Exiting the Comfort Zone

In reflecting over the past year of running, I can’t help but be disappointed with my race (and even training) performances. 2012 started off with a bang, knocking out a 5K PR on the first day of the year and a 23-minute half marathon PR on the last weekend of the month.

After that though? Things sort of fizzled out. My half marathon times gradually slowed, I stopped racing shorter distances, and after a not surprisingly spring burnout, I ran myself right into my first ever DNF at the New Jersey Marathon. After getting my ass kicked at the Spartan Race, I took a full month off of running. This ended up renewing my love for the sport and fueled the fire to begin training for the Philadelphia Marathon.

Halfway through July I began to reassess my goal time for Philly. The 90-degree evenings were beginning to take their toll on me at the track and my long-run pace was nowhere near what it should have been. I’m not the fastest runner to begin with, so to say this was discouraging is an understatement.

Once September rolled around, I threw all pace goals out the window. My goal for Philly was to finish. I registered Brad and I for the Austin Distance Challenge, putting races on our calendar every month through the middle of February. We knocked out a 10K and 10-miler in October, I ran Philly in November, and then finished an incredibly hilly half marathon in December. I closed out my running year on December 29th with the Operation Jack 10K, as I do every year.

So now I’m here. It’s January 8, 2013 and I’ve got a blank slate for the year. So how am I going to tackle it?

Here’s the plan:

  1. {spring} Focus on the half marathon distance. I really want to get my PR (2:14) down. Ideally, I’d like to get it under 2:10 at the Long Branch 1/2 Marathon in May. (NJ Marathon course redemption? I think so.) I have 3 half marathons in between now and then (3M, Austin, and ZOOMA) but plan to use those as training runs. Long Branch will be my spring goal race.
  2. {fall} run FAST. Yeah, this one is kinda huge. A sub-2 half marathon. Coming from someone with a (year old) 2:14 half PR, it’s terrifying to consider crossing that finish line in 1:59:59 or less. Sure, I have other race goals for the year – but this is the important one. Before December 31, 2013, I would like a sub-2 half under my belt. The race is TBD but I have the Shiner Beer Run tentatively penciled in. Any other suggestions for a fast fall half marathon? Open to traveling!
  3. Do NOT register for any full marathons. This one directly stems from item 2. I would like my half PR to be under 2 hours before registering for another full marathon. In other words, I’m shelving the 26.2 distance until 2014.
  4. Stop running races just to finish. Do you know what kind of problem this is? An expensive one. The city of Austin makes it incredibly hard for me to resist clicking that “Register” button. Obviously you can’t commit to racing every.single.race you enter, but I need to work on managing my schedule better. 4 half marathon in 4 months? Not necessary. It definitely makes achieving my goals harder by putting this much stress on my body. This being said, I probably need to adjust my 13 Races in 2013 goal. Quality > Quantity.
  5. Find the perfect pair of running shoes. Good lord, I’ve been searching long enough. Right now I’m running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12. Great shoe that keeps my shin splints at bay, but my arches HATE me after about 3 miles. Lose one pain, gain another. I also have a pair of the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 that I bought back in November. They’re still in the box, with a fresh pair of Oiselle laces, ready to go! I’ll probably test them out at the end of January and hopefully (as long as I’m shin splint free) use them for the Long Branch 1/2 training cycle. Maybe they’ll be my perfect pair? Only time will tell but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
  6. Dig deep & exit the comfort zone. While reviewing my current PRs, I noticed the paces are VERY similar. {5K 9:29, 10K 9:55, 13.1 10:13} I nearly hit my 10K PR during 3M last year! I’d love to drop the 5K pace to high 8’s, 10K to low 9’s and 13.1… well you know where I want that one to be. I know I have more in me, but I need to dig deep, push harder, and exit the comfort zone. I need it to feel uncomfortably hard. I need to really RACE.

So that’s it. My running goals for 2013. My list of non-running goals is a work in progress, but I’m getting there. The running ones absolutely deserved their own post though – hey, this is Melissa RUNS after all.

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  1. Sarah
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarah_messer

    Great post! Love your goals, probably because mine are similar. I’m looking to sub-2 the half this year too. I also love your perspective on “running races just to finish”. It IS an expensive problem, one I don’t consider enough. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll rock these!
    Sarah recently posted…Icy Long Runs, Grilled Cheese & HockeyMy Profile

    • Thanks Sarah! I love running races so much and feel like I’m missing out if I skip one, so this will be a tough goal to accomplish. Hope you’re able to hit your sub-2 goal in 2013 🙂 run fast girl!

