‘Fessing Up Is Good For the Sole

Once again, it’s time to confess our running sins. Gather around while I divulge three of my latest transgressions and unburden my soul. Thank you to Marciaโ€™s Healthy Slice for providing this monthly Runfessional.

Runfession #1 – Yeowch!

I wrote in an earlier post about an exceptionally tough trail race Hubs and I did in March. What I didn’t write about in my race report was the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) we both suffered afterward.

Even though this race was less than seven miles long – it was advertised as a 10k, but was actually closer to 11k – I had a full-blown case of DOMS. I felt like I had run a hilly marathon.

It hurt to bend over to pick something up from the floor. It hurt to walk down the steps (I had to turn sideways to descend). Most of all, it hurt to lower myself to sit down on the toilet (TMI?).

I hobbled around for three or four days after the race. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt to run. I did a short recovery road run the day after the race and felt great. By Tuesday, I was back on the trails.

Runfession #2 – Heart Rate 246?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I had not been running with my trail buddies in almost a month. Snow and ice made the trails difficult to navigate for much of February and early March.

By mid-March, my friend Al and I decided to do some road-running together. We set out from our local rec center one cold morning to run for an hour or so.

Al is a big believer in heart rate running. His goal that morning was to keep his heart rate in a certain (low) range for the majority of our run. I sometimes check my heart rate during a run, mostly to reassure myself that even if the run may feel hard, my heart rate is low. Usually, I don’t look at my watch at all.

For my age, the estimated heart rate range for moderate to vigorous exercise is 110 – 140 beats per minute. Al’s is approximately the same.

At one point in the run, Al told me he wanted to slow down. His heart rate was 145 bpm. He asked me what mine was. I glanced at my watch and told him my heart rate was 143 bpm. This reading confused me since I felt like we were running at a very easy pace. I certainly didn’t feel as though I was at or above the very top of my range.

We slowed down.

About a mile later Al checked his watch and informed me his heart rate was down to 125. I looked down at my watch and read my heart rate as an incredible 246!

That’s Impossible!” I said. “My heart would be beating right out of my chest.” I showed Al my watch.

Laurie,” Al replied, “you are reading the mileage. Your heart rate is 113.

Oh. Whew!

Runfession #3 – Goals Are Evil

At the beginning of this year, I set a goal of running 1500 miles in 2021.

Now I don’t want to.

If you break it down, 1500 miles is 30 miles/week, more or less. There will probably be a few weeks when I don’t run 30 miles due to illness, injury, or (hopefully) travel.

I now feel obligated to get 30 miles in each week. Sigh.

Do I have your permission to stop?

Checking my running log each week, factoring in the times when I will be running with others (so, not in charge of determining the mileage), accounting for races, and calculating how I can reach 30 has left me stressed and anxious.

As I write this post, I have run 318 miles in 10 weeks. 31.8 miles per week, not much of a cushion.

I think I may jettison the whole goal-mileage-for-the-year thing. If I do, however, I have no objectives for the year. No upcoming races that scare me, no long runs to accomplish, no big plans to work toward.

As you can probably tell, I am deeply ambivalent.

What to do, what to do?

I may have to reconsider.

Thank you for sharing my Runfessions. I am cleaner, lighter, and grateful for the chance to confess my running sins. See you again in April for my next Runfession.

You can find the places I link up here.

132 comments

  1. Well, you certainly have my permission to ease up on the goal. I know its exercise and it’s healthy, but you should also enjoy it. I find that when we force ourselves to do something for an arbitrary reason, we tend to resent going it. That shouldn’t happen with running for you.

    I love the story about your heart rate. That made bd laugh.

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  2. Oh, a tricky decision.
    I’d say don’t jettison your mileage goal for 2021. You are still on track!

    Don’t give up on something that is still going well. Think about the feeling when you have accomplished something that was difficult. That glorious feeling in December 2021, when you can tick off the box.
    You’re going to run anyway, why not reach for a yearly goal? You can do this, Laurie!

