Most runners I know are obsessive, myself included. And the thing we obsess about most? Numbers, of course. After all, that’s how we quantify many of our goals, challenges and accomplishments.
- The number of miles we run per week.
- The number of races we participate in each year.
- The numbers we need to hit to qualify for Boston.
- The numbers on our Garmins or Fitbits.
- The numbers on our scale.
- The numbers on the treadmill.
- The numbers we want to add to our long runs.
- The numbers we want to chisel away during a race.
Numbers can be just the motivation we need to keep us fired up about reaching our ongoing and ever-changing running goals. If you’re like me, you love them, but maybe sometimes a bit too much.
I began thinking about all of this number business when I saw the “Run 2015 miles in 2015” challenge floating around Facebook. My first instinct was to say, “Hell yeah!” even though I knew this was a bad idea all the way around for me.
As much as I love the idea of a challenge like this, by focusing purely on numbers instead of being smart about recovery days and listening to my body, I know I’d be setting myself up for a litany of injuries.
So instead of zeroing in on mileage this year I have decided I want to focus on celebrating numbers in a different way. I want to say “Booyah!” to things like…
- The number of times I try new things—new trails, new groups, new races.
- The number of times I stay in the moment during a run, listening to my body, knowing I’m pushing myself at exactly the right pace and distance for where I’m at on that particular day.
- The number of big sweaty hugs I give.
- The number of times my heart explodes with admiration when I see 80+-year olds still running, always looking happy and always sporting a warm smile.
- The number of times I get a newbie excited about running or convince her that she soooooo can run that first race.
- The number of times utter waves of joy wash over me as I coach my kids running teams, seeing that little spark ignite in them.
- The number of times I laugh so hard I cry with friends who share their lives with me on a run, knowing that what’s shared on the road always stays on the road.
- The number of times a challenging day becomes an “Abso-freaking-lutely YES” kind of day after a run.
- The number of times I’m filled with gratitude because I can run.
- The number of times I push myself outside my comfort zone.
- The number of times I return home from a run feeling happy, exhausted and invincible.
- The number of times I say, “Good morning!” to another runner on the road and mean it heart and soul/sole (after all it is a ‘good morning’ when we get to run).
- The number of times I make a smart food choice because I know it will make me a better runner and a healthier person.
- The number of times I work on strength, core, and cross-training in order to support my running goals, and more importantly, my running longevity. After all, I want to be one of those 80+-year old runners who inspires all those young farts!
Numbers will always be a great motivator for me, but by stepping back and not letting myself get caught up in somebody else’s mileage challenge, I’m making numbers work for me instead of against me so I can reach my personal goals without sliding in at the end of the year in a body cast.
I know I will always be tempted to aim for higher numbers, but there’s one number I know will always remain a big fat ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH: the number of times I ever regret being a runner.
Happy trails everybody…here’s to many more fun miles ahead filled with laughter and inspiration!
PS: How do you approach numbers with your running? Love them or loathe them? Or simply ignore them? Do share. I’d love to hear from !