  2. Great goals. I’m with you on not racing just to race. I don’t want to think about how much I spent on race fees last year and I’m trying to be more strategic in what races I do in 2013. For a fall half, I’ve run Rock & Roll Philly the past two years and the course is PR friendly. It’s pretty much flat, with the exception of the last .1 mile coming up past the Art Museum from the MLK Drive (same as where the half and full split in the Philadelphia Marathon).
    Maureen recently posted…Let’s Get to WorkMy Profile

    • I remember hearing about a TON of PRs coming out of that race this past year. I’ll have to look into it – thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  3. OHH stop running just to finish, I think you just hit me over the head. I also made a deal with myself to stop doing races just because someone wants me to, I am really focusing on that PR!
    Amanda @RunToTheFinish recently posted…How to use affirmations and 67 free examples!My Profile

    • Sometimes it’s just SO hard to pass up a race! The promise of a medal taunts me. Stay strong & get that PR Amanda! 🙂

  4. Great post. I think it is important to focus on one goal at a time! And it is weird how a 10k pace can be the same (or slower in my case) than a half marathon pace. Awful distance. I will definitely stop racing those just to finish! lol
    Ashley @ Running Bun recently posted…Pro Compression GiveawayMy Profile

    • 10K really is terrible! You can’t go out as fast as you do in a 5K, but you don’t need to reel the speed in like during a half. HOW DO YOU PACE YOURSELF?! If you find out, please teach me.

  5. I love these goals!! I’m goin for asub-2 half this year too, and I know we both can do it!

  6. you had me at “half pr” and “shiner beer run”. still SO impressed with that half PR of yours. i believe that sub 2 is yours, just have to buckle down and go for it. be fearless! also.. shiner beer run?!?! yes please!
    courtney recently posted…an altitude calculator, it does exist! 3M prediction & course preview.My Profile

    • Thanks girl! I credit your pep-talk for giving me the courage to push harder to get that PR 🙂 so thank you!!

      Maybe you’ll have to come back to ATX in the fall for the Shiner race? I know somewhere you could stay 😉

  7. also, give the brooks launch a whirl if you haven’t already. i found myself in a pair after CIM. love at first run.
    courtney recently posted…an altitude calculator, it does exist! 3M prediction & course preview.My Profile

  8. Great goals for 2013! R’n’R Philly is a fast 1/2 course for the fall. All either downhill or flat, I can’t remember a single hill in the entire race. Everyone I know (except me, off day) PR’d that course.
    Amy recently posted…Oh hey workoutsMy Profile

  9. I am so with you on these goals. 2013 is the year that I skip the full marathon in search of a half PR.
    Cheering you on Lady! I know that we can both do this 🙂
    Amanda recently posted…This is why…My Profile

  10. I love this post, I think your goals are all realistic. I’ve been on the hunt for a new shoe too after running in the Brooks Adrenaline (which aggravated my IT band something fierce). I’ve just switched to the Saucony Mirage which seem to be working great, they offer a bit of support, but not too much.
    Steph @ Steph Runs On recently posted…2012, The Year I Learned To Love RunningMy Profile

    • Thanks Steph! Lauren from Health on the Run loves the Mirages too. I am just worried about longer runs – what’s the longest you’ve done so far in them?

  11. Melissa @mypeachlife

    I am chasing a sub 2 half also. I feel into the same traps as you. I started running races just to finish and during my “training” runs I stopped really pushing myself. If I started breathing hard then I slowed down, if my legs were tired, I slowed down, and because of this my race times have suffered. I am currently training for my second marathon and my mantra for my runs has been “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” My times are improving and I am falling in love with running again, I even have a new love for sprint work. Check out the FIRST training program, I think it is great.
    Melissa @mypeachlife recently posted…Great StartMy Profile

    • The FIRST plan is awesome!! I came across it a couple years ago and it’s been my go-to plan ever since. I have trouble running on back-to-back days so 3x a week is perfect! Track work is SO hard but good lord does it work.

      Get that sub-2 girl, you’ve definitely got it in you! run FAST 🙂

  12. Sub 2 is staring me in the face. And I’m terrified of it! Mostly because of the whole “running fast(er) deal. But I think you can definitely get it this year!

    If you’re looking for a fast/flat half marathon in the fall, I hear Ohio has a few….
    Chelsea recently posted…3M Half PrepMy Profile

  13. I loved reading your goals! You’ll definitely hit sub-2 this year, I am SURE of it. I’m avoiding the 26.2 until the fall myself and trying to get faster in the mean time, so I feel you.
    Kori recently posted…Jackie Warner and the January Cure.My Profile

  14. I love your goals! It’s so good to have clear, concrete goals you can easily pursue. Things like getting out of your comfort zone and getting the right shoes are things I started to concentrate on at the end of last year. I got the shoes, but still need to work on pushing out of my comfort zone!
    Jen @ Jens Best Life recently posted…My New Obsession: Healthy Living AppsMy Profile

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