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  3. LOL – I totally laughed at the heart rate. Sounds like something I would do… & actually, my heart rate probablly WOULD beat that fast HAHA

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  4. You not only have my permission to jettison your goal, you have my sincere encouragement to do so. What if you plan to run as much as you can and see how far you get this year? Take the pressure off and enjoy running. You understand, this comes from a committed armchair runner.

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  5. Your mileage, not your heart rate . . . Oh, Laurie, I certainly got a chuckle out of that one, especially since it sounded like a mistake I would make. And yes, you have my permission to NOT doing 1500 miles this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. I think hard & fast mileage and speed goals are a goof way to get injured. Everytime I set a goal like that, my calves wind up knotting up and derailing me for a week (or more). My ventilatory HR is around 135. A couple of weeks ago, my starting heart rate read 145 and crept up continually until it peaked and stayed at 180. This went on for over 4 miles. I was able to talk and sing comfortably while running. I don’t think I was looking at the time. Never figured it out.

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    • You are right about the mileage goal, of course. I don’t think I have ever seen a heart rate above 160. If I ever hit 180, I think I would keel over! I sometimes do the singing test too. If I can sing, I’m OK.

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  7. I love your runfessions, Laurie. You make me smile and laugh at times too. But Iโ€™m always so impressed and also very appreciative of your writing and gifts. Abandon that goal if you want. Just from an outsider perspective I think you should stick to keeping your heart rate below 200 on an easy run (lol). I was sorry to hear the difficulties after the 11 mile marathon! Yikes! I sat a goal to run 20 miles a week when I was a runner and then suffered another neck injury that sidelined me. I beat myself up about it. But now, literally, my goal setting is simpler and done, wait for it……EVERY Sunday night or Monday morning. After suffering from my TBI I struggled with memory (still do and depth perception and processing is worse if Iโ€™m battled with my body). My goals are pretty basic (stretch each morning, pray more, financial for the week, needs vs wants, etc…I even change some to monthly goals and keep a calendar. Itโ€™s not what I used to do or be but at least Iโ€™m keeping my goal of moving! I do a 15 minute HIIT 4 mornings a week but do my Pilates moves and stretching every morning. Iโ€™ve finally found my balance for this stage of this year so far. I imagine it will. and can, change but I feel healthy in and out. You are an inspiration to me!!! Bravo to you! โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š

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  8. You totally and completely have my permission to run as many miles as you want to in 2021! The first year that I ran more than 1,000 miles at first I was like “yay” but then I realized that my goal couldn’t be “more miles” every year. So I replaced it with “as many miles as I want to run”.

    Heart rate training stresses me out! Though I suspect that’s going to be on the table when I start working with a coach.

    And finally, anyone who can’t relate to “too sore to sit on the toilet” needs to up their fitness game!

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    • โ€œAs many miles as I want to runโ€ sounds like a good goal to me. I think more and more people use heart rate training. I like it for the most part. It is usually reassuring. Except for the time when it wasn’t! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. Gee, sounds like I missed ALL the fun with that DOMS-inducing trail race ๐Ÿ™‚ — But I hear ya about goals. I have been setting such high monthly writing goals for myself that even though I’ve met them, they were sucking the joy out of writing and weighing me down with pressure instead of firing my creativity. I too am ambivalent: I need some kind of road map so I don’t just wander around and waste energy, but I think I also need to trust myself that I won’t just be a slug if I stop driving myself so hard.

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    • The problems with your writing goals do sound like the ones with my running goal. They take something that is supposed to be fun and turn it into a chore. I blame it on the focus several years ago on “Outcomes Based Education”. Is that still a thing?

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  10. I remember writing a comment, but it’s not here. ??? When I came back to your post, I saw the pun in the title. I have to confess I didn’t notice it before. Good one!

    I would certainly give you permission to drop your pressurized running goal. I’d encourage it. Can you turn it around to make it more fun? What if you pledge to run as much as you can and see how well you do at the end of the period?

