A few months ago I was all gung ho about a scaled back plan: to get my 10K under 60 minutes. See my post about using a running app to get me there. It was such a great app and such a seemingly do-able plan. Especially since I trimmed away all other plans so I could focus on it.
Triathlon training went to the wayside this summer and I cancelled my races because 1. life got difficult, 2. my cycling on the road phobia got super intense, and 3. I planned badly by doing the Around the Bay 30K and the Mississauga Marathon just five weeks apart early in the season and it sapped all of my energy.
But then things just kept being tough. I spent the summer adjusting to living alone again after Renald retired and moved onto the boat, sailing it up from the Bahamas to Annapolis in May, and then on to Newport RI for most of the summer while I started a new position at work. We talked a lot and I visited when I could, but in general the whole thing was harder than I’d expected. After being together for 17 years it was tough to live my day to day life alone again and I felt sad and unmotivated for much of the summer.
I decided to prioritize sleep, which meant that I pretty much never made it to the pool for those 6 a.m. swims. So the running became the focus of my training with the 10K plan. Goal race: the MEC 10K on October 31st.
I was fairly on track with the training until near the end of August, when I went to Newport and we sailed the boat down to Manhattan (awesome!) and walked our feet off for a few days in one of our favourite cities. But okay, I know I can recover from a week of missed running.
But then two days after I got back, my condo got flooded. I mean totally destroyed so that after a few days the restoration company in charge of the main repairs (it wasn’t just my unit) told me and over 20 other owners that we would need to move out and have all of our stuff packed into storage so they could fix the damage.
So right when classes started (because that was Labour Day Weekend), I was living in a destroyed condo and then had to find a furnished rental and take what I could take, which wasn’t a lot because the elevators were severely damaged in the flood and only one was operating. That meant no one could really reserve it for a major move. You could just move out some clothes and maybe some groceries.
That set my training back quite a bit.
And of course I forgot about the consistent sleep deprivation I struggled with through the summer until I did myself a HUGE favour and went for HRT (best decision of the summer).
So that’s the sad tale leading up to the revision of the sub-60 10K goal because, quite frankly, it became clear to me that there was just no way. That would have required sustaining a 6:00/K pace for 10K. I couldn’t even sustain that pace for 1K.
On race day last Saturday, I showed up hoping for a sub-65 10K, which still would have been a personal best. I met up with one of my training buddies, Julie, who is faster than me but didn’t have a serious goal in mind for the race. In the end, neither of us broke 65 minutes, though Julie came in about 15 seconds ahead of me.
I have to say that for all I’ve written about scaling back and dealing with set-backs, and for all of the positive congrats from my friends after the race, I felt seriously disappointed. Not only did I fail to meet my first goal. I even failed to meet my second goal. I didn’t even surpass my time from last Halloween.
I felt so shitty about it that when Sam asked if I was going to write about it I said, “no.” Why would I want to write about failure? Not especially inspiring or uplifting (especially with my crappy attitude).
The thing is, if I want to be truthful, I have to accept that my training fell apart completely from Labour Day weekend until Halloween. I mean, I got in a couple of runs a week most weeks, but I did no speed work or any systematic plan. I just went out when I could, did a few longer runs with friends on the weekends, and knew full well that I wasn’t getting faster.
But that’s what happens when you don’t do anything to get faster. So why should I feel so disappointed at failing to meet a goal that I bailed partway through training for?
I think in this case I feel super disappointed in the fact that I didn’t stick with the training. I also feel kind of hopeless about the prospect of ever getting faster. People always say you can get faster, but really? I’ve basically stayed the same speed for over a year. In some ways, I’m afraid to give it a more serious go because what if even with that effort nothing happens?
And then there’s the whole question of “who cares?” I know people put this to me all the time. I’m not about to win or even place (this I know), so what’s the big deal about getting faster? In my case, I’m motivated by the idea of doing better. I grew up with that idea and I apply it in all areas of my life.
I’m not saying it’s a value that makes me feel good. Intellectually–or maybe it’s more spiritually –, when I get to really reflect on what’s important to me, the whole idea of “doing better” all the time leaves me cold. When do we get to just enjoy without feeling the need to do better?
But if I’m going to “just enjoy,” then what is the point of signing up for timed events? Isn’t the whole thing of it to see if I’ve made any progress? How else can you even tell if the training is paying off?
As you can see, my attitude is still a bit sideways. I know I’ll get over it. But yes, I’m disappointed in the result. And I feel frustrated and a bit sad about it. With all the challenges lately, it would have been nice to have a little boost on Saturday in the form of a personal best.
Sometimes I worry that I’m one of those non-responders Sam has written about–the people who can train and train and yet never see any changes or results.
But then I need to think about what really matters and what is really important to me. I say I don’t only train for results. There are lots of intrinsic rewards. If I really found out I was a non-responder, would I keep at it? I like to think I would. But deep down (or even not so deep down), I know that I keep at it in part because I want to do better, get faster, place higher.
Have you ever set a goal that you failed to meet? If you did, what did you do next?