The Journey Matters: April 2016 Goals Check-In

The Journey Matters: April 2016 Goal Check In

It feels very odd for it to suddenly be May, because May marks the anniversary of when Ryan and I moved from northwest Indiana to East Seattle. I cannot fully wrap my mind around how it’s been 12 full months since we packed up everything in the first apartment we had together and drove 2000 miles; our move seems very recent and yet life in Seattle has become so very normal that it feels as if we’ve been here for years.

I had the honor a couple weeks ago to interview on the DizRuns podcast, which was very exciting since I regularly listen to this podcast. I would greatly appreciate it if you gave it a listen, as I really enjoyed this interview and what Denny and I talked about for the hour, including how my education in humanities influenced the way I approach training, the relationship of eating and running, and more!

Since most of the work I’ve been doing in my own training and in my coaching business focuses on marathon training, I’ll focus on that goal as I review the month of April. If you’re new to This Runner’s Recipes, you can catch up on 2016 running goals, January check in, February check in, and March check in!

The Journey Matters: April 2016 Goal Check In


A few people have asked why I’m running this marathon, especially since I love the half marathon so much. At this point, my desire to run a marathon is similar to my desire to hike that Gothic Basin again: redemption. To stare down the beast that chewed me up and spat me out last time, and instead to fight it and come out on top.

That’s why, deep down, the marathon is so popular, is it not? Why so many of us cross the finish lines, vowing to never again run such a grueling distance, only to months later find ourselves signing up for another?

The marathon is a crucible which you enter to test yourself, to push the limits of your mental and physical capacity, and to refine your character.

There’s no running for fun for me in the marathon. Goodness, there’s no running for “fun” for my competitive personality in any race distance. I enjoy racing, because I enjoy pushing myself against competition, against the course, and against myself – but I don’t enter a race without the desire and intention to push.

Yes, I want to enjoy the marathon, soak in the experience, and most of all not hate running for the second half, but I also don’t want to cross that finish line with the regret that I could have ran faster.

[Tweet “Setting marathon goals beyond a finish time #marathon #fitfluential #sweatpink #findyourstrong via @thisrunrecipes”]

In training, I want to strike the right balance between making the most of training and enjoying life. I don’t want a strenuous, exhausting training cycle with no time or energy for other hobbies and adventures. But I also do not want to squander a potentially strong training cycle and marathon, a once-a-year-at-most opportunity for me (my body just can’t handle more).

Marathon training does not just demand my time and energy; it demands the time and energy of my sweetest and most supportive husband. Marathon training requires careful balance with work projects, namely long hours as the training load increases. As many people mentioned in the comments on last Tuesday’s post on running your first marathon, a marathon is not a commitment to be entered into lightly.

My goals for training and the marathon are to enjoy the journey of training, challenge myself to improve as a runner, and run a strong and smart finish time. I do believe this process will lead me to a PR from my time of 3:49:32 at Portland, but I’ve sort of just tucked that goal away as something that will happen with hard work, good race conditions, and time.

The Journey Matters: April 2016 Goal Check In

Ryan is putting hard work into his training right now as well, which honestly makes it so much easier to tackle marathon training. We’re both watching our nutrition, increasing the distance of our long runs, and keeping each other accountable on strength training.

Ultimately, I want to test my body in the marathon but to remain uninjured. No finish time is worth an injury to me. Each of us only receives one body. The end result of training should never the breaking down of that body, but rather the improvement of the body’s abilities. 

In training, I want to strike the right balance between making the most of training and enjoying life. Hiking isn’t going anywhere; I value that time with Ryan, nature is good for mental health, and I honestly believe hiking has made me a mentally stronger and more injury-proof runner.

Nor is a marathon ever worth more than time with family. Ryan and I have our eyes set on the mountains and on adventure together. Honestly, if my work schedule did not permit me to do my long runs on Friday mornings, thus leaving our weekends open for hiking and spending valuable time together, I would have never clicked that register button.

To be honest, I also hope that marathon training prepares me well for fall hiking season. We still want to do complete a few long, multi-day hikes of at least 20 miles (which, when you are simultaneously climbing 4000 feet or more, is no easy feat).

So far, it’s seemed as if marathon training is going well! I’m enjoying the workouts, feeling good, and constantly assessing how I can optimize my training.

But most of all, I am very excited for what this marathon training cycle will teach me even more about the marathon, especially as the Marathon Training Group begins in just four weeks! I am very excited about the group of athletes that is already coming together for this. You can pre register at no cost now, so that you can set up an early consultation when they begin in a couple weeks and save your spot in the group!

You can learn more about the Fall 2016 Marathon Training Group here and pre register by entering your name and email below.
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[Tweet “Is one of your 2016 #goals to run a #marathon? Achieve it with @thisrunrecipes Marathon Training Group! “]

What sort of goals do you set for yourself in a training cycle?
Do you focus more on training goals or on finish time goals?
How are you doing on achieving your 2016 goals?

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22 Responses

  1. I think one of the reasons I keep running marathons is because I really enjoy the process of training. I have definitely learned that the actual race is just a victory lap but a million things can go wrong. Instead I like to focus on training well but enjoying the process. It’s so nice that you can do your long runs on Fridays! I feel like the weekends go by so fast as it is and adding in a long run makes them go by even faster.

    1. I love that: the race is a victory lap! 26 miles is hard, but 16+ weeks of committed hard training is even more challenging. It is so nice to do long runs on Friday – the weekends go by as fast as it is!