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  11. Glad the DOMs didn’t last long.

    I’m having issues with my HR right now. I don’t know if it’s surgery/heart related, or if I’m just pushing harder than I think I am. I hate to run slower than I can walk, but might have to start doing that in order to keep it reasonable.

    You have my permission to stop running 30 miles/week. That’s a big commitment and if it is stressing you out, that’s not good. Maybe change the goal to 30K/week. Then you have a more doable objective.

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  12. Glad those DOMS did not last. I donโ€™t get them from running but I have from hiking. Those hills!!

    I set a goal of 1000 which means 84 each month. I only run 19 miles a week. So obviously it may not happen esp. if I donโ€™t continue running weekend 10 milers. So a goal is just a motivator for me.

    I donโ€™t run by heart rate but I have friends that do.

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  13. Maybe instead of the one goal you set it like you did the laps on that race? A no-brainer (say, 1000 miles), a “realistic” one (maybe 1300?), and a “if everything goes absolutely perfectly” goal (15-1600)?

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  14. You have my permission to stop or alter your goal. I set myself the target this year of walking 1500 miles and have fallen massively behind over the last month. As an aside, I giggled at the heart rate.

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  15. Aren’t the DOMS tricky little brats? Although I often anticipate them (depending on my workouts), there are times when they just show up after perceived “easy” workouts and I’m blind-sided. They keep us humble. I always say “DOMS: earned, never given.”

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  16. OMG hilarious about that 246 “heart rate”! That would be something! I’m not a fan of goals that stress me out. That’s why my mileage goal includes walking. Haha! Thanks for linking.

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  17. I was literally LOL at your HR “incident”. Seriously, that’s funny! I have had rogue high readings, but definitely never anything that high.

    I like goals. I think it’s good to have something to motivate you. I have never set a yearly mileage goal. I’d rather listen to my body, which has had me in very low mileage for a long time. Remember the 5 whys? Ask yourself why you’re doing it. Then ask 4 more times. Maybe you’ll get to the answer of whether or not it really matters to you still. And maybe you won’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  18. LOL on misreading your Garmin! Last year I set an annual milage goal 3/4 through the year. This year I set one in advance, and even though itโ€™s a modest one, itโ€™s still more of a weight on my shoulders than a motivating goal. If the goal is serving you in a positive way, let it go! If itโ€™s making you skip rest days or prioritize running more than it deserves, let it go.

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    • Last year, I ran just under 1500 miles. I thought it would be an easy goal to meet, and it probably would. I just don’t like the pressure of thinking about it every time I go out for a run.

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  19. I admire you for running. That’s kind of funny about reading the mileage and not HR. Maybe instead of stopping you just reassess and adjust your distance of running. If you don’t think the 30 miles is possible. Of course I don’t run so I have no idea, maybe I should just say suck it up buttercup you know you can do it…lol. Anyways…enjoyed reading your “runfessions”. Visiting from Weekend Coffee Share.

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  20. That is hilarious on the HR vs mileage. I tried HR training a few years back and it wasn’t for me! I just want to run the pace I want to run. I am sometimes sore after running a different route or terrain too.

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  21. Hi Laurie – I’m all about joy these days – and any goal that has stress or a degree of guilt or misery involved with it gets tossed to the kerb. The fact that you run and you enjoy it so much should be more than enough – you’re fitter and healthier than the majority of midlifers – so run for the pleasure and the healthiness of it and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit the magic 30.

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  22. That’s why I don’t set yearly running goals! I average about 30 miles a week too, and I’ve run 1500 in a year before. Not last year in spite of the pandemic (actually getting covid put the kibosh on that). But I would also be stressing if I had to make sure that I was running 30 miles a week. What about cut-back weeks? What about race recovery (if I ever do one of those again)? Too many ‘what abouts.’

