If I hadn't given myself a lot of time to reflect before writing this post I would probably say this was a really disappointing year in terms of running. If I judged my running only by my times I would say that I was a complete failure. Luckily I judge myself by much more than that, it just took a while for me to see it.
After last Sunday's less than stellar race performance I was really let down by the fact that another year had gone by without a PR. I realize that you aren't going to PR at every race, and than in the grand scheme of things it shouldn't be (and in reality its not) the only thing I care about. So what else do I care about? What else can I measure my year by if not time?
To answer this question I would have to turn to my year recap from last year. Unfortunately it's not posted on my blog so you'll just have to take my word for it. Once I re-read it, and really looked at where I was last year and where I am now I realized a lot has changed and I really have accomplished a lot. One thing I tell Ralph a lot is "If you ever feel frustrated that you haven't gone far enough, look back at where you came from. You'll realized you're a lot farther along than you thought." Maybe I should start listening to my own advice...
A little bit of my 2010 recap email to my coach:
"When I started this year, my goal was to just get back into shape. I had taken some time off to focus on my relationship and realized it had made me very lazy. I was mostly afraid that if I didn't get motivated I would end up like the before pictures on those dramatic weight loss stories in women's fitness magazines. I also needed to tackle this new found problem with difficultly breathing when I ran. I set my sights on four half marathons through out the year, to give myself reason and motivation to keep running. It was by chance that I stumbled upon Team Challenge while looking for a summer race, and my goals evolved to tackling the ever scary marathon."
And a little bit of his answer back to me:
"But if I had to single out one thing, it is this: I really like the theme of 'making it all fit'. You have a lot going on in your life right now, and fitting in workouts can be a challenge. The lesson here is: don't expect your life to suddenly get less complicated any time soon. If anything, it will continue to get more complicated (but for all the right reasons!). Thus it's a never-ending challenge, and learning how to adapt on the fly is key here."
After I read this I had a little bit of a mini revelation. If I had to say what I was most proud of throughout the year it would be learning to balance everything in my life, between work, my relationship, and running/working out. And when I say learn, I do not mean "I mastered". I mean I worked at it and worked at it and continue to work at finding a way to fit it all in. Sometimes that means that means running one or zero days a week (those are the weeks I am usually REALLY cranky...) but I try to make up for that by eating really well and/or light. Sometimes it means I have to put myself first, leave work at five on the dot and head to the gym. Sometimes it means planning a date night with Ralph that isn't running or going to the gym.
The thing with life is things are constantly coming up, and no matter how much you plan you never know what's going to happen. The most important thing is keep working at it and never give up. So what if you have one bad day, or one bad week? If you let the bad times drag you down you will surely fail. But if you keep getting back up, if you keep pushing back, if you refuse to give in, than you will will always be succeeding.
So maybe this year was not as much of a failure as I had thought. After all I am now a certified coach, I spent an amazing season with Team Challenge meeting wonderful people. I got to help them achieve their own goals as well as spent some time learning about myself. I never gave up trying to fit in running. Sure I skipped out on a lot of workouts but even if I hadn't run in a week, I still kept at it. I still laced up my sneakers and kept on going.
The fact that I have been able to share and teach so much this year really makes me feel like I am doing something good. Sure I may not be out there training 50 miles a week, I may not be PR'ing left and right, but I am running smart, training right, and sharing as much with others as I can. More people around me are seeking out my advice, and it's only a matter of time before I am working with paid private clients.
You're going to have to wait until next month to see what my 2012 goals are!
How would you rate your 2011 running season? Did you have to deal with any set backs, was it full of achievements, a little bit of both?