The Anti-Goal

Happy 2015!

At the beginning of a new year, there is always a lot of discussion about what you would like to achieve for the next 12 months and beyond. I am usually a little hesitant around this time, as I tend to have goals that do not start from January, instead they start whenever the appropriate time is for me to achieve them….for example, starting marathon training 16 weeks before a marathon, or 12 weeks before the qualifying race for the NCAA national championships.

There is rarely a time that I am not working towards some kind of goal, and my overall, lifetime goal of representing Great Britain (or USA :P) in a major World Championship will always (until I get there), be in my mind. As runners, we are incredibly driven, and will give our best to whatever task we are taking on, which means we are always on a path towards some kind of goal.

With that being said, I am calling 2015 the year of the Anti-Goal.

I do not have a goal for 2015.

Okay, that may not be entirely true. I do not have any hard goals with time limits……but that does not sound anywhere near as rebellious as the anti-goal does it?

Everyone who has asked me what my goals are for 2015? My goals are to be healthy, race the London Marathon, and enjoy my 2015 year of running.

In the past, I have been obsessed with running a sub 2:40 marathon. Even more obsessed than I was with running a sub 16 5k, or qualifying for nationals like I did in college. This goal took on a whole new level. Why? Because not only did I go for it twice, and not get there (or even close), but I had to wait almost a year between attempts. That is a lot of time for your mind to go crazy with frustration.

One of the reasons I decided on London Marathon as my next marathon over Boston, was to take the pressure off myself; not from other people, but my own expectations. I have also chosen to run in the “championship section” rather than running with the elite women who are set off 30 minutes ahead. This was another commitment to this anti-goal.

Since Chicago Marathon, my primary focus has been on getting healthy, and fixing my running form. I have been working incredibly hard on every run to make sure my running form is improving, in addition to doing the exercises that the UVA Speed Clinic showed me. I have taken on a new Strength and Conditioning Coach, Drew Watts who is taking me back to the vey beginning with my exercises to make sure I do them right, to support these changes to my running, rather than undo the hard work by strengthening the wrong muscles.


As much as Steves shaky camera work allows (:p) you can see me literally re-learning how to do a squat! I will do a post in the future to show more about this.

We have also made sure my workouts have a focus on maintaining form, rather than running as hard as I can. Let me tell you, that is a strange sensation for me…..my entire trunk convulsing being the source of my pain, rather than my breathing or legs! Steve and I have been selecting workouts that purposely avoid any comparison; lots of hill runs on new courses, fartleks, and sustained efforts without a Garmin or mile markers.IMG_2799

This has all meant that I am not in great shape. I am running significantly slower than I have at this point in training in the past, and especially running 85-90 miles a week, I should be in much better fitness, but the reality is, I am not. I may have tempo-ed the Hangover Classic 10 mile on New Years Day, but whatever way you look at it, 6:04 pace is not exactly flying for someone who was shooting for that pace for an entire marathon.

Next week will be my last week of running, and then I will take 5 days completely off before beginning marathon training. Steve is a BIG believer in running the marathon segment fresh, and by the time I start up again, it will be 16 weeks out from London Marathon.

So, what does this long explanation come down to?

Letting go of pressure, letting go of expectations, and trying once again to “Take what your body gives you”- Steve Picucci, rather than having a set goal.

I know I will run a sub 2:40, and someday I will run a 2:30, but I do not know when either of those will be. It may be London, it may not, but either way, I am going to try my hardest to just go with the flow, and allow my body to adjust to my new running form and the new exercises, until I get there.

As long as you go out there, and do your best, that is all you can really ask of yourself. I know I will cross that finish line in London having given it my all, and I will let the time take care of itself to show what my body is ready for.

We all know those races we usually run the best (and enjoy the most) are those unexpected victories, and I am determined to be proud of myself whatever happens over the next few months. Buuuuttt for those races we tend to not really enjoy and some times lose our joy I have created the Mile 20 Mental Training Course to help you get back on course of what you enjoy the most about running.

Most of all, I want to be able to look back on this training segment, and the race itself, knowing that I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Chicago, and Philly was a train wreck. This time, it is all about embracing the challenges, and enjoying it. At the end of the day, is that not why we run?

Will you join me in rebellion by having an anti goal year? How are you changing your mindset this year?

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24 Comments. Leave new

  • Michele Rosen
    January 3, 2015 8:49 am

    I have also found that setting looser goals around the process makes more sense to me than setting time goals specifically. I think the former lends to a healthier approach to training, which, sort of should be the longer term goal 🙂 I also think it’s great to let the body rest right before going into a training cycle! I’m pretty much right there with you, with no tangible goals set for the new year, but rather a direction I’d like to take.

  • My goals are not specific times, but rather what I want to do to help myself become a stronger runner and how I want to get there. I agree about enjoying the process, it is a journey and all the steps that get you to your end goal are part of the story and part of what makes it so meaningful to you. It sounds like you are focusing on really important pieces that will strengthen your foundation and you have a great mindset – good luck!!!

  • I am not big on making resolutions either. My goal is to figure out how to run more injury free this year. I have a goal of living a healthy happy life. I love your attitude towards training. Happy New Year friend!

  • I set a couple of goal times for my upcoming half, I guess because it’s 2 weeks away and I got caught up in the frenzy of new year goals posts, but I’m really rethinking it. I guess it’s one thing to have a time goal for you, since you are an elite runner and hope to go to the Olympics. If running is a part of your job, it is different. I won’t qualify for anything in my half, although I would love to PR.

