One thing I'm learning as I get older is that it's not only okay to change personal goals, but it's appropriate to do so. The goals that I had in my twenties, when I was single and childless, are way different now that I'm in my forties and married with children.
I've been re-evaluating my athletic goals recently, and while I don't have any real answers right now, I felt an urge to write about it and flesh out my thoughts.
My athletic goals have changed drastically over the years. In my late teens and early twenties it was to hit the gym, lift weights, and get on the stair master. In my late twenties it was to run 5ks, and do a half marathon. In my early thirties it was to do a full marathon. Once I hit forty, my goals went on overdrive and I dove headfirst into doing half marathon after half marathon, as well as getting into triathlon.
To date, I have done 1 full marathon, 20 stand-alone half marathons, one15k, a few 10ks, countless 5ks, 7 sprint triathlons, 1 Olympic triathlon, 2 half-Ironman triathons, 1 metric century bike ride (67 miles), and one 2.4 mile ocean swim. Tomorrow I will do my first century ride (105 miles), and I look forward to crossing off that bucket list item.
What I'm struggling with right now is, what next? To me, there are no more "big goals" left to conquer. I have NO interest in doing a full Ironman triathlon, so that will not be added to the bucket list. And I have no interest in doing another full marathon, let alone an ultramarathon. Therefore, any athletic goals need to fit within the parameters of distances I've already accomplished. I'm ok with having no "big goals" left in terms of distance, and know that I can make goals to do distances faster and/or stronger.
I have a few half marathons on the books, and hope to be able to run them. I have not run a stand-alone half marathon since last August. I was too injured, with excruciating sciatic pain resulting from a herniated disc. While the pain has lessened considerably, I wasn't "allowed" to do a half marathon by my coach while training for the half-Ironman, for fear of re-injuring myself. Once the half-Ironman was over, I was plagued by heel pain, and ended up taking off time from running. In fact, tomorrow will mark five weeks since my last run. (I just got clearance from my podiatrist to start running again, though, with a diagnosis of Achilles tendinopathy and a treatment plan.) So I'm hopeful I'll be able to start training again.
I still have a bucket list goal of running a half marathon in every state. I have one on the books for November in Maryland, and that will make state number 4 (only 46 more to go!!!) But accomplishing this goal depends as much on my budget as it does on athletic ability.
I guess, now that I'm sorting this out in my head, my issue is triathlon. I don't know where I stand with it. I got burned out training for my second half-Ironman. While I loved racing in Oceanside, and had a great race and overall a good time, I said "never again" when I finished. However, I said that after I finished my first half-Ironman, and obviously I signed up again. I do think that if, and I truly mean IF, I do a 70.3 distance again, it won't be until 2016. I'm loosely considering Vineman, or Barb's Race, or even Oceanside again...but as I said, I'm not sure I want to do it a third time. 70.3 miles is a really, really long way to go....the training kept me away from my family most weekends, and my body gets injured so easily that I worry about it falling apart.
So if I don't do another 70.3 for a few years, am I ok training for sprints, or even Olympic distances? Or, should I continue doing what I've been doing recently, which is to deconstruct the triathlon and do individual events (ie I am doing the century bike ride tomorrow, and have two swim-only events on tap over the next few months). I am kind of enjoying the one-sport event. It's nice to do a swim race and not have to worry about biking afterwards, just as it will be great to do the century ride tomorrow without having to then go for a run.
I should also have non-swim/bike/run goals, such as being able to touch my toes. I would love to start yoga classes again. I was doing yoga for a while, but it's been over a year since I last attended a class.
I want to push myself as hard as I can, but within reason. I want to be healthy. I HATE being injured. It SUCKS not being able to run. I want to be able to swim, bike and run in my old age. I want to be the old lady running in the local 5k, swimming laps early in the morning, and biking around the lake. I always want to be active, and if I'm injured, or mentally burned out, that won't happen.
Right now, I don't have an answer. I need to see how my body holds up once I start running next week----and see if I ever want to look at my bike again after riding it for 105 miles tomorrow. Maybe I should see how my body does running again, and sign up for an end-of-season sprint or Oly. If my body doesn't respond well to long distances, I may need to change my race distance to 10ks or 5ks (I hope not, as I really love the half marathon distance, but if I have to, I will---I'd rather run less miles than none at all.) I guess time will tell on how my mind, body and spirit do. Flexibility is the key.
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