    Your story of your DOMS reminded me of my marathon PR race at St. George eons ago. It’s a mostly downhill race and EVERYBODY was hurting the next day, even the gal who stayed at our hotel and qualified for the Olympic trials. We were on the same plane home too and watching her struggle to get up the stairs to the plane made me feel, I don’t know, better, I guess.

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    • I typically average 30 miles a week too. Last year, I was just under 1500 miles, so I thought it would be a good goal to set for this year.

      I did St. George too. I think it was 2010. I guess your story shows that everyone hurts after a hard downhill marathon! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  23. I’m glad your heartrate wasn’t 246! That would be quite something. For your goal… interesting how people have differing opinions on it. But I promise you will not be ostracized from the community if you change your mind on that one!

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  24. Your runfession about year mileage is exactly why I never set one – I don’t like the pressure of feeling obligated to hit a certain amount. I actually set one this year as a part of the Zooma Run Club, and know that I’m already behind. I say don’t jettison the goal, but don’t feel beholden to it either – it’s still early in the year.

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  25. I had some DOMS from lifting this week and I was thinking about how I kind of miss that feeling of not being able to sit or do stairs after a marathon. Its been so long since I experienced that!

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  26. I’m glad you do not have a 246 heart rate lol! I think if I actively monitored my HR during a run I’d have to slow to a walk! It does seem to be a great form of training, though!

    I feel like your gut is telling you to ease away from the mileage goal! Lately if I’m at like 80% of my goal that’s good enough for me!

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  27. Hmm – when I fell in the snowbank and couldn’t get up right away, I strained a ton of muscles and felt like you and yes, TMI or not, I had to also slowly lower myself onto the toilet. I aim for eight glasses of water a day and took a pass on that water-drinking regimen for a few days. ๐Ÿ™‚ That is funny about misreading your rate … thank goodness you are not one to check your heart rate when running on your own … at least Al was there to verify your heart was still in its proper place. Yes, you have MY permission to table that goal … you had an uncharacteristically large snowfall in your state that set back your running for a bit, we may be in 2021, but this year has had its quirks and idiosyncrasies, not to mention setback. You may recoup your miles in the Summer, but give yourself a break this year. One year, I had set my yearly goal and I had two or three weeks left in the year and still had miles to walk. I was frantic not to disappoint myself and walked laps in Memorial Park which is a large grassy park a couple of blocks from my house. It’s not geared for walking with no walking path, but it stages events, so there was a parking lot. I traipsed around the parking lot and in the snowy grass … I got it done, but swore that going forward, I’d step it up during the year and end up with an overage and not go through this again, which took the joy out of my whole goal.

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    • Ha! So sorry to read you had trouble sitting down too. It happens to me after almost every marathon. I didn’t expect it after a 10k! Thank you for your permission, Linda. I just don’t think I need the pressure. You do so well with your walking goal for each year. I like to have overage too. Cutting it close causes stress. You are right, it takes the joy out of the activity.

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      • Gripping onto the vanity to get up … I bought a yoga DVD, not opened it yet. I should have had it in the Winter when I had to leave later in the morning due to later sunrise. Now, I try to get out to walk once it’s light. I walked six miles today … it was a glorious day. Yes, it does take the fun out of any activity. I was fine when I just added one mile to my previous year’s total, then I was challenged to do the 2,020 kilometers for the year 2020 and I took that challenge. Luckily the tail end of the year was mild and no snow until Christmas Eve. Now I return to adding one mile only and celebrate any overages, but don’t surpass them.

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      • Yes, I did enjoy doing yoga in the winter, when running was sometimes dicy. I now have a very brief (maybe 7 minutes) YouTube video I often do when I return home from a run. That’s just the amount of time I like to spend on yoga. Good for you for putting the miles in! You walk a LOT of miles during the year.

