There’s something about the word ‘goal’ that shuts my brain right off. I won’t do it. I refuse to think about it. This makes setting them a bit of a challenge.
I’ve been giving goal setting a lot of thought lately, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that I do actually set ‘goals’, I just don’t call them that. I refer to them as ‘challenges’. I love a challenge. Challenge me and I will win (or die trying).
I’ve been giving the whole goal thing a lot of thought lately, because I’ve taken a bit of a break from exercise. Truthfully, I’ve been struggling with knee issues since after I ran the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon in May of 2011. I started exercising less and less because it was becoming debilitating. I think that my knee issues were caused by a combination of increasing my non-long-run mileage too quickly and thinking I could get away without doing strength training anymore (which I had been doing regularly previously).
The knee pain came to a head at the end of March of this year. I broke down and went to the doctor because I couldn’t bend my legs all the way because both knees were so swollen. He diagnosed me with bursitis, but I think I was having other knee issues previously, because my original symptoms don’t fit the bursitis diagnosis. Anyway, not important – the point is that when I was doing about half of my running on the treadmill (with all long runs outside) and strength training 2-3 times per week, I was not having any knee problems.
The doctor told me that I was to do nothing at all until the swelling and pain was completely gone from my knees, which took about 4 months. 4 FREAKING MONTHS of doing nothing!!! For the last month, hubby and I have been walking and doing some light hiking, and as of last week I am back at the gym. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel. I am back to doing what worked for me before.
I find myself trying not to be frustrated with myself about the fitness I’ve lost, and keep looking forward. I’m starting back to running by using intervals of walking and running and running at a slower pace. I used to run on the treadmill at 5.8-6.5 mph, and I’ve dropped down to 5.3 mph for now, while I rebuild my running base. Back to basics – focus on increasing time gradually and speed will come later.
I feel like a new runner again, except that those ‘little things’ I cheered myself on for the first time are things I feel like I should already be doing, so I find it a bit more difficult to give myself a pat on the back for running 5 minutes in a row than I did for the first time I ran 5 minutes in a row.
Looking at it objectively though, I was in really top shape not that long ago and I did run a 9 mile race at the end of January, so it shouldn’t take me that long to get back into the swing of things. I’m still taking it slow, doing lots of cross training and listening to my body.
Last year, I wanted to continue my training after the half-marathon and progress to a full 26.2 miles. Actually, when I started running in 2008, that was my plan. I wanted to run a marathon.
While I was thinking about goals a few days ago, the idea of marathon training popped into my head again, and my first thought, was ‘I don’t want to do that’. I know from my half marathon training that marathon training really requires you to ‘live running’ for quite a while, and I’m just not in that head-space right now.
This tells me that I need to take it slow and not jump right into marathon training. I am just not ready for that commitment right now. My plan is to gradually increase my treadmill running (keeping it 3 days a week with 2 days of cross-training/strength combos) for the next month and re-evaluate – possibly sign up for a 5k later in the year.
Later in the year I’ll look at whether I want to start training for a spring half-marathon (possibly BMO Vancouver 2013), and only at that point will I know if I want to commit to training for a marathon. Like I said, I’m taking it slow.
Of course, this will all likely change as things go, but ultimately I feel like I am a runner at heart, whether I run races or not.