The Running Post with a Surprise Ending

All around the run blog world “year in review” type posts are going up. I’m so happy for all of my friends who earned new PRs, trained for new distances and just generally smashed their running goals for 2016. If you had an awesome year, I am super proud of you!

When I look back at my own training log over the last eleven months I don’t see any exciting new PRs to cheer about, but that doesn’t mean my year as a runner hasn’t been meaningful.

Here are five important things I learned about myself as a runner this year:

 1. Races Aren’t Everything 

I used to think without having a race to train for I would just stop running. I thought I needed the allure of the finish line to push me out the door to train. I learned this year that somewhere along the way my mind shifted. I am no longer strictly a goal oriented runner.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of accomplishment a good training run or race brings out, but I also like de-stressing after a day of work, I like working up a sweat, I like being out in the fresh air, I like creating blog content :).

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I’ve always liked all of those aspects of running, but I used to think meeting (personal) goals was the primary reason I participated in this sport. Now I know that meeting goals is actually secondary to all of the other reasons I run.

I’m still goal oriented. That’s just a part of my personality; however,  over the last few months all of my goals have had to do with things outside of running whereas in 2013-2014 the majority of my goals had to do with running, and that’s okay. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Running Doesn’t Define Me 

When I first started reading Megan’s blog I remember thinking it was so different than other running blogs I read. She’s not obsessed with having a race on the calendar to train for, and she’s always happiest when she’s just running for the enjoyment of it. She’s fast and logs a lot of miles, but she doesn’t train because she has to get a PR this season or else.

Megan is quietly confident in who she is as a runner and I have come to admire that A LOT– but I used to think she was nuts.

I couldn’t understand how or why she would run so much without any goal races in mind. She has said multiple times over the years since she started blogging that she is a runner but that running doesn’t define her.

I get that now.

Back when I started running in 2012 I became obsessed with running and finishing my first 5K. Then that turned into a half marathon and then a marathon. From 2012 to 2014 I singularly focused on running goals and my personal happiness often depended on how my training went that day/week/cycle.

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When 2015 hit and I DNFd in Chicago it was the reality check I needed. It stung. It sucked. I was injured and that’s never great, but it made me take a step back and evaluate who I was as a runner. I’m not an Olympian. I’m not even a age group award winner. The highs and lows of my life shouldn’t be predicated on whether I am able to meet my running goals.

During this period of self-reflection I came to realize I needed much more balance in my life. Like Megan says, “I am a runner but running doesn’t define me.” Don’t get my wrong, I know it’s good to have goals and something to strive for, but I want to have goals in all areas of my life, not just one.

Luckily life forced me to find balance this year.

3. Challenges Come in All Forms 

In June of this year Adam and I started looking at houses to buy, and in October we officially became homeowners. Working on this house has been the most time consuming thing I’ve ever done outside of training for a marathon.

You know every free moment I have I am thinking about something I want to do at the house or I am doing something for the house.

In 2013-2014 I had very few distractions outside of running and was able to focus on meeting the challenges of PRing in various distances. This year my challenge has really just been about finding time to be consistent with my running, which I have been, and I’m happy with that. It’s not much but it feels like an accomplishment.

4. It’s Hard Not to Compare Myself to Others 

I don’t mean when it comes to training paces. I think I’m the slowest run blogger out there, and I have been for as long as I’ve been blogging. I don’t mind holding it down for the back of the pack. I’m not ashamed of who I am as a runner. I just mean, overall, it’s hard for me to not compare my training cycle to others.

Sometimes I get caught up in thoughts like oh she runs so many more miles than me per week and she’s not training for anything and if she ran 80 miles per week while renovating her home, why can I barely hit 30 miles per week? 

For instance, I have a friend who also bought a new house early this year and conducted similar renovations to the type Adam and I are doing. While she was in the process of moving she was running 50+ miles per week, and made it look easy breezy. Over the last couple of months I’ve been wondering why I can’t be as strong/tough/amazing as her.

When I told my friend about how impressed I was with the way she juggled all of the house stuff this year she reminded me of the obvious: she is a stay at home wife. While my job is to go to an office and work from there 40 hours per week, her job is to stay home and work on the house.

That made me feel a little bit better about my time management skills. And also about how exhausted I have been lately.

Have I mentioned how I have dark circles around my eyes? Maybe once or twice or 10 times? :).

5. When You Feel the Fire, It’s Hot 

This post feels like it’s a bit anti-racing. I feel like I just spent 30 minutes telling you why I don’t need to race and why I don’t event want to race, so here comes a surprise ending: I WANT TO REALLY TRAIN FOR A RACE. Not just run a bunch of easy miles and line up on race day “just hoping to have fun.” I mean, I do want to have fun, but I also want to train seriously.

A couple of weeks ago the fire and passion for racing hit me like a ton of bricks, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I am so excited to make 2017 the year of smashing personal records, or you know, hopefully at least one of them :).

I’m ready. I feel the fire and it’s hot!

More about my 2017 plans coming soon!

What is the #1 thing you’re happy you accomplished this year – running or non-running related?
Do you set goals in other areas of your life the way you do with running?

14 comments

  1. Sam @ grapefruit & granola

    2016 was such a good year for me in many ways, but obviously My best athletic accomplishment is the triathlon. Hoping for an Olympic in 2017 🙂

    Most of my goals in life come from things other than training. I feel like I have so many things going on so I feel you there.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your 2017 plans! I forget where you live but b and I are going to Florida in January!
    Sam @ grapefruit & granola recently posted…Need Your Help! New Site and A Blog SurveyMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday you did the tri? The second half of this year sure did go by fast!

