2017 New Year’s Goals

For many people, the holiday season means Christmas, and they’re super excited. But to be perfectly candid, I don’t really love Christmas – it’s a pretty stressful time of year for me. However, I love what comes right after Christmas: the days leading up to New Year’s, when everyone is thinking about potential resolutions. What a great time of hope and possibilities!

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January 1st may be just another day, but I love the inspiration and positivity of a fresh start.

I’ve been noodling on various resolutions for a few weeks, trying to think about what I hope to accomplish in 2017. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but wanted to share some of my thoughts in the meantime. Who says a goal has to be concrete before you start putting it out there for ideas and encouragement?

I don’t think I want to sign on for another year of a challenge a month, like I did this year. While it did give me an opportunity to try a lot of new things, it felt like too much pressure to constantly be choosing another goal right after achieving the previous one. To some extent, that took away the power of the goal I was working on – knowing that as soon as I achieved one month’s goal, I’d just be onto the next one. My blog tagline is “every goal should have a happy hour at the finish line,” and I think this year I really missed out on that celebration and rest before diving into the next goal. I loved this article by Oliver Burkeman for Guardian, which talks about how productivity can lead to a depressing cycle:

“As for focusing on your long-term goals: the more you do that, the more of your daily life you spend feeling vaguely despondent that you have not yet achieved them. Should you manage to achieve one, the satisfaction is strikingly brief – then it’s time to set a new long-term goal.”

As much as I love goal setting and having something to work toward, I’m looking forward to a break from trying to come up with a new big goal, and instead focus on some smaller things.

Health and fitness are what a lot of people focus on for their new year’s resolutions, and those are definitely at the forefront of my mind right now. As I reflect back on 2016, I’m incredibly proud that I managed to drop more than three minutes from my 5K PR (last broken in 2008). I now consider myself to be a moderately fast runner, rather than average to back-of-the-pack, and that’s really exciting to me. There are still so many runners who are so much faster than me (especially here in Boulder), but running a 21:00 5K this fall was a really transformative experience for me. It reminded me that my 50by25 goal wasn’t a fluke; I can continue to exceed my own expectations if I don’t try to limit myself to what I believe I can achieve.

Overall, I’m really thrilled with how my fitness has progressed this year. My weight has stayed steady at five pounds lighter than where I was for the last few years. And on the functional front, at the classes I’ve been taking recently, I’m really proud of how I’ve been performing. At most classes, I’m taking the advanced modifications for most moves, and it feels great to challenge myself like that. At a bootcamp last week, my instructor asked if I was a pro athlete, and also said he’s going to start getting out heavier weights when I’m in the class. I was so flattered!

Even though I haven’t been running much, my fitness level is still pretty decent there. At a circuit workout this morning, I finished my circuits faster than the allotted time, so the instructor had me head over to the treadmill for some impromptu intervals: 60 second sprint, 60 second jog, repeat until one mile was up. I sprinted at 9.0mph (6:40/mile) and jogged at 6.0mph (10:00/mile), and was pleasantly surprised to find how well I recovered even while still jogging. It was just a short stint of running (took me 7:50 to hit the one mile mark), but I’d love to try doing those intervals for three miles or so in a future workout.

So for 2017, I am going to get very aggressive with one goal. I want to PR in the 5K again in 2017 – yes, even though I already crushed my PR by a lot already this year. And, being really bold, I want to see if I can go sub-20:00 in the 5K. I know that the faster you get, the harder it is to get even faster (Wired did a fascinating piece on the sub-2 hour full marathon), but I think I still have some untapped speed left in me. I ran hard at Drawchange 5K, but I still think I could go harder, especially with more training.

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I am so, so, so proud of this win in 2016.

Now I just have to commit to actually going running instead of just going to my beloved classes. :( But sometimes the best way to commit to training for a race is to just sign up for one… so this morning, I registered for the Winter Series Six Pack in Westminster, pretty close to my house. It’s six races that vary in distance, where you start a little shorter and end a little longer. I’ll be running three 5Ks, then a 4 miler, 5 miler, and finally a 10K. Should be fun – especially with a pint glass at the finish of each one! If you’re local to Colorado, sign up here to join the fun.

