Adventure Writings and Training Thoughts
Setting Goals and Chasing After Them (1-3-22)
Disclaimer: If you've only been running a short time, I'd highly recommend getting a coach to help you choose goals and create training plans. Most coaches offer online options and tiered programs, based on skill level and time available. There are also a number of great books and training plans available, if jumping right to a coach is too big an investment right now. I'd be happy to recommend some coaches if you are interested in one and for training plans my top choice is: https://higherrunning.com/
With that said, let's talk about goal setting!
Take some time to dwell on all of your potential goals. As someone who loves planning and goal setting, I struggle with being patient and taking down time. Knowing this about myself, I've recently enforced a period of easy base training after the end of my season (i.e. peak race/goal/FKT/series of races) where I look back at how the current season has gone and then think about all of the possible goals to set for the next season. Even if you have goals in mind right away, I highly recommend a pause and reflection period. Just this past month my initial goals were completely changed for the next season after a few weeks of reflection and dreaming.
Think about and select goals that excite you. This what I'd call the 'looking forward' part of choosing. The key motivating factor for me in training for goals is how much the completion of, or merely attempt of them, gets me excited. It's okay to dream big here! I like to choose only 1 or 2 big goals for a year, usually 1 per season with a Spring and Fall season. That big goal might be a single race or FKT attempt, or it could be an overall placement in a series of races, but it's something that should get you stoked just thinking about it (and yeah, usually a little nervous too!) If you come up with a whole list of goals in this step, that's great. Next we'll cover how to select which one of these potential goals to tackle first, but don't worry, there's always next season to go after more goals!
Think about and select goals that make logical sense for you. This is what I'd call the 'looking back' part of choosing. Now that you've got some goals in mind that excite you, you'll apply this step. Looking at your recent training and racing, start to determine which goals will be logical steps forward from where you're at currently. A coach or some wise training partners to bounce ideas off of can really help here, because some of us struggle with choosing big enough goals and some of us want to jump to improbable heights every season, I fit into to the latter column! Even without someone else to help with this step though, you can tackle this by making a summary of your last few seasons of training and listing the peak volume and goals achieved. Now, take a look at your dream goals and pick the one(s) that will require a step or two up in training from last season, but not 3-4 steps up. For instance; say you're big goal race last season was a half marathon and right now you're really excited about a signing up for your first 100 miler, but you do also have your eye on a local trail 50k and road marathon. Both the marathon and the 50k will require increased training loads to prepare for, but the 100 miler might require a much bigger load right away and might be a more logical step in a following season. They all excite you, but you can select which ones to go after first based on what makes the most sense in this next season.
Plan out your key training sessions leading up to the big goal. If you're working with a coach or following a training plan, then you might not be the one actually choosing these workouts, but I'd still advise posting them in a visible place that you can look at daily. I don't personally write down every single day's training leading up to a goal, but I do have a physical calendar tacked on the wall with my bigger workout sessions written down for the entire training block leading up to my goal(s). I do this for a couple of reasons. First, seeing this every day helps keep me focused on that overall goal, which helps me stay excited for it. Second, seeing what I need to do in each week as I go helps the work seem more manageable and bite-sized.
Give yourself room to grow and fail sometimes. Google only expects to hit 60-80% of their goals after initial launch of new projects. Why? Because they encourage project managers to set goals that might be just out of reach, to incite more growth. They would rather rate the success at 80% consistently, than 100% or 40%, as that would indicate goals that are either too small, or too big. If you take this approach with training you likely won't hit 100% of every goal you aim for either, but I'd highly recommend it for long-term growth. Just remind yourself as you go, Google isn't firing folks for hitting 60% now and then, so we shouldn't see our goals as complete zeros either if we don't fully achieve them.
Here I've broken the goal-setting cycle into some quick bullet points for easier reference:
Take downtime and dream / recover and reflect
Look forward, what excites you?
Look back, what makes the most sense next?
Make a detailed plan, keep the plan visible
Give yourself room to grow and fail
Quick Backcountry Hike
We love our local mountains, and the way they are managed. Having grown up riding the over developed, long lift-line resorts of New England, the resorts here in Idaho are a breath of fresh air. Don't get me wrong, we are still proudly born from ice, but we are in love with the mountain west.
One of the things we like the most about Idaho mountains is the freedom to explore them, from summer runs and hikes to going off-trail in the winter. Yesterday was our second time going in the back this winter at Bogus Basin and we had a blast. Mores Mountain is the peak next door to Shafer Butte and the summit can be accessed with an easy 1 mile hike from a shoulder on the backside of Bogus. The snow was crusting over on our way down. as the sun was also going down, but we still loved every minute of it. We'll be back for some more soon, and hopefully so will the snow-clouds.
2018 Fall Races - Ultra Season!
Collection of shots above from various races and adventures we went on over the fall in prep for our first 50 miler. Didn't get many good pictures to show from the actual 50, but we did get results that made us happy!
We've both been training with the Boise Billies since April of 2018, but did not start getting individualized training from coach, Matt Laye, until the build up for the 50, starting in August. Matt had us do some things we'd never done before, and we loved almost every hour of it, despite bonking a few times as we learned how to fuel on 4-5 hour runs. Without giving away all of the secrets; two of the big changes were back-to-back long runs and going by elevation as well as mileage/time on feet with our weekly goals. We can both truly say that, though the 50 mile race was indeed our longest run ever, we had 2 or 3 training runs that really felt harder. That's not to say we were banged up by the time we raced, because we actually felt rested and right at peak fitness on race day, with nothing to stop us from crushing it.
Speaking of crushing it, Sumner came away with the win and a course record as well as placing 5th overall in her first 50 miler! I hung on for 3rd overall after not eating a big enough breakfast (like a total rookie) and bonking hard only 18 miles in.