  2. you are going to do great in this marathon! you learned so much from your last one and are training so well and so focused – I just know you will do well! gosh I wish I was running one so I could sign up for the group lol. I know I already said that but wanted to say it again. ha

    1. Awwww thank you so much! That first marathon is definitely a lesson – as I’m sure all marathons will be in some way or another, I know I’ll always be learning something to do differently. I wish you were doing one also! 🙂 I’d love to have you in the group because training you was so fun! 🙂

  3. I think you can also use your marathon training as a learning experience for your clients (as we all do with each training cycle)–what did you change, how did it impact you. I have a feeling the hubs will be supportive regardless!

    1. It definitely is a good learning experience, especially since last time I didn’t do any really long long runs – I need to know what those 20 milers feel like! And Ryan is truly the best in being supportive. 🙂

  4. Marathon training is definitely a family affair even if you’re the only one running. I’m so fortunate to always have the support of my family. Agreed. The Journey matters. Love that.

  5. Oh, I like what Lisa said about the race being the victory lap! I really relate to everything you said about the marathon. I met a guy last week who was running BMO and he refused to call it a race; he only “run” not “races.” I think because for him, if he treats it like a competition then he gets injured. But to each their own. I love pushing HARD. I have so much emotional shit to channel out there, I swear, that if I didn’t run as hard as I could for those 26.2 miles, then just to get rid of all my stress I’d have to tack on another 74 miles.

    1. Sports psychology is so fascinating because different athletes react so differently to the idea of competition – some thrive on it, others break (sometimes physically) under it, and there’s no right or wrong reaction. I love pushing hard also. I can’t push that hard in regular training, but you put me in a race atmosphere with other runners pushing hard and a clock timing me and it is on. The competition has a magical effect.

  6. I understand how you feel about training vs. running for fun. Even in training, we still run for fun… it’s all fun because none of us are getting paid to run. We’re not making our living this way. But to me, training *is* fun- you *enjoy* training and racing. Succeeding in my goals, challenging myself to be the best… that is fun. Not that just running for enjoyment can’t be fun (it can and is), but there can be a time and place for both in training.

    It bugs me when people tell me I should just “run for fun”, because they really mean I just shouldn’t be so goal oriented… this sport is a lot of different things to different people.

    As far as goals, right now my goals are all training oriented and not time because it is hot in the summers here. I just want to train consistently and do most races as tempos so I can set and hopefully achieve time goals in the Fall.

    Marathon training is definitely a family affair! You gotta have a spouse on board with it, or at least one that just gives you time to run and is cool with not going out on Friday night if you long run on Saturday, etc. My husband sleeps in when I run but even then, it is worth sacrificing a run or changing up the schedule to do things like breakfast on Sat/Sun or something.

    1. The sport is interpreted differently for various runners – for some like you and I, “fun” means competition and goals. For others it doesn’t – and both are okay! But I could never do a race as demanding and long as a marathon without wanting to achieve a big goal -it’s just too much work. Ha and Friday nights are why I like doing my long run on Friday mornings! Even though we don’t go out, it’s so nice to just kick back and have a couple drinks without worrying about a long run on Saturday.

    1. The marathon is amazing in showing you just how much you are capable of – it’s always more than we give ourselves credit for, and as hard as marathon training is, it builds so much confidence.

  7. I need to do a goal check in. I’m bad at sticking with goals because I’m not a planner- more spontaneous- so I set a goal and then something else comes along that I find more interesting, so I pursue that instead. Maybe I should study up on how to stick with goals lol! It sounds as if you have your priorities straight!

    1. Monthly goal check ins help me a lot because while I’m a planner, I agree that it is so easy to get swept away by other things! Monthly check ins and vision board/journals increase the likelihood of sticking with goals. And thank you!

    1. Thank you! It is so easy to let training take over life, but then it seems like when we balance it with life, we end up doing better at running anyway – all things thrive in good order 🙂

  8. Big Sur was the first time I’ve run a marathon for fun. To be honest, I never understood those people who wear costumes or run with friends. But Big Sur is so hard and so beautiful, that to me, to do it for a time goal just seemed wrong. I had a little trouble getting my head around a 5 hour finish time but in the end, I’m so glad we did the race like we did. We probably could have shaved some time off our finish if I hadn’t felt so crappy but bottom line, it made the finish that much more special!

    1. Big Sur is a beast of a marathon! Those hills! But that part of California is unbeatably beautiful and if there’s any race to just soak it all in, it’s Big Sur. I’m glad you had such a wonderful race experience, even with feeling a bit crappy (but really, whether a marathon is for fun or for competition, does anyone not feel crappy at some point? It seems inevitable!). I don’t get the costumes either though – that seems like so much extra sweating and chafing!

  9. I agree with your “go big or go home” stance about the marathon. It’s just way too much work to put in for something I’m going to do halfheartedly. But I’ve also learned that competitive training/racing is like doing speedwork or putting on makeup: less is more. Right now just the THOUGHT of training for something makes me feel like I’m at mile 17 of the Pittsburgh Marathon all over again. I gave everything I had to that training and left it all out there, and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s not a sustainable way to approach my running life, so it has to be used sparingly. So, the irony is that my competitive personality is in a sense the reason I compete less frequently. I’m like you in that I’d rather do fewer races but have each one really matter.

    1. I completely understand the competing less because of a competitive personality. I don’t know how people can do more than a marathon a year or even more than four half marathons a year because like you I just leave it all in training and the race. On the flip side, I think not racing frequently is what let’s us push our limits to the very max in a race – racing too often just never lets you sharpen and peak for a goal race!

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