Running resolutions from a marathoner

A new year for most people means a fresh start. Another chance to right the wrongs of last year. Another beginning we have yet to mess up. I guess I’m not like most people, though. I hate resolutions. I hate reflecting on everything I didn’t do right and all I need to do to make myself a better person. Resolutions just depress me. I prefer goals.

What’s the difference? Goals do not shed light on one’s deficiencies as resolutions often do. A goal could be to master a new skill, complete a project, even just finish a book. Of course, many of my goals revolve around running. So here they are. My running goals for 2011, here for the world to see. Nothing like a little public pressure to keep me in line!

1. Do not overtrain. I am notorious for pushing myself past my own limits. It’s hard to reign myself in when I’m in the middle of an eight-mile training run and I feel like Kara Goucher at her peak. I will almost always add a couple miles on just because I can. This usually does more harm than good, most often manifesting itself in a variety of injuries. Which brings me to goal #2…

2. Stop running if it hurts. Not when I’m uncomfortable, which is most of the time, but when I feel real pain. No more “muscling through the hurt”. I’ve learned that my body knows when it’s time to stop. If I would just be smart enough to listen, my consumption of ibuprofen would be greatly reduced and my long-suffering husband would be saved hours of grief and whining.

3. Get back on track. Rather, get back ON the track. Yes, I dread track workouts. I found an excellent coach last year who had me running speed workouts on the track every Tuesday to help me get ready for the Boston Marathon. The results were incredible. My confidence increased as well as my speed. Still, I dreaded those workouts. Each time I pulled into the parking lot of the Olympic Oval and paid my $2, I had a knot in my stomach. What would it be today? Mile-repeats? Ugh. 800’s? Double ugh. One of the other members of our track group said to me one day, “If you don’t dread the workout, you’re not running it hard enough.” Apparently I was working hard enough because no one dreaded those workouts more than me. But if I want to meet my time goals, I know this workout is a must. Speaking of time goals…

4. Run a course P.R. in Boston. I don’t usually like to set specific time goals for races. There are just too many variables to contend with. But last year was my first year in Boston and I did well, but suffered from some stomach issues that undoubtedly slowed me down a bit. I wanted to run a 3:10 race, but deep down, I really thought 3:15 was more likely. I came in at 3:19. I’m not unhappy with that time, but I know the course now and I know I can do better. If I know I can do better, why don’t I? Even if it’s just a second faster, I’ll be thrilled. And it wouldn’t hurt to lay off the fajitas the night before.

5. Run happy. Wait a minute. I love running, right? Don’t I always run happy? Sadly, no. Too many mornings I wake up, hop on the treadmill or head outside with a small sense of dread. Look, running hurts. Your lungs burn, your heart pounds, your muscles ache, and I always come back sweaty and smelling like a wet dog. But there was a six-month period not long ago when I couldn’t run a step due to injury. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part. I missed the hurt. I would look at runners on the road through a green mask of jealousy. So on those days when I just don’t want to do it, I will try to remember that at least I have the choice. Not everyone does.

6. Run some races for fun. I’m going to contradict myself here, but sometimes it’s good not to have any goals at all except to have fun. I can get far too competitive with myself. What’s the difference between racing and running? Racing isn’t fun until it’s over. I want to have fun before it’s over, at least on a few of my races. Last year my husband and I ran the Ogden half marathon. When we got done, he was talking about how beautiful the course was, how gorgeous the waterfall was. What waterfall? I didn’t see a waterfall! I had my race blinders on and missed it all! Not this year.

7. Finish the Utah Grand Slam. I didn’t say win; I said finish. This series asks participants to finish four pre-determined major Utah marathons during the year. This year it will be the Utah Valley, Park City, Top of Utah, and St. George Marathon. This will require that I adhere to all my previous goals to run happy and healthy in order to make it to the finish line of each race.

8. Run the New York Marathon. There are those who say that Boston is a marathoner’s dream. Others say it’s New York. I say I should fly out there with three of my favorite girlfriends and find out for myself. Five days of shopping, eating, and celebrating the sport of running with 45,000 fellow runners. Sounds like a great week to me.

So, there it is. My running goals for 2011. Just writing them down offers a little of the energy I’ve been lacking these last couple weeks. Bring on 2011!

Kim Cowart is a mom of two girls, wife, fitness instructor and marathoner. She has finished 9 marathons including Boston and hopes to run Boston, New York, and the Utah Grand Slam in 2011.

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