      I hope you’re coming to south florida!

  2. Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    I feel like we learned some similar lessons this year! I also get caught in the comparison trip of other runners who can manage all these miles and races and never get hurt. But I feel like I am starting to accept where I am and let go of some of that judgement I cant wait to see whats in store for you in 2017!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…5 Memorable Christmas RunsMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      Thanks Lisa! I’m looking forward to keeping up with your continued progress as well. You’ve been so dedicated to cross training and rehab this year, I just know it’s all going to pay off big time. I am sure it already is!
      Kristina recently posted…The Running Post with a Surprise EndingMy Profile

  3. Susan

    Go for it! Can’t wait to follow along with you on your training journey. You can do it, girl.

    1. Kristina

      Thanks Susan! 🙂 I hope I can! haha
      Kristina recently posted…The Running Post with a Surprise EndingMy Profile

  4. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    This year I really got into the mindset of running without races being the goal. I wanted to get faster this year, sure, but I didn’t necessarily want to be faster in *races*. Honestly my goal to get faster was focused on wanting to be able to complete moderate-distance runs without it taking me an hour to do so! It was all about time management!

    I think good training looks different for everyone. I rarely get to over 30 (or even 25) miles a week! I totally get how comparing your training plans to others’ can take some of the joy out of training. It’s funny how every year, we learn a little more about ourselves as runners: what works for us, what makes us tick, what makes us competitive, what makes us frustrated, etc.

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts here because they feel similar to how I’ve been feeling lately, too. I’m finally in the mindset that races aren’t everything, but truly getting some GOOD quality training is very satisfying!
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…2016 Year in Review: RunningMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      You’re so right, good training looks totally different for everyone. We all have our own limits and have to learn what works best for us… and realize this can change season to season based on factors outside of running!

  5. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    I have to laugh that you used to think I was crazy!!!! First of all, I hope you still think I am crazy, but just maybe for a different reason??? Everything you said… having race times/mileage determine happiness is just horrible and NOT HEALTHY. Obviously I get disappointed when I don’t reach a goal, but I want it to be a healthy amount of disappointment. I try so hard not to fall into the comparison trap because it is a horrible way to live. Doing Hansons really made me realize how different every BODY is and what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone, so there is really no reason to even compare because it is not an accurate comparison! I will admit, after following a couple bloggers who did Hansons and reading the book, I compared myself to them and thought I could do it TOO and it would be WONDERFUL but it wasn’t. It sucked and I wasn’t happy. You know what, I didn’t hit ANY of my running goals this year. I ran a couple races and all the ones in which I had a time goal I did not reach it. BDR sucked. I really wanted to PR because I KNEW I had it in me- hell I Pr’ed while I was training for BDR but I wanted it to be official. Then I tried again in April and I shit the bed again! (Not actual shitting the bed.) So I guess I am taking a break for time goals. Part of me wonders if I even have it in me anymore. I’m not trying to be all mopey about it but I do kind of feel that way. Your blog is one of my favorite running blogs to read for several reasons. First of all, as we have come to find out we have a lot in common as far as being crazy cat ladies, outspoken women who are independent, similar political and world views… all the stuff. But everything you say about running, I CAN RELATE TOO. It doesn’t matter what our race times and paces are. I learn as much about running from you as I learn from reading Meb’s dumb book. Actually, I learn more from you than Meb. Because we are both busy women who love to run. We set goals, we struggle, we prevail, we fail, all the normal stuff every runner experiences. I’m going to set a couple goals this year and I’m not even sure there is going to be a running one in there. Sometimes I am happier when I just fly by the seat of my pants.
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Friday 5!My Profile

    1. Kristina

      I do still think you are crazy, but in a totally different way. I mean, you are crazy in that you make up songs about your cats and sing them at the top of your lungs. I love that kind of crazy because I am that kind of crazy too! 😀

      I never fly by the seat of my pants, but one of my goals/resolutions for next year is to try and be more spontaneous. I want to run a total of five races next year, but I’m only going to plan and register for one of them in advance. I want to be able to decide on a Wednesday that I want to run a 5K that weekend and sign up spontaneously. I feel like that will take so much of the pressure off of training for races and remind me that even racing can be done just for fun! I haven’t done any races since Feb. of this year, even my beloved Nov. Fort lauderdale Half, because I just felt so down in the dumps about my progress and races in general, but I need to get out of that funk! Too many other good things happened this year for me to care that I didn’t run a PR race!
      Kristina recently posted…The Running Post with a Surprise EndingMy Profile

  6. Jenny

    I have learned that I am the QUEEN of excuses but despite that I have managed to consistently return to running even after I slacked off. I signed up for and ran two half marathons all on my lonesome with no one else which was a big deal for me (up until this point I’d only ever run one race without other people and that was a 5k). So I’ve learned a lot about myself really and am now ready to really focus on training in 2017 like you! My goal is to improve my half marathon time.
    Jenny recently posted…Race Recap: OUC Orlando Half Marathon (2016)My Profile

    1. Kristina

      Way to go!! That’s so awesome!

      My only running goal for 2017 is to improve my half marathon time so I am RIGHT THERE with you! Let’s do it!

  7. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    And holy crap I forgot to mention I am EXCITED that you are EXCITED to train. That’s the best time to do it. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what 2017 has in store for you race wise!
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Friday 5!My Profile

  8. Jennifer @ Dashing in Style

    I’ve had a similar experience this year–no big PRs to cheer about, but I learned a lot about myself and what I want the next chapter in my running journey to be, and I think that’s the most important thing!
    Jennifer @ Dashing in Style recently posted…What I Learned from Running in 2016My Profile

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