goal-free running

Time for a running confessional: I’ve hit a bit of a motivation plateau over the last month or so. In early February, right after I ran the Surf City 1/2 Marathon in California, I was feeling pretty unstoppable. I’d been aiming to finish under 2:00 hours and rocked that goal with about 5 minutes to spare, which felt incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I immediately decided that I could probably shave another 5 minutes off my next 1/2 marathon. And by immediately, I mean immediately. The race wrapped up Sunday morning, I spent Monday pouring over different training schedules, and by Tuesday, I was doing the first run in one of Hal Higdon’s intermediate half marathon training schedules. For the next couple of months, I was the definition of a disciplined runner. I hit every single time target and barely missed a work out for 7 or 8 weeks.

Right around late March, though, my discipline started to waver. This was partly due to the fact that I had a friend in town for a week and took some vacation time myself in order to spend as much quality time with him as possible. In true vacation fashion, I decided to nix any and all workouts during his stay. Then I decided I was enjoying this nice little hiatus, so I took a couple more days off. Then it was rainy and grey for a few days, so I took a couple more…. By then, it was a full two weeks since I’d run, and I was feeling like a guilty little kid. So I hopped back on the wagon and did a 10-miler that Sunday. It was a bit slower than usual, but ultimately, it felt good to be back in the swing of training.

Except that it turns out I wasn’t. While I haven’t gone on complete hiatus again, the past two weeks have been sporadic with regards to staying on track. While I’m diligent about the speed runs, I missed some short workouts in between and neglected my long run this past weekend again. (In fairness, I did play Ultimate on Saturday and run a 4-mile NYRR race on Sunday.)

Mentally, I’ve spent the past few weeks beating myself up a bit for not sticking with the final stretch of this training regiment. This morning, though, after a particularly enjoyable 5-miler over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, I realized something: I initially got hooked on this whole running thing because it just felt good. I’m really proud that I’ve been able to improve my speed by about a minute since my first race 9 months ago, but I think it’s time to break away from a set routine for a while. In a couple of weekends, I’ll run 13.1 miles in Long Branch and take in some (hopefully) gorgeous weather on a beachside course. I doubt I’ll set a PR, but after doing a couple of these already, I’ve no reservations that I’ll be able to finish the race. After that, I’ll take it week by week, and do what feels fun. If I’m in the mood for a long Sunday run, awesome. If not, no worries. Late spring and early summer offer some great NYRR races. I’ve already signed up for a few of these to work towards my resolution to complete the 9 + 1 race qualifiers for the 2012 marathon, and while I’ll continue to keep track of my races over on the Pavement Pounding page, I’m going to steer clear of setting any time or pace goals for a while.

I guess my new running goal, then, is to be goal free for a while.

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4 responses to “goal-free running

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