    But the other night, I was thinking about all the goals I have to set for my job, “SMART” goals and things like that for work. 99.9% of us will always be professionals in something other than running, and sometimes I think extremely focusing on a time means we’re not enjoying the journey of a sport that is supposed to be fun and take us away from the pressure cooker of work, school, life, etc.

  • Great perspective, Tina. Giving ourself a little wiggle room is so helpful. No need to stress over all the what ifs and how tos that our out of our control. Excited to see what 2015 has for you!

  • Good luck on resting and then starting training again. Sometimes it’s good not to have goals. I set most of mine on reflections and overall things to try to work on in the year rather than lots of hard deadlines or tasks.

  • I like this approach Tina! You know what you need and it’s good that you are listening and knowing yourself!

  • I love your plan instead of goal for 2015! I have no doubts that you will run much faster than 2:40 before it is all over!!!

  • Stephanie Felder
    January 3, 2015 11:13 pm

    I am SO with this! I am also hesitant to jump on the New Year New You bandwagon every January… I like the idea of having constant goals to reach. However as someone who writes about fitness, I often find myself telling other people to set goals for the new year! Go figure… Good luck with your training for London!

  • The Anti-Goal…I love it. I am doing the same thing this year. While I’m no elite, I definitely get bogged down in trying to get faster. I just want to put in the hard work but also focus on having FUN for all of my races planned for this year!

  • Christine @ Love, Life, Surf
    January 4, 2015 12:09 am

    I love the idea of an anti-goal and love your perspective Tina. I’m excited for you and all that 2015 has in store!

  • I do not do resolutions or set goals at the New Year, cause I am very similar to you in your mindset. Last year and this year, I like to choose a word that I am going to focus on. Last year was nourish and this year is “believe in LOVE”. Happy New Year friend and let’s rock whatever 2015 has in store for us! XOXO

  • I think that this is an excellent decision, and I support you wholeheartedly. Running TCM without putting that pressure on me of trying to make a time goal (per se)–rather just running for the enjoyment of doing it–the sheer incredible fact that we are capable of doing such things–it lead to an amazing experience and a fantastic improvement on my time. I think that when we learn to work on our issues, but also to relax and learn to FEEL what we are doing, that I think we find the best results. And I am so glad that you have decided not to run as elite in London–if you were to go back home, with all of that pressure, and have a tough race again, I think it would just gut you completely. But this will give you a bit more anonymity, a bit more freedom, and get you back in your comfort zone.
    I have a bit of a goal with Phoenix, but at the same time, I am having some struggles with my training at the moment. Regardless of what happens–if I BQ or not, I am just going to enjoy the opportunity. I am going with incredible people, on an incredible adventure, to do some extraordinary. My objective is just to enjoy it and be healthy!

  • I really love this. Doing the same exact thing.

  • LOVE THIS Tina! I think this is exactly the approach you need to break that 2:40 barrier initially. 🙂
    I’m not really a new year’s resolution type either. I think it’s true what you said that as runners, we’re pretty much always working to better ourselves. As for other areas of my life, if I need to make a change, I try to use the “why not today” approach, rather than setting a date in the future.

  • I don’t have a goal so I am here with you! I never really set goals or think about resolutions. I don’t have anything in mind for this fitness year other than to keep on running happy!

  • Thanks for the reminder about what rubbing is really about! I also don’t have a time goal & instead have mini process goals to improve overall. Here’s to an awesome 2015 for us all!

  • I much prefer setting goals without time limits. I know that’s not “smart” but I think it’s a healthier and balanced approach to running and life in general! Basically I love your anti-goal perspective 🙂

  • Thank you for this….I have never thought of it this way. It’s so true though! I don’t really make resolutions, I just set guidelines for things I would like to work on.

  • Awesome post, as always. I have two goals for 2015: run a full then run a 1:45 half… but I’m also focusing on things that will get me there: leaning out, strength, yoga, cross-training… actually following a training plan. I took basically all of last week off because my ankle was bothering me (I’m blaming it on 40 hilly trail miles more or less the week before) and my marathon training officially begins next Monday… so you’re making me feel better about my lack of running since that’s what the pros do 🙂 xoxo

  • My goals aren’t too tough this year either and are different than previous years other than to focus more on me and relaxing which I have never managed to do. This year I am just working on continuous improvement and having fun, so no expectations other than to challenge myself and have fun. I tried new things last year like Piyo I never thought I would like and found out I love it! First starting off with Insanity Max 30, haha doesn’t sound fun but more as a challenge as I never thought I would do an Insanity workout. As much as I love HIIT his seem crazy! Than running with the family and no numbers or limits just have fun and do better than I did the day before. I wanted to say if I wasn’t feeling something I would just stop and do something else but to me I think I would still consider that a fail so I have short goals and I can do anything for 30-60 days or whatever the time and if I don’t like it I finish it the best I can, finding the positives, and move on. So instead of a straight race to the end goal at the end of the year mine will be short sprints to the next block and then go whichever way life leads me. It would probably look like a race trying to finish a maze. Haha!

  • I will be looking forward to hearing more about how you are working on your running form. It’s something that I struggle with and need to spend time on it. You’re making important changes with your running and 2015 will be great year!

  • Carly Pizzani
    January 6, 2015 11:18 pm

    I love this, Tina! I think your anti-goals for 2015 are wonderful and I love that you’re getting back to basics. I’m so excited to follow along with your your training for London! And it didn’t even click for me until I read this post that sooner rather than later you’ll have two potential nations to run for – exciting! 🙂

  • Karla Bruning
    January 8, 2015 4:40 pm

    I love the anti-goal! In 2014, I made the realization that I run my best when I’m not imposing pressure on myself. So it’s time to embrace that. Cheers to the anti-goal!

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