It’s a new year, and I’m looking for a new goal to provide some focus for my running. Without a goal, I just go out and run McMiles. That’s better than not running at all, but it lacks the spice that a worthy goal provides.
I do have one short-term goal to tide me over while I look for something better. My 2013 goals didn’t require much in the way of speed. Since I wasn’t worried about race times, I let myself eat whatever I wanted. I also rode my bike a lot, especially in the summer while I couldn’t run. A long ride almost always included a stop for something to eat (something you can’t do as easily on a long run).
It’s not easy for me to gain weight, but I was up to the challenge. It took a lot of muffins, burgers, and bacon, but by New Year’s Day I weighed 155 pounds. That was the most I’ve weighed since I began running over 20 years ago, about 7 pounds more than I weighed at the 2012 Cape Cod Marathon.
I don’t need to lose weight. Mostly, the extra weight keeps people from thinking I’m unhealthily gaunt. But it doesn’t help my running. There’s no need to make running any harder than it has to be.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to see how quickly I can get back down to my fighting weight while still ramping up the mileage to get ready for Boston in April and Vermont City on Memorial Day.
The key to running higher mileage with insufficient fuel is to take it easy. I’m running 50+ mile weeks, which is high for me, but I’m running almost all the miles at around a 9:30 pace. That’s my marathon survival shuffle pace, but when I’m not racing, it’s the center of my comfort zone.
Dieting, like running, generates lots of numbers to play with. I use My Fitness Pal to set calorie goals for each day and monitor what I eat and how much I burn. As long as I pay attention, my competitive side makes it easy for me to keep my numbers under my target for the day. The trick is to make sure I eat enough to keep going.
I lose weight easily when I make the effort (don’t hate me). I’m down to 151, a loss of about two pounds a week. If I keep at it, another week or two and it’ll be time to find another goal.
It’s gotten harder for me to come up with new goals as I get older.
A good goal is challenging, but it shouldn’t be all-consuming. Running is important, but it’s not everything. A goal has to leave time for work, family, and friends.
It helps if it’s something new. Some runners enjoy accumulating things – miles, marathons, states, consecutive days of running, whatever. For me, that’s just doing the same thing over and over. The only goal I have along those lines is to keep running and accumulate years, until one day I’m winning my age group by virtue of being the last runner standing.
I imagine it’s easier if you’re fast– your goal is to win, at whatever distance appeals to you. My substitute was to try for PRs and Boston qualifiers, but I can’t compete with my younger self anymore, and every year the risk of injury when I run all-out increases.
I still gear up to try run fast occasionally. The last time I ran with a time goal in mind was when I ran a BQ at the Cape Cod Marathon in 2012. I had three goals for 2013, guiding a blind runner at the Boston Marathon, earning my claw at the Great Cranberry Island 50K, and winning my age group for the 3rd year in a row in the small Thanksgiving 5K in my hometown. I went two for three, failing to complete the GCI 50K because of a calf injury.
Nothing in 2014 has captured my imagination yet, but I’m not worried. It’s like everything else in running. Just keep your feet moving, and eventually you get to where you’re headed.