Power of 3: 3 goals for 3 months

I have an endless amount of things on my mind now that I've signed up for the Richmond Marathon.  

Some of those things include how I tried to rush training for an April marathon, but completely failed; how I pushed through an illness when I shouldn't have; and how I need to lose weight ... but all those things are negative. I need more constructive ways to talk about those without putting myself down. 

Instead, I'm looking at the big picture for the first time in a while. If I'm going to be successful for the rest of 2017, I need to take a few steps to outline some general goals. 

What's below is not something I'm setting in stone. The only month that I'll go into more detail soon is April, and even that may change over the next few days.  

Keep in mind these are broad and not specific, and that there are many other pieces to this path that may not even make it to the blog.  

Here's where my mind is now... 

April: More miles than March. Long run back to an hour. At least one week of 20 miles.  

May: long run back to 10 miles. All weeks at 20 or more miles. At least two cross training exercises a week.   

June: At least two weeks of 25 miles. Long run of at least a half marathon. Run a race.  

What my March goals really mean

A few weeks ago, I set some March goals that seemed easy enough to just get through the month after a lot of struggles in February. 

Those goals, though, have turned into having so much more meaning than I ever thought possible. 

With a week to go in the month, here's how their meanings have transpired: 

1. "Run half the days of the month" really meant getting consistency back. It also meant to stop caring about pace or distance. JUST RUN at least a couple of miles on those runs. The overall better fitness, longer distances and faster paces will come eventually. Just shut up and run without any more excuses. 

2. "Post a daily running-related photo to Instagram" meant to look around more not just on my runs, but to explore my old photos and other things sitting around my house. This goal has forced me to think more about the things that have made me happy, and bring up some memories that I had voided in my mind for a while.

3. "Blog at least 6 times" meant doing one of my favorite things about running -- writing and talking more about it. This is my seventh post of the month; I haven't blogged more than that in a month since October. And I'm not forcing these posts. I'm opening up my computer, putting on music and typing. I don't know if this will continue or not, but I know it's helped me tremendously on my runs thinking about what to write next. 

In need of competition

A little more than 10 years ago, a good friend and I did a ton of races together. We'd always start together, then he'd have an extra little kick at the end and finish ahead of me.

That always motivated me to push a little harder, and with each race I was always just a step closer to him. That friend also come up with a goal around the time we started doing something beyond 5Ks ... run a marathon before he turned 30. 

At the time, that was insane to me. A 10K? Sure. A 10 miler? OK, fine. A half marathon even ... not too crazy of an idea. I wasn't going to take that step to a marathon. 

Injuries, unfortunately, prevented my friend from hitting that goal. I, however, just kept pushing a little bit harder and ended up crossing my first marathon finish line when I was 29. 

Nearing the end of the Richmond Marathon in 2007. 

Nearing the end of the Richmond Marathon in 2007. 

It was a goal I never intended on having, but that friendly competition he and I started drove me to running my first marathon before I entered my 30s. I also believe that friendly competition kept me going for the next several years as I eventually beat my other race times and ran more marathons. (My friend eventually did run a marathon, but we don't stay in that great of contact anymore.) 

That competition also carried over with other people I came across, especially during a span where I was running with co-workers in Roanoke. We were never in direct competition, but we forced each other to work harder. 

But now here I am nearly five years after anything good happened with running and I'm finally realizing that I have no competition. I've separated myself too much from running with other people, and have boxed myself into an uncomfortable corner. 

I want to get better ... I want to run fast again ... I want to run a marathon again ... 

But I stopped talking about those things ... I stopped coming up with real goals ... I stopped competing against MYSELF. 

I don't need other people to make me stronger and faster, but it's important that I stop running completely solo. That friendly competition from years ago was never about the other people, but those other people helped me focus on me.

I've said it many times over the years, but running is a team sport and I need to start leaning on my friends both in person and online more as I begin to set new goals and move beyond this dreadful winter.