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Transcend your running limits

This is an excerpt from Breakthrough Women's Running by Neely S. Spence Gracey & Cindy Kuzma.

Working as a running coach has given me a front-row seat into athletes’ biggest dreams and desires. I get so excited about that first email, phone call, or meeting when a runner lays it all on the line.

Some want to qualify for the Boston Marathon or Olympic Marathon Trials. Others seek a personal best time, or to conquer a new distance, or to reintegrate running into their lives as mothers. In short, they’re looking to make a breakthrough of their own, and they’re asking for my help. What an honor!

I know that to open up about your audacious goals takes guts. I’m beyond grateful when athletes share, and from the moment we agree to work together, I feel invested in bringing their visions to life.

We all need big goals to fuel our efforts. Most of us are capable of far more than we think, provided we give ourselves the time and tools we need to succeed (much more on all that in chapter 2, page 13).

So if you’re a runner with a goal that lights you up, gets you out of bed in the morning, and makes you equal parts scared and excited, you’re in the right place. I get it; I’m thrilled for you, and I’m willing to work with you to make it happen.

Don’t stress, though, if you’re still figuring it all out. I also work with plenty of runners who know they want more out of themselves but aren’t quite sure where to focus. If you don’t yet have a concrete goal, here are some things you might think about to spark ideas:

  • Consider how close you are to meeting a specific qualifying time. Some common goals include the Boston Marathon; Olympic Marathon Trials; or automatic entry into other major marathons, such as Berlin, Chicago, or New York City.
  • Recall the race distances you’ve competed at before. Is there one at which you think you can get faster or a new distance you haven’t tried but would like to? (Note: This doesn’t always have to be a longer race. I know plenty of marathoners who get thrills from training for a fast mile or 5K.)
  • Talk to other runners you know. If you have regular training partners, they might have goals that resonate with you too. Or if you know runners a little ahead of you in pace or experience level, ask about an accomplishment that was particularly meaningful for them.
  • If you’re scrolling on social media and you feel a pang of jealousy at seeing someone else’s medal pic or finish-line victory pose, take notice. That likely means you’re drawn toward a similar goal. (Note: This is probably the only time I’d suggest comparing yourself to others on social media.)
  • Ponder longer-term ambitions, such as earning your Six Star Finisher Medal by running all the World Marathon Majors, running a half or full marathon in every state, or maintaining a streak at a specific event.
More Excerpts From Breakthrough Women's Running