Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 - Focusing on FUN


As I look forward to a new year, one thing that will be first and foremost on my agenda is FUN.

Why?

Because I used to be one of those runners who simply enjoyed running for the mere act of what it was...running. One foot in front of the other, lots of interaction with the spectators (and as many fellow racers who would put up with me), and a glass-half-full attitude. Somehow, in 2016, I found myself on a different route (no pun intended)...and kept seeking out PR's (Personal Records). Sure, I still had fun on the race course(s), but my focus had shifted to a more competitive (?) place where it didn't belong. And it didn't feel right...though I desperately tried to fight what didn't come natural.




Perhaps it all started with my first half marathon of 2016, the Red Shoe Run (recap HERE). It was a cold day, on a hilly course, with plenty of wind in my face (It was May 1st...in Iowa...'nuff said). At the time, I knew the odds were not in my favor for a PR or even a fast (for me) finish time, so I simply tried to make the best of the situation and just go with what the day gave me. And, the final 5K or so was into a fierce headwind on (yet) another gradual incline. Imagine my surprise when I cleared the finish mat with a sub-2:00 finish time....how did that happen? It had been almost two years since my last sub-2:00.  I really wasn't even thinking about speed or pace.

***LiGhT BuLb***

In reflecting on my triumphs (and defeats) of 2016, I realized I had not been true to myself (for the greater part of the year). As I have said (repeatedly, in recent posts and comments), I am a runner, NOT a racer. I had a lot of fun reaching new (faster) speeds in my training, but I never quite was able to bring that "speed mojo" to the race course. Of course, numerous races happened on unusually hot or humid days (when even the most well-trained Olympian would probably not perform at 100%). There also were several times I experienced unexpected muscle cramping, symptoms of dehydration, as well as improper fueling....all on days when I was really amped for a potential PR. Although I finished most of those races with decent times, none of them were the coveted PR's. Instead of celebrating my "good" finish times, I mourned the numerous elusive PR's that were MIA.

Not good. So not good.

So.....(Can I have  drum roll, please?).... I am declaring 2017 to be the year of FUN, and the finish times can kiss my booty.

I spent the greater part of 2016 being a slave to my watch (which was way out of my comfort zone). Typically, I am not co-dependent on such a device. I seldom wear it for training runs (unless I'm doing speed intervals, or drills, etc.). Although I wear it for most races, I use it to monitor my pace at the mile marks, but seldom pay much attention to the constant "stats" flashing across the screen (though I do like to see the final stats/splits AFTER I've finished).

I think I have simply evolved (matured?) in my running. I no longer need the faster finish times to validate my status as a runner. I realize some people need to constantly strive to be faster, but I have moved beyond that. I finally had the epiphany that being a "racer" is not my gig...and I'm flat-out exhausted from posing as one.


So, will I still do speed work? Absolutely! A runner still needs variety in their training (physically AND mentally). Will I throw out my new Garmin? Hardly. I am still gonna try to run my races "efficiently," I'm just not gonna treat it as a do-or-die situation. And I'm not gonna give my shiny new Garmin that kind of power over me.



Bottom line, I have found that I tend to "race"better when I'm trying not to. The Red Shoe Run proved that I can run a great race, even in less-than-ideal conditions, and I can have FUN while doing so...too bad I didn't pay better attention at the time. Coincidentally, my watch's setting was whacked that day, and I couldn't get it to show me my actual "running" time (until afterwards), so I had no idea what my finish time was gonna be until I saw the clock at the finish line. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Lesson learned.

A lot of peeps are talking about Resolutions, Goals, and Challenges this week...so I'm linking this with numerous others to celebrate and share in the excitement of the New Year. Do head over and check out all the hostesses, and take note of all the bloggers linked up with them.

Thanks to:
 Patty and Marcia and Erika for the Tuesdays on the Run ...



Deb for the Wednesday Word (which is involvement...that's a given!)



Rachel and Suzie and Lora and Debbie for the Running Coaches' Corner.




How about you? Are you a goal-driven person?
Do you prefer big year-long goals, or shorter, monthly challenges?
Have you ever ran a race and finished much faster than you thought you were going?




50 comments:

  1. This is great! I also want to focus on having fun this year, but I still have part of me that wants to get faster. But I am not ready to sign up for a race, so hopefully I can just enjoy running for now. I am also planning to do some speed work just to add variety! Hope you have a great (and fun!) year of running!

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    1. Thanks!!!! I have finally accepted that I am not blessed with the genetics for natural speed. And, honestly? I have a lot of other things that bring me joy that do not require as much work LOL

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  2. Hooray for the year of fun! Some times the best things happen when you let go and just enjoy yourself (zero pressure). I think you're going to have a fabulous 2017!

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    1. Thank you ;-) I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders by not letting those finish times determine my "fun." Onward!

