Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mama On The Run: Re-Defining the Goals

Earlier this year, I said I wanted to rock out some races this year, namely the Easter Sun Run 10K and the upcoming Prairie Fire spring marathon. I focused entirely on time and wanted to push myself after an up-and-down 2015. (Meaning: the race would equal rocking out if it resulted in a PR)

I've been thinking through my up-and-down winter training and less-than-ideal performance at last week's first race of the year, and I want to re-define those goals from a few months ago.

First off, I know that a time doesn't define me. And I also know that one less-than-stellar race doesn't mean the rest of the year is going to go this way. I'm not throwing my goals away...I'm simply re-defining them and re-focusing my training and racing efforts.

Truth be told, I haven't felt like my strong running self since before my emergency surgery a year ago. I've had good runs here and there - even pushed through a marathon in tough weather conditions and ran a refreshing and strong "naked" 10K to wrap up 2015 - but overall I've felt off. I haven't been able to push through the pain threshold like I once did. I've been slower in training runs, opting to take more walk breaks. My left hip has been sore and has caused me annoying, nagging pain ever since surgery. 

(Side note: A year into chiropractic treatment, my doc is working on my body as it related to my surgery - focusing not only on the on-and-off-again hip pain, but the area that I had my surgery. I've also been researching other factors to the pain, such as my shoes and form. I'm hopeful for continued healing and progress this coming year!)

I magically thought the pain and running blahs would all go away and by the time Easter weekend rolled around, I'd go from about 75% to 100% overnight and run a PR rockstar race.

Yeah, about that....I ran one of my slowest times for that race that I've ever done. Ever - pre-kids, post-kids, even slower than when I was 13 weeks pregnant with Brax. 

Despite the slow time, I can't say that I was really upset, which is very unlike me. I didn't dwell on it. Sure, I was upset and competitive me knew I could have pushed myself a bit more. But to the point of a PR that morning? Nope. Because deep down, I knew my finish time was pretty close to where my fitness was at that present state. (It also helps that once you cross the finish line, you immediately track down your sweet kidlets and run with them in the 2-mile race!)

Dissecting the race - like almost all of my races in my 10-year racing life - and my too-quick start once again failed me. Pre-surgery me used to be able to get over the fast start and push through the pain to the end (despite how crappy it felt); present me cannot do this anymore. Instead of running through the pain and not thoroughly enjoying a race much past Mile 2, I need to train and race smarter. 

This comes after a punch-in-the-gut Coach Jenny podcast I listened to this week. Many of you have heard me sing CJ's praises over and over again. About how she's so relatable (and lovable!), her plans are realistic, and her heart is so caring and inspiring as she continually works with others to become their best selves. A large part of her training and racing plans include running by color. I've followed her plans for years, know the color plan by heart, and yet while I understood it and said I'd try it, I would do it reluctantly a time or two, only to toss it out the window and revert back to my old, stubborn habits that I've been stuck on this past decade of running and racing.

Yeah, about that... (again!)

Four months into 2016, I am re-committing the running goals to this simple term that parallels my overall mantra this year: awareness. It's simple, not defined by PRs and time - though I'm hopeful that I will finish strong in many races to come - and it's focused on listening to my body in its present state. I want to stop basing my successes on emotional factors ("I can't believe how slow my mile splits are today, so this run was terrible!" or "Great - another chance at a PR in a race shot!").

I'm hopeful and excited to take on this new challenge - and also realize how difficult it's going to be to strip away the past 10 years of how I used to train and race while peeling away those super-type-A tendencies. 

I took on the challenge for the first time this morning. I took off for a long training run with awareness rolling through my mind. I set out nice and easy, picking up the pace after about 60 minutes and ended up running negative splits the final two miles with a training time spot-on to what my training times should be right now. It was the best 11-mile run I've had in months and not because I met my time goal, but because I didn't even look at my watch until an hour in - really to look at distance and know it was time to head back home. How freeing!

Here's to re-defined goals, new challenges, and rockstar races ahead - with or without the PRs! 

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