And as for my other goals? Well, I’m going to once again aim to read 100 books this year (I’m currently on track to reach my 100 book goal for 2016 – just 1.5 to go!). Otherwise, though, I’m not yet sure what 2017 will bring – but I’m excited to find out.

Comments

  1. I’m dying over here as I read this goal. Did you make this goal with the intention of killing me?

    A few things:
    1. PRs only become tougher the closer one gets to the human potential. I don’t think you’ll ever run a 14:45 road 5K like Molly Huddle (you just started too late!), but as long as you want to pr in the 5K, time will keep dropping off in chunks until some point between 18and19 minutes (or perhaps lower with your background in all the marathons…). You heard it here first.
    2. That In-and-out workout is one of my favs. If you do get to 3 miles (you will!), or 10 reps (whatever comes first) as it is structured, then let me know and we’ll fine tune it for a fast 5K.
    3. You’ll break 20 minutes some point in the next 3 months (before April 1st)….and probably not the last week either. That’s just my prediction.

    • Danny, I was really nervous to put this goal out there, as I am not totally sure I can achieve it. Adam constantly reminded me that improvements get smaller and smaller as you get faster, and when I floated in August the goal of potentially going sub-20 to him, he thought that was WAY too aggressive and that I shouldn’t set my sights so high. So your confidence in my ability is really refreshing – I appreciate the encouragement!

      I am very intrigued by your prediction – but not quite so confident myself. I should also add that all the races I’m signed up for right now are in Colorado, where my PR is only 22:33. That’s a far cry from the 21:00 I ran in Atlanta a few weeks later! I am fully expecting that I’ll need to go down to sea level to go sub-20, so my goal is to use the Colorado races as tune ups. My thinking is if I can eventually go sub-21 here, I’ll feel good about trying for sub-20 somewhere else?? Altitude just makes SUCH a difference…

  2. If we’re strong enough to strive for big goals, then doesn’t that also mean we are strong enough to handle the disappointment of missing a goal? Or strong enough to think: “well, looks like I need to try again?”

    As Randy Pausch was quoted in the The Last Lecture: “brick walls aren’t there to stop us, but to see how badly we really want it.” (actually I think he said, to keep everyone else out that doesn’t want it as badly – kinda the same)

    My April first prediction wasn’t necessarily that you’d meet the goal in one of the Winter Race Series races, but that you may sign up for some weekend race somewhere else in your travels in the next three months!

    Please don’t take these next statements as negatives. I have never denied Adam’s statement that PRs become smaller the faster we get. I make my predictions for other physiological reasons. One, you have developed a strong, aerobic base over the years (all the marathons, fitness classes, etc) that has taught your body it can absorb the stress loads of performance training. Two, (I don’t think) you have spent a long block of time/training to break through a performance *plateau*. Three, the longer you are at altitude the more comfortable you will be at racing at altitude. Four, (mentally) the goal doesn’t define you, but rather as a means of seeing what are your limits.

    • I agree that we shouldn’t be afraid of setting our goals too high. I think it’s indicative of a person’s mindset to see which helps them more: setting an easy goal that they can definitely meet or possibly exceed, or setting a difficult goal for which it would be a success to get halfway there? Last fall when I was training, I definitely preferred being able to meet/exceed the running goals I set, at least in individual workouts. When I had a workout where I couldn’t keep up, I felt like a failure.

      I have DEFINITELY not spent a long block of training – my two months this past fall is really the only time I’ve dedicated myself to running training :) As for the altitude, we’ll have to see where I end up traveling for my next project…

      I love that last line a LOT. Writing it down because you said it so beautifully!

    • Thank you, Laura, for the kind words.

  3. That is an amazing goal, Laura! I’m always thrilled when I can break 30 minutes for a 5k (said the solidly middle of the packer, with pride)!

    • That used to be about my pace, too! I have been shocked at how much I’ve been able to improve.

      That said, I just did 2.5 miles on the treadmill at an 8:30 pace and it was a STRUGGLE. Hopefully I’m not more out of running shape right now than I think!

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