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  3. You know, this is interesting. It has made me realize that I, too, was one of those runners who merely enjoyed the act of running. Sure, my competitive nature would kick in during a 5k or 10k and I always wanted to know what my time was when I was done ...but for the most part, I simply enjoyed being out on the road. Blogging has been a wonderful motivator and source of encouragement for me, but I will be honest and say that it also has made me compare myself to other runners and at times made me feel ...well, less than a runner. Then the dang ankle injury ...to pour salt in the wound. So, I really appreciate your perspective and post on this ...as I get older, it really is just about the "run"! :)

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    1. Agreed! I realize some runners find fun in the challenge of getting faster...but getting faster isn't always equal to getting better if it demands so much time and energy...and leaves you exhausted...right?

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  4. YES! I support the year of fun too!

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    1. Rock on! Here's to a great year for all of us ;-)

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  5. I'm so with you, sister. 2017 will be a year of fun for me, too!

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    1. I have seen so many people posting (in their year-end "recaps") about this quest for fun...and how 2016 was a year of frustration. UGH. Glad I'm not alone ;-)

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  6. You're on to something here. I think a lot of people are going into 2017 with the same attitude towards their running. I don't have any major goals and just going to see where things go (while having fun of course)!

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    1. Absolutely! I'd like to improve some of my times (honestly, who wouldn't?), but I'm not gonna obsess over it. That will not be a priority this year.

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  7. I think one reason I loved Ragnar so much was that my precise times just didn't matter. It was all about doing the best for my team and then encouraging my other teammates. Here' to lots of fun in the year ahead!

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    1. Thanks! I will still have those PR times in the back of my mind (being totally honest LOL), but I'm looking forward to just enjoying the freedom of not obsessing over them.

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  8. Love your attitude! For me it has to be fun or I don't want to do it. I know I am never going to be winning anything so I am running for fun and fitness.Have a great day

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    1. I don't know how my transition happened to obsessing over the finish times...I don't know if it was just so gradual I didn't realize it was happening (?) or what. Totally not a fun experience....glad it's over ;-)

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  9. I like to have goals -- it keeps me motivated. And of course I'm disappointed when a race doesn't go as planned (or as fast as I want it to). I may be slow, but I AM a racer!

    That being said, the only time I'm a slave to my watch -- somewhat -- is when I'm doing speedwork or intervals. On easy runs I just run. In races, I note the time each miles, but not the elapsed time.

    I learned in 2016 that it's rare, for me, that all the conditions line up just perfectly for a PR. Will I continue to chase them? Yes. But I will also measure my success by other things other than time.

    Not everyone is competitive -- and sometimes when you take that pressure off, that's when you do your best. And sometimes not!

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    1. You are absolutely right that PR's happen not only when the runner "brings it," but they also need ideal conditions to do so. I think I had so many races with less-than-perfect conditions, that I tried to make it happen anyways... (fail LOL)

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  10. Thanks to social media, I think a lot of us fall into the comparison trap. It's not hard to do, with folks posting pics of their watches, their paces, etc. Last year, I stopped posting mine after getting a few negative comments. I realized that it wasn't helping other runners. I'm still working on accepting that I may have to slow down. This is REALLY hard for me. But since I adopted the whole having fun thing after Chicago 2015, it's been much better.

    Sigh.

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    1. I agree with the comparison thing. And, a lot of people don't realize that the "perfect" race times are what usually get posted...not the disappointing finish times. There is a very limited "truth" in what we actually see sometimes.

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  11. This sounds like the perfect plan to me! I gave up on working really hard to PR about two years ago. I still throw in the occasional speed work but just have the attitude if it happens, it happens. It's important to me to enjoy the journey. And also, try new things.

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    1. That's my strategy, too....if it happens, it happens ;-)

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  12. I think we often forget about having fun during races. We can be so focused on finish times and goals the we just consider "fun". Thus I'd a good reminder that we can have fub doing the things we love rather than stress about finish times. All the best.

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    1. Thank you, Anna ;-) As I've said, I seem to run much better when I just go with the flow and not be such a control freak about it.

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  13. I think that FUN is the perfect objective for you this year. You were so focused (and that isn't a bad thing) but I agree--I think it got you in you in your own way. I can't wait for you to just enjoy the year!

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    1. Thanks, Suz ;-) I thought I was having fun (and I really was, most of the time), but those (stupid) unfortunate finish times just messed with my joy too much. SO many people I know are competitive, and I have to respect that they have a different set of priorities (and genetics LOL) than me. Onward!!

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  14. Love it. Running is fun and the racing aspect can really suck the joy out of it. I do have a goal for a half marathon finishing time, and I'm nervous that I'll get consumed by it. I think the best races are when you have no expectations and just enjoy it!

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    1. Gosh you nailed it..."the racing aspect can really suck the joy out of it," especially for those of us who are not natural born racers.

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  15. Things like really come full circle! I was exactly there for the most part of my running, just happy to be out there. I started doing more and more half's and just wanted to be done faster to you know get to the food and festivities sooner. Then someone told me I should't have any problem running faster times... the air went out. Then you weight fun vs speed. Ahhh, I can not say I don't enjoy getting to that finish faster but I have a feeling I'm going to be reevaluating fun vs faster before the end of the year. It's easy to get away from the Run your Race motto isn't it?

