally get faster, parkrun times were tumbling, PBs were being achieved, mile times dropped from starting with elevens to starting with tens to starting with nines. I fell back in love with running. And soon I had a new goal.
I knew that no matter what happened - baring a broken leg or terrible accident on the course, I would be guaranteed a new half marathon PB.

When I started training I was aiming for a goal time of 2 hours 30, which soon became 2 hours 20 and I eventually settled on a goal of 2 hours 15, which I knew was achievable. The goal that I told everyone if they asked. But I had a secret goal in my head, a goal of 2 hours 10, which I knew I could achieve if the conditions were right.

And in the end, they were. I flew round the course in a happy little daze. I trudged up hills and flopped my way down them. I passed the 2 hour 10 pacers at mile 9 and knew I was on for a brilliant race. I smiled the whole way round.

And I hit my goal. I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 8. I hit both my goals and improved my PB by 54 minutes.

And then I ran a marathon.
And that was wonderful and painful and emotional and exhausting and brilliant all at the same time.
I hit my goal then too, not even checking my official time until I was on the way home, because after 26.2 miles, 7 of which had felt like trudging through treacle, and after losing 5 minutes queuing for the toilet, I really didn't care.
I scraped my goal of 4 hours 30 with 4:29:45.

And then, of course, my body was aching for a new goal.
Despite what was said back in 2014, the half marathon has become my favourite distance - a 10K is too fast, a marathon requires a lot of training and time - but a half marathon is the perfect mix of endurance and training and patience. So of course, I signed up for another.

My goal was always just to get a PB.
2 hours 5, 2 hours 6, 2 hours 7.
Whatever. 
Just a PB.

I didn't let myself even consider the idea of a sub-2 hour half. Despite taking 54 minutes off my last half marathon time, I knew 8 minutes was a big chunk of time to take off. I was happy with my PB goal, and decided that my next half marathon after this, would be the one to tackle sub-2 hours.

But then, miraculously, I ran a 54:47 in the Great Manchester Run, and suddenly I could taste a sub-2 hour half marathon.
Putting this 10K time into a calculator worked my estimated half marathon time out to be 2 hours 40 seconds. Surely with some speed training and intervals and tempo runs I could beat those 40 seconds?

And that's how the sub-2 hour half marathon got into my head.
It's so close, but yet so far away.
I know I'm not quite there yet.
But I also know there's a tiny chance it could happen.
But I know there's an even bigger chance that if I let myself think about it, I'll be disappointed on the day. Disappointed with a 2 hours 3 minutes, or a 2 hours 2 minutes, even though that would be a good 5 minute PB.

But lately I've come to realise that it probably won't happen.
That I need to reassess my goals.
I need to remember that 2 years ago I was running a 3 hour half marathon.
It's so hard to let go, but the idea of being disappointed with what will likely be a great time is awful.

I know I need to reset my thinking.
But I know the pressure I put on myself. And I know I'll be disappointed with a few seconds or a few minutes or a slight moment of exhaustion or weakness.
I know I need to be happy with a PB, whatever that is.
And I know if I hit a PB, my hard work will be worth it.
I just wish I didn't have that 2 hour mark dancing around in my head, tempting me.

I know there will always be another race, there will always be another chance.
I know I've worked hard, I've trained hard, and I need to accept that I'm not quite there yet.
I don't want to be disappointed.

But how do you reset your goals?

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