Having your first child makes you think. Besides all of the learning that needs to be done and all of the new experiences, it makes you examine yourself - your beliefs, your motives, your ability to provide, your drive to succeed, etc...at least it has for me anyway. Our daughter Addison was born about 6 weeks ago and I would say I've done a lot of soul-searching since then. Do I have what it takes...in any area of life?
A big part of my life - or at least an important part of my life - is running. I would say I've been a "serious" runner now for about 2 1/2 years. I've run a few half marathons and broke my marathon cherry last fall. In terms of experience, I've run all of the various race distances and decided what I like and dislike. In terms of training I've figured out what works for me and what leads to injury. As part of this general soul-searching that has been going on I have inevitably considered the running part of my life and asked myself "what do I want out of this?"
I think I've come to the conclusion that I want more out of this. I'm 29 years old and I want to stay in shape. Beyond that, I think I have a little bit of God-given running talent and I'd like to see how good I can get. In talking with my brother (who is himself an avid runner and sub-3:00 marathoner) and from reading books, I believe the key to improving my times is simple: dedication and time. As with any pursuit in life, if you want to get better at it, you've got to spend more time doing it and you've got to clear away (or make more room for) other things in order to spend more time doing the thing you want to get better at.
So - it all starts with desire. How much do I want it? What am I willing to sacrifice to become a better/faster runner? I think for me, the desire is there. I want to improve and I'm willing to put in the work. I think another thing that helps to keep the flame of desire burning is having goals. So I need to make some goals:
Goal #1: Run at least 3 more races this summer - could be anything from a 5K to a Half Marathon
Sub-goals: Depending on the length of races -- current goals are
-- 5K: sub-19:00
-- 10K: sub-40:00
Goal #2: Train well for the Prairie State Half-Marathon on October 12th (already signed up) with the goal of running under 1:27:00 (6:38/mile).
Goal #3: Continue with regular weekly mileage -- minimum of 25/week but ideally working up to ~40-45 miles/week. Currently at 30 miles/week.
Goal #4: Get involved with some sort of team. Whether it's a local running club or getting a running coach - I think one of the keys to maintaining interest in this sport is doing it with others.
Desire + Goals = Achievement...most of the time anyway.