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      • I must get to the DVD or YouTube until I do the DVD. I need to get some limbering up before yard work as well. That’s a good month away. I had no excuse today as I did not go out. The rain that was to end in the 8:00 o’clock hour lasted until noon, then the 30 mph winds did not entice me to go out. I spent hours putting together three posts for this week, the Part I and II of the Wildlife Refuge. I wanted to include some stats and history in the posts, so finally, it is done. And a Wordless Wednesday as well – a heron from the marsh. Back to walking, I hope, tomorrow, but weather will be a downgrade again mid-week. Must be the March lion exiting. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • At least you were productive, even if you did not go outside. Doesn’t it feel good to get posts stockpiled ahead of time? I almost never do that. I am often scrambling to get something done on my schedule. Bill tells me it’s not a job. No consequences if I miss a post and he’s right. We took a walk this afternoon along a stream and spooked a heron and 3 pairs of wood ducks. the wood ducks are so pretty! The males have such brightly colored plumage this time of year.

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      • Yes it is good to be done Laurie – that was a lot of photos and I tried not be so lengthy in the narrative nor too picture laden. I am striving to make my posts a little shorter down the road. I have never seen a wood duck and you were lucky enough to see three pair of them – they are such beautiful ducks. And a heron too. Sounds like Harry who is fitful if he sees me. The heron I have in my Wordless Wednesday post was beyond patient while I took his pictures at Humbug Marsh.

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      • Bill and I were trying not to disturb the heron. He was sitting in a tree, on a branch out over the stream. One or 2 cars went by and didn’t spook him, but when we got too close, he flew down the stream. We didn’t see him again on the way back.

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      • That’s what happens with the heron at the Park. I did see him this morning but he stayed put – must’ve seen a fish and ignored my presence. Speaking of birds in trees, I was walking home from the Park this morning and saw something large in a tree. Since the trees are still bare here, I hurried over and I spooked two female wood ducks, who flew off when I got close. First time ever for seeing wood ducks – not shots of them, as they took off too quickly.

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      • So cool that you and I were just talking about wood ducks and now you saw some. I hope you get to see a male in breeding plumage. That would be a better photo anyway. They are fast, though.

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      • Yes, I am hoping to see the male (no offense ladies). I saw nothing at the Park this morning, and not in that neighborhood, so I’ll bet they were passing by. We usually just have Mallards and American Black Ducks – no other types of ducks that I’ve seen there, except the domestic ducks that I wrote about in my post. Jocelyn Anderson posted some beautiful Wood Duck shots on her Twitter account yesterday.

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      • It was too cold and windy to go look for wood ducks today here, but I bet those 3 pairs we saw are going to nest in the area. They nest in holes in hollow trees. I think there may be some wood nest boxes in the area where we saw them. It’s cold tomorrow too, but maybe over the weekend, we will go look for them again.

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      • That’s interesting that they nest in holes in hollow trees – I will take a walk down that street and see if the tree looks dead … they were in the branches up high, but may have been spooked. I got caught in a snow squall on my walk this morning. We’d had snow in the northern ‘burbs and several accidents. I wore my hiking boots … just in case. Left with a blue sky and puffy clouds, halfway to the Park, a dark cloud, then snow showers, swirling snow at my feet and on the street, then graupel. I kept going to the Park as I knew once the cloud passed I’d be fine … 20 minutes later, you’d never know those weather conditions happened.

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      • Once when we were visiting New Orleans, I went for a run in Audubon Park early in the morning and saw a mama wood duck leaving the hole in her tree with all of her babies. The babies couldn’t get back in, so once they were out, they were out for good. That’s the way it works with wood ducks. They don’t usually sit in the branches – just their nest hole. Ugh…sorry for the snow showers. Come ON, Spring!

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      • How lucky you were to see that sight. That’s amazing they nest above ground, but there is a Mallard that nests in a planter’s box at Dingell Park every year. That duck is smart as it knows fisherman come down there and know it’s there and slip it something to eat. There is a restaurant nearby and people bring her food. A fellow walker told me about her as he often went down there to talk to the fisherman and saw her. I went and got photos and did a post on her. At a glance, you didn’t see her underneath some plants.

