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 :).
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.
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?