Goal Times

I’m going on my… Second year of running? No, wait, third. Wow. Has it been that long? Feels like just a few months. Anyway.

So the thing is, as someone who had never run a day in my life, I basically took it as goal accomplished if I was able to finish a race before the course shut down. That was my “time goal,” if you will. When I first started, I was blissfully ignorant of time goals. At my first half marathon, which was a little over 5 months after I first wheezed my way through less than a mile of run/walking, it never occurred to me that there was a reason no bagels were left by the time I finished or that the water at the water stops was gone when I rolled through. When talking about the race afterward, I had no idea what my friend meant when she said she had a bad race because her time “was over 2 hours.”

I was the jubilant idiot laying sprawled out on the grass by the finish line who was ready to puke, crap my pants, and pass out at the end. I was just overjoyed that the course hadn’t closed down while I was still on it.

So when did I become so enamored (obsessive?) with the idea of time goals, and especially with a half marathon in under 2 hours? My singular and growing obsession with the half marathon is made all the more peculiar in that I don’t care much about my 5k or 10k times, in the marathon,  I mean, fuck it, who cares as long as I don’t die in the process.

I think the time fetish is linked to weight loss, or lack thereof. I plateaued and I haven’t been able to lose a pound in over a year. Where once I measured progress in weight lost, now I do it with time. I have a compulsive need to have a goal in mind, something I’m working towards to give my life structure. Lately, though, I’ve come to realize that even if I didn’t see any time improvement or weight loss, running has become a hobby that has actually really, genuinely helped improve my overall mental health. Since I started, my bouts of depression aren’t quite as severe or as prolonged as they once were. So with all that in mind, I’m hoping that my fixation with time doesn’t completely ruin running for me, because I can totally see that happening.

Out of curiosity: does anyone else have time goals when they run? when did you all start having them? do you focus on one distance over others?


12 thoughts on “Goal Times

  1. So the funny thing is, I was having a similar but I guess sort of opposite conversation with my dad the other night after my race…I sort of don’t really care about time. Even though I’ve been running for almost 3 years also and I’ve done about a dozen half marathons I’m still like, “holy crap I ran 13 miles!”

    I think part of the reason I have a hard time doing speed work and working towards a time goal is because I’m still just impressed with the fact that I run at all, much less I run 13 or 26 miles! I need to sort of change my attitude and get over that fact and think, “ok, that’s great, now let’s try to work on doing it faster!”

    I really hope worrying about time doesn’t ruin running for you, like you said there are so many other amazing benefits of running no matter how fast or slow you’re doing it! Maybe you and I can meet in the middle and find a happy medium : )

    • I have a compulsion of “it’s not good enough! IT’S NEVER GOOD ENOUGH!” regarding just about everything, which can oftentimes be incredibly dangerous and self defeating. If I had to pick, I’d rather come to your side of the spectrum–13 miles is so much and holy shit 26+ miles is like… damn! Even at the end of Dopey, all I could think was, “my marathon time… oh it’s so bad…” I really gotta stop.

  2. I’m totally obsessed with time…mostly because I’m slow. Don’t get me wrong, I just started running 3 years ago and my first half marathon all I wanted to do was live! (I pretty much have the same goal for a marathon). But now, I can’t help but hear people’s times and be envious and want that. I also know that no matter how much hard work and effort and speed work I do, I will never be “that fast.” As much as I can dream about it, realistically, I will never be a sub 2-hour. I’ll never consider myself a runner no matter how many races I complete.

    Here’s what it boils down to, even though I may have become jaded about my times and how my runs go, the amount of people who are still like “wow! You ran a half marathon?!?! I could never do that!” far and away out number the people who’s reaction was “you ran a half marathon? what was your time?” And so that’s hopefully what you (and I) can remember, no matter what the time, finishing these distances is always an amazing accomplishment! Maybe we need to help each other remember that 🙂

    • Kellie, that last paragraph was the most positive I’ve ever heard you be about running and times…YAY! BIG HUG FOR YOU! Keep thinking like that! (Oh, and never say never! Plus, I’m sure I can’t do half the crap you do in CrossFit!)

      • lol See?!?! I can totally be positive! It’s just usually for someone else…but Yay! I’ll take big hugs 🙂 (and I’m pretty sure you can do more CrossFit things than you give yourself credit for)

    • I can still remember when I came back to work after my first marathon and my co-worker said, “Really? It took you that long to do a marathon?” and I felt like such shit and then I was like, “wait a minute, you people don’t even run, let alone do a marathon… why the fuck am I listening to you?”

      This is a well needed reminder– even on my worst running day now, I’m still a LOT happier than I was doing the mile in high school. WE WILL REMIND EACH OTHER OF THIS!

      • I would punch that co-worker in the face. My boss who actually runs half marathons asked me what my time was and her response was “oh no, you have to do faster than that!” Wtf?!?! I now hide my half marathons from her.

        YES! Remind each other! Definitely!

  3. I very much identify with this post, and your last one. I’ve been struggling to stay between 10 and 11 minutes a mile on even the shortest, flattest of my runs since I started back up a month or so ago.

    I’m pretty sure my PRs were flukes.

    When I started running, I immediately had a goal race in mind (the WDW Marathon) because I was still coming off of the whole disordered eating thing and I needed that goal to work toward … it took the place of my obsessive calorie-counting.

    Once I ran the marathon (which was my first race) and FINISHED, I knew I could do another marathon or a race of any length. Once I ran both a marathon and half marathon and had these TIMES, those times became my focus. And it’s really discouraging to be SO FAR OFF from the splits on my PRs (which, again, must have been flukes).

    I mean, it’s good to have a time goal to keep myself motivated, but I’m so far off of the pace I want to be at that I’m becoming incredibly discouraged on my runs and skipping doing longer runs because, as I said to myself this morning, “what’s even the point?”

    So maybe I need a different goal other than a time goal. But “finish the race and don’t get hurt” doesn’t seem like something that requires training and dedication.

    For the record, I want to go sub-2 on a half marathon (current [fluke] PR is 2:03:57) and go sub-4:29:20 in a full (current [fluke] PR is 4:41:00). Because Oprah. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oprah_line

    • It’s funny that you say that, because I think I traded one obsession for another, specifically weight loss for a time goal. And all of this is a part of my constant quest to feel a sense of control over myself, which can be exceptionally unhealthy. So for the Brooklyn 1/2 we’re going to remember to have fun. And some fries from Nathan’s. and maybe some ices from Spumoni Gardens.

  4. I don’t usually set a time goal – I run for “fun” (the term is relative). However I’ve set a time goal for an upcoming half… mainly so that a friend and I can be in a good corral for the Disneyland half. Damn you, runDisney.

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