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    1. The fun vs. faster is such a paradox. "Faster" is actually FUN on those days when all the stars, moons, and planets perfectly align...and everything feels effortless. Unfortunately, that is not reality (at least for every race). I know it happens, and I know it will happen again for me, I just have to NOT expect it every time I pin on a race bib LOL

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  16. Good for you! I think a lot of people feel similarly. The social media running culture hit its peak in recent years and I think now we're starting to see a lot of people who are feeling a little burnt out from the constant comparison and competitiveness, whether consciously or not.

    I have recently started training 90% GPS-free, and I love it. There will always be those who don't get it and feel the need to justify why they can't live without their Garmins, but the benefits are numerous and I think you will love it. Since ditching the pace-monitor I am learning better habits like listening to my body's signals (breathing, effort level) and running easy runs truly easy. If people were able to train for distance races 30 years ago without GPS watches I think we can manage ;)

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    1. we are in sync on this ;-) I have never been much of a GPS gal...I do like knowing distance (without having to count the number of city blocks I've run), but I'm not usually interested in pace (unless it's a specific training run that calls for a specific pace). Agreed on the "running by feel" notion, too....I think it does our bodies good ;-)

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  17. I can't tell you how much I love your motto! What's the point in bettering ourselves if we don't enjoy the process, right?!

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    1. Absolutely! I don't plan on doing races without my Garmin, but the constant checking it every 30 seconds feels more like a science experiment than a true "race." Not my gig.

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  18. I am 100% on Team Fun! PRs are addictive in a way - but it's also chasing a moving target, and at a certain point, the PRs come to an end. Not because we're not working hard, but just because all good things do. Fun, however - that keeps on going.

    I love the experience of running and racing, but I'm not a good runner and I'm definitely not any kind of a racer. I know this about myself and I still try, but I'm much happier when I'm just out there doing my thing and not getting down on myself because i"m not hitting arbitrary numbers I think I should be. (Not saying I'mg giving up some of my pace goals, but it will be nice to put them in the background a little).

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    1. I agree ;-) I think we all "plateau" at some point...we've gotten over the newbie phase, improved our finish times, and eventually we do about all we can do in terms of speed. I could (maybe) get a little faster...but I don't have the genetics for it to be an easy feat, and I honestly have a lot of other things in my life that bring me happiness (that don't require as much work LOL)

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  19. I'm going to do everything fun this year... when things get tough it's going to be operation 'fun'! I run for fun now, I often leave my phone and tech watch at home just to remind myself why I love it.

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    1. Cheers! Here's to a FUN 2017! I seldom ever have my phone with me, and the watch usually stays home as well ;-)

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  20. I love this!!! Sometimes we focus so
    Much on the goal we miss out on the fun of running! I bet you will even PR because that's not our focus, have a fun year!

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    1. Well, I cannot tell a lie...the PR's will still be in the back of my head LOL But, it's gonna depend on the circumstances I'm given on race day...I'm gonna run by feel, and it if it happens, it happens ;-)

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  21. I'll be having fun with you! With all my issues last year with my feet I've come to realize I just need to enjoy that fact that i am running.
    I admit it is fun to have a nice speedy day where running feels effortless in a race but they all can't flow that easy right lol

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    1. I think there's a bit of Russian Roulette at play....the race day conditions (weather, terrain, crowds, state of health/injury, etc.) all gotta line up just right. And, let's not forget the importance of proper food/fuel/hydration. There are so many variables (some of which we have ZERO control of). But, I can control my smiling ;-)

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  22. I love it! A year of fun sounds perfect! I need to learn to go to races and have more fun!!!

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  23. It sounds like you've found exactly what you need to do moving forward - good for you! Many don't and remain frustrated with their performances and the sport of running in general. For now, I will continue to race because it brings me great joy and doesn't create frustrations - yet. Someday it probably will, and I hope I recognize it at the time. Great, thought provoking post!

    Thanks for linking up!

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  24. Focusing on fun sounds perfect for you for this year. You had such a busy year of running last year, and focusing on running for the fun and love of it will be a great way to make sure that you don't loose your passion for it.

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  25. I agree - you have to work on getting fun first! I've been struggling on my cycling tests recently, and I think part of it is that I'm focused on the results rather than on enjoying the process. I've been thinking a lot about what I need to do to improve, and I think part of it is figuring out my WHY. So focusing on fun sounds good!

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  26. You're so right, I ran my half marathon PR back in the beginning when I didnt even havea GPS watch. Just ran by feel. Havent been able to get close since, but hoping 2017 is the year I break that PR!

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  27. Good Luck with 2017! Fun is what it is all about along with a little sweat and a bit outside of one's comfort zone, since that's where all the magic happens.

    I was wondering if you would like to be a guest blogger on our Christmas in July website. Maybe detailing how you plan on training for the 12-Hour and some of your ultra goals, what got you into ultras in the first place, a little backstory, a fun tale, etc. Let me know what you think at brian (at) runners4wellness (dot) com. Looking forward to your journey!

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