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?


“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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