Goals, Expectations, and Happiness

I’ve had so many thoughts about racing over the past month, but I’ve struggled to get down any words. Here’s my attempt. Warning: this might be a long one…

I spend 2+ hours commuting each day. To make it less of a drag, I listen to podcasts while driving; some wellness, self-help and motivation, some psychology, a lot of health and fitness, and a tooonnnn of running ones. About a month ago, I was listening to a running podcast on my way to work, when I got my first little panic attack – heart racing, shortness of breath, fear swept over me. I was thinking about the Idaho Triple Crown, the races I had coming up very shortly.
The Idaho Triple Crown is a challenge to do 3 marathons over the summer – Teton Dam Marathon (June 3), Idaho Falls MAD Marathon (July 29), and Pocatello Bridging the Gap Marathon (September 2). Pocatello is also a Boston Qualifier (eep!). 

After a few moments, the small freak out subsided and I chased out the doubts in my head… until I resumed listening to another one on my way home from work. For the next few days, as I listened to these running podcasts and visualized racing, I continued to panic.
Why was I becoming afraid of something that I had worked so hard for? Something I had spent countless hours on? Something I was so confident in? Why was I second guessing my training and abilities? Why was I terror-struck about doing something I had been looking forward to for months, something I love?

One of my role models is Tina Muir. Recently she has started a “No Watch Me” movement, aka running by effort instead of looking at the time on the watch. As I was experiencing all of my distraught feelings and self doubts, I decided to give this a try. “Why not,” I thought. That weekend I had a 20-miler scheduled, so I decided to try out just running.
Last year, I trained with a dinky little digital watch (shout out to Tate for finding that in an old box). I actually forgot it on race day, so everything was by effort, and I crushed my goal. But since then, I’ve depended on my Garmin… Was running without a piece of technology telling me how fast to go even possible anymore?!

So there I went. I turned on Tina Muir’s Running4Real podcast with Dr. Bhrett McCabe and just ran. But it wasn’t just a run. It was an “aha!” moment.

In that podcast, Dr. McCabe talks about goals, desires and expectations, and the big question: what is it that we really want?
…So, what do I want? I want to run. Why do I want it?
I realized what I wanted was to run to feel the sense of accomplishment, the runners high, the mental clarity and focus that running so graciously gave to me. This is why I fell in love with the sport in the first place… But I had been training so hard, for so long, so why was that gone? Why had those feelings subsided?

Expectations.

“Training is like investing in yourself, but you are not entitled to a good performance. Get out of that expectations mindset.”
I set a goal, and had trained hard. I was expecting myself to do well and believed others were expecting that as well, because of all the training and success I had seen thus far. I had some fantastic training runs that made me proud and created that sense of entitlement within me – entitled to crush goals, run fast, and win races. So when I started to doubt my training, I panicked. When I started to panic, I my training started to suffer. It was a downward spiral that caused those two weeks of panic, doubts, and insecurities.

That 20-miler without looking at my watch was the first time I had felt that runners high in a while. It was the first time I had a run that felt good and stress-free. That “No Watch Me” run helped me realize that the numbers on my little purple Garmin watch were giving me a false sense of happiness.
I realized that all the stress I was putting on myself to “succeed” was sucking the happiness and joy out of the sport.
I realized that my happiness and success isn’t determined by how fast I can run X-amount of miles. The real happiness came when I was doing what I loved, without the stress. When I was able to be outside enjoying the spring sun. When I just ran.

For this reason, I have let go of my time goals for Teton Dam and Idaho Falls MAD marathons. I’m going #NoWatchMe for these runs (well, I’ll be wearing my watch to look at stats after, but you know what I mean). I’m focusing on using these more as training runs, time on my feet, and being happy, taking in all I can, while racing. I’m saving my hard efforts for the Pocatello Marathon, aka my chance to BQ (for my age group, I must finish in under 3:35:00). 

6 days until the Teton dam marathon, (YES ONLY 6!) and I can’t wait to go out and ENJOY the run. My goal? Have fun and finish. If i PR, that’s a plus, but as long as I enjoy it, I believe it will be a successful race.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”

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