Earlier this year, I set a goal to run a 1/2 marathon. Not a bad goal to choose, and certainly more ambitious than the average American couch-surfer. There are lots of people who have run longer races, and have more impressive results, but I’m happy with this goal. This weekend, I’ll be running in the Indianapolis Monumental 1/2 Marathon, along with my sister, brother-in law, and nephew, along with about 15,000 other runners.
Training for this race has been a long-term project. At 25, I could go out and run all day, and recover fairly quickly. Now that I’m no longer 25, it takes longer to build up my endurance, takes longer to recover, and injuries that might take me out for a day or two, now, might put me out of commission for weeks, or even scrub the race entirely. So, I’ve had to get a lot smarter about training. What have I learned?
First, I can still set ambitious physical goals. While I haven’t won any age group awards, and in some races, am just happy to be IN my age group. On top of that, there are many people out there who have much more challenging issues than my own inertia. They inspire me to dig a bit deeper, push a bit harder, and stretch a bit more to set goals at the next level.
Second, If I train smart, I can go after multiple goals at once. This year, I’ve competed in 6 5K races, two 5 milers, a 10K, a 10 miler, along with my upcoming 1/2 marathon. In addition to that, I’ve ridden in two century (100 mile) bike rides. I’ve done that by alternating my training schedule so that I’m never doing the same thing 2 days in a row. Cross-training has allowed me to train for several months straight with very little down time. When I’ve needed to take a break, or noticed something flaring up, just backing off a bit has given me the recovery I needed to get back on the horse.
Finally, while the physical goals have been fun to accomplish, the emotional and psychological rewards have been even more enjoyable. Working out and competing gives me a fun and exciting outlet. I get to meet some very interesting people, and it really helps deal with stress. If I’m frazzled from a long work day, or have a stressful day in front of me, getting on the treadmill or hitting the bike takes that edge off, and I’m a lot more alert and ready to deal with what’s in front of me.
After this race, I get to take a little break and ease off the training schedule a bit as we near the holidays….but I’m already setting my sights on next year’s goals. What will I be doing? I’ve already signed up for a very challenging century ride, will compete in a rowing competition, and am considering if I want to run a full marathon in the fall. I have some friends urging me to try a triathlon……so I’ll see if that is enough to get me in the pool to add that as a goal. I can swim, but it’s not pretty….so I’d have to get some coaching. What I’ve learned, however, is that I don’t have to be perfect to set the goal – I just have to get started. On your mark, get set….and GO!