Monday, March 23, 2015

Dealing with Unfinished (Running) Business, and Recycling Goals

Recently, I read an article from Runner's World about How to Break A Running Plateau.  Reading that article inspired me to write this post and is helping me regain focus on which direction I will be steering my Running Calendar 2015.  It is something I have done often in the past, and I feel, I should continue to do - create :

" . . . multiple goals of varying degrees of achievability. That way, if you miss your most ambitious goal, you have other more feasible ones still within reach. . ."

RW columnist 
Jayme Moye

2013's goal:

Run 3 marathons. 

Due to us losing our home from water damage because of a fire that broke out above our flat,
and later in the year a foot nerve injury,

I ran 6 half-marathons instead. 

2014's goal:
Run my fastest 10K. 

Due to mental struggles with the recurring foot nerve pain,

I  ran (at least) 14 10K's instead.  

2011's goal:


2014's goal:


The Road to Rotterdam 2015

The struggle with training for Rotterdam Marathon has beaten up my running motivation many times; the past months I have been confronted with all time low running moments.

The process of going back again and again to training with low morale has been harder than dealing with the reoccurring flu.

It has been hard to rest, and take a break even if I know I should (and must!) because of all the thoughts of the future (running goals), and memories of the past (unfinished and unattained goals).

I write this blog to banish all these unnecessary torturing thoughts, which takes away the energy I need to go back again to simple running.

Pick myself up and dust myself off of ALL insecurities is something I should do.

I document the good thoughts and lessons learned because this gives me energy and remind me why I began, and why running is my lifestyle even if I am on a running break.

Moving forward one simple small step at a time instead of letting myself be frozen (again!) in limbo of over-thinking, remains a kick in reaction I still am working on to kick in faster!

Marathon Training Through The Years…

Last week, I was suppose to go back to training  but the virus I struggle with remains to haunt me.

This week is ultimately the last chance to make a decision whether I will still go to the start  of Rotterdam Marathon  or look for another marathon, which will start a month later.

The last  and perhaps the most reasonable alternative, at this point: abandon the Spring/Summer marathon goal (at least this year) and focus on complete recovery, and prepare properly for Amsterdam Marathon, which will be in Autumn.

It is hard to let go.  The memory of unfinished business with Paris* stands in my way of completely letting go.

(Spring marathon 2013* - I finished and got the finisher's medal but since I was over the time limit, I am not on the official list of marathon finisher.  Paris was my 2nd attempt at running a marathon in Spring.  Rome was the first attempt, which did not even completely take off.)

This marathon experience still continues to nag me, and I am afraid I won't be able to silence this nagging if I "give up" on Rotterdam or simply not run a marathon in Spring, when I know I can finish it like I did the Autumn marathons.

I am not aiming for an impressive time; the goal is to finish within the time limit.

As early as December, I knew I could not aim for a faster time than the time limit.

The time limit for each checkpoint.
Source: Marathon Rotterdam Race regulations

As little as the training volume has been the last 3 months (compared to other marathon beginners!), it is considerably more  than what I did in preparation for Paris.  It is also more structured than how I prepared for Berlin and Amsterdam.  Admittedly, my training do lack the passion I had when I was preparing in 2012.

On the other hand, I would like to stop this pattern of "stretching my body to it's utmost limit" in order to "silence my mind".  I would like to run for the pure joy of it and not only to escape my own mental demons.

It is something I am weighing in my decision making.

The blogposts here, and my Nikeplus stats shows me clearly, how much effort I have been exerting in the past 3 years, and how much I have improved.

It is not to be compared to my contemporaries but my running is not about them, as their running is not about me.

Goal was to finish within time limit! ✔ 
Goal was to finish faster than in Berlin! 
Goals was to run until the half-marathon point
due to lack of proper training to run the entire distance.

As I reached kilometer 21, I felt the urge to go until 30…
and at kilometer 35 the goal became to reach the finish line
irregardless of the fact that I won't reach it  within time limit.

Not my best nor wisest decision but  I did it. Goal accomplished

 (I have the medal to prove it to myself :D ). ✔ 

Lessons of Rotterdam Marathon Training

Training for Rotterdam has taught me many lessons.  New, as well as revisiting old lessons learned:

1. There is no rush in "life running".

Since I began running, half a year before my 40th birthday,  I have been rushing from one event to another and creating one goal to top the other to catch up on what I think I have missed out - 20 years worth of not being a runner!

At the beginning it was a great energy to have because it makes you leave all your unnecessary fears behind.  This spirit gave me a very productive and joyful 2012.

As time went by, this attitude started erasing the joy running brings.

In 2013, and 2014, I went  through the motions of how I felt I should continue instead of  immersing myself completely in the fun of the running experiences.

I recognize now, how because of this, I lost the excitement in my spirit, which I had as beginner runner in 2011.

This brought me to the thoughts  I would like to  affirm and keep in mind in 2015, and in the years ahead:

There is no need to rush.  Nothing has been missed.  Nothing will be missed.

What is most important  now is acknowledging the fact: "I am a runner!".  

2. Missing a running event is not the end of the world.

After three years of belonging to the running community, I know, that I am not alone with struggling with the fact that sometimes you cannot or simply unable to run a specific event, you set your heart out to do.

Injuries, personal circumstances, even natural calamities are just some of the reasons why one cannot run a specific race.

It is hard to process it the first, second even the third time it happens.

As with everything else in life, as the years pass and many experiences are accumulated, it becomes easier to let go.  Supporting those who go through the same experience you go through or gone through also helps the process of letting go.

19 days to go!
I would like to go back to this blog in the future
and would like to reread what my thoughts are in the past
during a challenging marathon training.

3. Race your pace; focus on your progress.

I think the worst thought I tortured myself these past months was obsessing about the pace I have and the pace I will have to run for the Rotterdam marathon.

3 years and counting, and I still can't completely bring myself to focus on my own progress.

I still become impatient with myself and how "slow" I do many things (running and non-running!), how "minimal" I can put in to make myself be stronger and faster, and how minimal the improvements seems to be, as a result.  Or how I seem to take one step forward and three steps back.

It is my hope, that this time around this lesson will finally sink in deeper:

Focus on your own pace; celebrate your own progress.  Each millisecond IS progress.  Each step forward is self-empowerment.  Each step backwards is an opportunity to learn to be better and BE stronger.

CPC Run - The Hague - 2013/14

CPC Run - The Hague - 2015

In a week or two, you'll read whether Rotterdam Marathon will belong to the the list of "momentarily-unfinished-goals", and how this goal will be recycled, that it may belong to the "feel- the accomplishment- list!".

May this blogpost inspire and motivate you, as writing it inspired and revived my "never give up" spirit.

Happy Spring running, everyone!!!

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If I can run, so can you: big dreams are reached with baby steps!