Flexible Running Goals

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The end of a 12-mile run the other day.
I’ve been a runner for 10 years, a marathoner for almost 5. I love long distance running and all the challenges it entails. One of the challenges of being a runner includes setting realistic goals and reaching them.

When I started running, I was so happy about being able to complete my runs that I didn’t really set any performance goals. My goals were attendance goals, for example, I set a goal of running four 5Ks one summer. Once I accomplished that, I moved on to training for a 10K. I started marathon training shortly after. Oh, please don’t be like me and go from a 10K to 42K. I recommend you increase your mileage slowly.

In those days, I would get to the start line and people would ask me, “what is your goal?” And I’d tell them, I just want to finish and have fun. They would give me get the craziest looks! I have now learned to ignore outsider's opinions about my running. There's wisdom in knowing myself and accepting my own goals.

A few years after that, I strayed away from my “run for the joy of it goals.” I paid quite the high price for that mistake. Setting unrealistic, time based goals does not work for me at all. I’m glad to report, I’m back on the “run for fun plan.” What a joy!

My first marathon was perfect. I had no clue what I was getting myself into so I couldn’t back off. My personal best happened at my first marathon and I am still to run a marathon that fast. I'm okay with that.

No one tells you that life happens while you are reaching your long distance running goals. I’ve suffered losses, I ran through grief, worries, sickness, pain (as in feelings), you name it. I clearly remember being so stressed out one season that all I could manage was to run, drink plenty water and get enough sleep. Nutrition was out of the picture for me. I kept running but it was very difficult because my weight was on the heavier side. Persistence was the key during those years.

God was good to me nonetheless. I was able to do some cool things only He could provide. I’m eternally thankful that at my lowest, I learned that my value did not come from how fast I can run. God established my value a long time when He sent my Savior Jesus to save me and give me abundance of life.

Life kept happening and I kept running. I never gave up on getting back to that "run for joy place." I knew I had to adjust a lot of things in life. I can’t control when problems come into my life but I can control how I react to them.

Last year, I decided it was time to take control of my nutrition. Losing 20 pounds took a lot of weight off my joints. Running is easier, joyful.

I decided I wasn’t going to be selfish about my goals but I was going to open my arms to embrace others runners who like me, wanted encouragement to run. I lead a neighborhood running group a few times a week. The goal is to provide a place for people to run during the week and reach their goals.

I learned that I find joy in helping others reach their goals. I had no idea of the great joy that comes from seeing others accomplish their goals. This entire process has blessed me tremendously.

I have reached my running goal for the year before I thought I would reach it. My friends keep pushing me towards excellence and I hope I am doing the same for them.

Running is not about bragging about how fast I am. I am well aware that there will be always someone faster or slower than me out there.

Running is for joy. Running is for God, who gave me this gift can be glorified. Running is for friends. I treasure the bond we created over years of training, sweat and support. Running is for health. I appreciate all the benefits I enjoy.

My flexible running goal is to run for a long time. But let it be for joy and fun.