Goal Setting from the Injured Reserve List

It’s late January and I’m only barely thinking about goals for the year. I found January 1st to be pretty hard, from a running perspective. I had no idea the plantar fasciitis was going to take me out of action for nearly three months. I mean, three days, maybe. Three weeks at the very worst. Not three months. So, when everyone started throwing around their goals for the year, I was pretty quiet. Which was better than the alternative, which was just plain grouchy and a little bit mean. If I had had to hear about the difference between “goals” and “resolutions” one more time, I was going to punch someone. I’d really like to know, if fewer than 10% of people who make “resolutions” actually keep them, are the numbers any better for people who “set goals”? I kind of doubt it.

Yup, there’s the grouchiness again. I am someone who likes to “set goals” or “make resolutions” or “plan” or whatever you care to call it. What races will I be able to do this spring, if any? I have no idea. My number one running goal for last year was a new marathon PR and I did not achieve that, with Vermont City foiled by heat and a DNS for Philadelphia. On the other hand, I am running again and I have a new coach and I am feeling pretty hopeful overall, without feeling like I am exactly in a position to “set goals” beyond my longer term goal of qualifying for Boston. So things aren’t all bad, by any means, but how does a planner make a plan in this situation?

My number one goal is obviously to return to healthy running and I’m on my way there. I’ve been discharged from PT and I’ve run outside a couple of times, even as long as 40 minutes. So I’m on my way. But goal setting? What does that look like? With the idea that I am not the only runner in this position and perhaps to reinforce my own efforts at patience, here is how goal setting is going for 2017.

Races: I’ve actually already got two races on the agenda for summer: Ragnar Pennsylvania as part of an ultra team with some of the Albany Running Mamas (Team Ultralicious!) in early June and the Spartan Super at Barre with Rooster in early August. These events share three important features for goal setting from the returning-from-injury perspective: 1) They are far in the future so presumably my foot will be better; 2) They are not things I have done before so I have no point of comparison; 3) I have no time goal for either one – these are to run with friends just for fun. Last time I made an injury comeback, I dabbled in triathlon and duathlon and tried a Warrior Dash. For me, it’s really good to do something different.

Community/Family goals: I tend to race a lot and volunteer not so much at all. So another 2017 goal is to volunteer for at least two races. This one seems like it shouldn’t be too hard, but my own running already takes me away from family pretty often and I end up feeling guilty about missing family time “just” to volunteer. Still, my gang is very accommodating and if I say I want to do this, they will be fine with it. If there are free t-shirts to be had, they might even come with me. The other long-standing goal in this category is to run a race with Rose. I’ve run lots of times with Aidan but Rose never wants to do even a kids race. So I will try again this year because I would be delighted to cross any finish line at all running next to my girl. I set this same goal annually and I have yet to achieve it, but that is okay with me. It serves as a reminder that our achievements are not 100% under our control and that is all right. It’s a placeholder for self-forgiveness and flexibility.

Blog more: I am not really sure why I have revived the blog or why I am suddenly posting so regularly, but it seems to be something I want to do, so I might as well make it a goal. It seems to be spilling over into more productive academic writing, which was in the back of my mind as a possibility. I love running and talking about running and reading about running and writing about running. I suspect my friends and family will get sick of listening to me if I don’t create some kind of other outlet, so here it is.

Weight loss: Why is it so scary and weird to talk about this? Weight loss is apparently the number one most popular resolution goal and guess what? It is one of mine as well. Does this mean I lack self-love or am all judgey about everyone out there who weighs more (or less) than I do? I don’t think so. I think I look fine and I’m pretty sure I’m within a healthy range for whatever metrics measure that sort of thing. I also know being lighter makes you faster. I lift enough weights to understand why that might be so and I am keen to get faster. So yeah, like many of my fellow Americans, I’d like to lose some weight. This project is really hard, at least for me, but the scale is slowly heading in the right direction.

Race goals with times attached? I think this one has to wait awhile.

How are your goals coming along? Or if you’re injured, what are you doing about goal setting?

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