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  28. I chuckled when I read the confusion with the heart rate. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, you have my permission to stop. Do what you want and can. You will be proud whether you run 10, 40, 500, or 1,000 miles this year.

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  29. If you didnโ€™t have DOMS after that challenging trail race I would think you werenโ€™t human.
    Seems like you ar E on track for your mileage goal. I, on the other hand have a similar goal and am way behind. Ugh!

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  30. oh my I know how you feel about the mileage thing! with the Illinois Criss-Cross challenge I thought for sure I would manage it. But… when I calculated this week that I had to walk or run 12.5KM PER DAY for 40 days to finish on time I felt completely overwhelmed! with your own goal though, I think YES, definitely redefine it if you want to. This is why I don’t set goals. As soon as I do I either don’t want that “thing” anymore or something happens to me.

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    • Yes, I read about that challenge in your post. That would be stressful. Goals are supposed to motivate you, but when they make you anxious, they are not worth it. Time to rethink.

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  31. Goals are great, they drive us to do our best. But they’re not very smart and will never recognize local or new situations. A clever person must still adjust as needed and do so with the authority of owning the goal — not the other way around. You already know what a better goal might be and you don’t need anyone’s permission to switch to it. But do press on Laurie. You know what’s good for you. Run to that.
    Blessings.

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    • Thank you, Gary. I was sort of kidding about asking for permission, but you are right – we should be in charge of our goals. Not the other way around. Thank you!

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    • You are right – with no goal races, it is harder to keep my mileage up. I would like to be able to do a half marathon if I want to, so maybe I should be within striking distance of that!

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  32. Definitely drop your goal if it isn’t suiting you! Some of my most miserable experiences are when I forced myself to do things to meet some arbitrary self-imposed goal. Challenging yourself is great. Making yourself stressed and unhappy for no reason isn’t!

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  33. I literally laughed out loud about you reading the mileage instead of the heart rate– mostly because that sounds like something I would do! I am feeling the exact same way about the goal I set for my reading.. I wanted to read 120 books so that’s 10 a month and I’m already a few behind. It’s making me stress out and I’m not enjoying my reading nearly as much because I’m always concerned I’m not reading fast enough!

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    • Ha! I am glad I am not alone in making a mistake like that! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your reading goal is a lot like my running goal. Let me know what you decide to do.

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  34. Oh my goodness! Not to use your HR story as an excuse, but Loving Husband has been hounding me for years to get a Garmin, maybe I will just tell him I can’t see the right numbers anyway (real concern, incidentally).

    I am of two minds about setting goals. I have experienced the power and draw of having goals exciting enough to get you out on sleepy days. But I have also felt the overwhelming pressure which begin to make the runs a chore. Can I just cheer you on, whatever you decide to do?

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  35. You are shrieved! Shriven, oh heck, I don’t know what the past plu perfect of “Shrieve” is, nor do I remember what a plu perfect is. As a non-runner, I would question whether or not that high of a goal might not rob you of some of the joy of running that you feel? Go in peace “my child!” Best and blessings, Michele

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    • Ha! I would have to look up past pluperfect too. My mom, the former English teacher, would be so disappointed in me! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for the shrievence. Shrieving. Hmm…??? Thank you for your blessing, Michele.

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  36. Your runfessions had me smiling Laurie. My advice, for what it’s worth and as a past runner who can’t run at the moment and may never run again due to something dodgy in my knee area, is to do what feels right for you. If it’s too much pressure having a goal of 1500miles then give it up – you do what feels right, maybe even set another gaol that’s not as much. Enjoyed your post for #weekendcoffeeshare

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  37. Your misreading of your watch made me laugh. It is exactly the sort of thing I would do. Have you thought of changing the length of the time period for your challenge, instead of dropping the target miles? Add a month or so, so you don’t lose the motivation. Just because there are 12 months in a year, doesn’t mean everything has to take 12 months. #mmbc

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