Boston Goals: Have Fun, No Pressure

As I alluded to on Monday, my mental mojo this training cycle went into hiding.  I feel great physically…so now I have (less than) 2 weeks to find my mojo and whip it into shape.

I can’t be surprised by the mental burnout.  Let me explain…

I took a year off marathoning in 2009 to get married, buy a house, and go on a long honeymoon. I ran a few HMs but mainly ran for fun and enjoyment. I had 5 marathons under my belt but my training for them wouldn’t be what I considered “intense”.

Fast forward to January 2010 – I register for marathons #6 and 7, ramp up my training intensity and mileage, and try to slowly chip away at my PR in an effort to get closer to qualifying for Boston.

September 11, 2011…I finally BQ after 2 years of hard work. Marathons 6 through 9 were essentially back-to-back…Spring, Fall, Spring, Fall. One training cycle after another. And in between cycles, trying not to lose the speed that I had built up.


While training for Boston, I begin to grow weary of the intensity.  I just want to run!  Not worry about pace!  Two plus years of training for a PR and pressuring myself to PR has left me fried mentally.    

Of course I want to PR in Boston.  But I also want to have fun and put no pressure on myself whatsoever.  

So what does all this rambling mean? Besides I’m a complete headcase and desperately need a break from racing post-Boston?

My Boston goal:

Enjoy the race while running as fast as you can that day :)

Pretty different from my “sub-3:40 or bust” goal a few months ago, huh? “That day” being the key words. Sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you can turn a race that is headed south into a good race and sometimes you can’t.

But whatever I feel on April 16 – good or bad – doesn’t matter. I will have fun no matter what and I’m hoping that by removing the pressure to PR, I may actually PR. Reverse running psychology, right?

Tell me your best I-can’t-believe-I-PR’d stories!  It can be any distance.  I tend to PR unexpectedly in 10-milers.  That’s a good thing, considering I’m running one 3 weeks after Boston (yes, 1 more race!). 

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  1. bethp262 says

    Like Kara, I was shocked by my 50 mile time although being my first, I obviously would PR. I did not have a pace/time goal, but just wanted to stay steady and comfortable as much as possible.
    I tend to do best when I am not focusing on a time/pace goal but more of an effort. I BQ’d by deciding I would run that marathon “comfortably hard/just on the edge of effort”.
    I think your attitude about Boston is good–run your best that day, but make it enjoyable and fun. Really take in the race for all that it is–enjoy the towns you run through, high five some little kids, etc. !
    I’m so excited for you!!!

  2. says

    I ran my marathon PR at the Grandma’s marathon last year. I decided that morning that I wasn’t going to worry about my pace, and just run comfortably. Wouldn’t you know that I knocked off 8 minutes from my previous PR that I had just set in Fargo 1 month before.

    Little did I know (until I had 2 miles left) that I was SUPER close to a BQ…and missed it by 2 minutes. Dang it.

    But it was still an amazing race.

  3. says

    MOST of my PRs come when I’m not trying for them – eg: Cow Harbor 10K, 3 min PR or something like that, not even thinking about it before the race (more thinking about enjoying it and such).

    I read something recently that you have to care about a result, but, in the end, have to learn how to “let go” about caring too much. I find when I try to force things to happen, whatever I’m trying to happen is much more difficult than when I sort of let go and let what will happen happen. I’m sure this makes zero sense.
    Meggie recently posted…This Post Is Not An April Fools’ JokeMy Profile

  4. says

    I think you’ve got the right strategy for Boston. My most unexpected PR was my half PR. It was tune-up race but I ended up with a 2 minute PR. At no point did I feel like I was trying that hard–just one of those magical days when everything clicks.

    After all those back-to-back marathons, you definitely owe yourself a nice break for some unstructured running time. Hope you get a chance, at least after the Broad Street 10.
    David recently posted…Taper Time ChangesMy Profile

  5. says

    I was JUST talking about this with a blogger friend of mine who tends to put a ton of pressure on herself on race day (and the weeks/months leading up to race day) but citing a time goal every single time she races. And while for SOME that may work wonders for motivation, I know for me I do my best and often surprise myself in a big way whenI don’t cite a time goal for a race. I may have a “secret” goal lurking in the back of my mind, but I rarely share that with anyone and I try not to think about it often. Once race day comes, I just want to enjoy the run, appreciate the distance this body can carry me and run a race I can be proud of. If the finish time happens to be somethingI was aiming for in the back of my mind, time-wise – awesome. And if not, that’s ok too – because I know I ran a race to be proud of regardless of time. Long way of saying, I LOVE your approach to Boston. Hopefully I’ll see you whizzing by — I’m watching it for the first time as a spectator which is sad considering I’ve lived in Boston my whole life!
    Jess recently posted…“Seeing” 26.2My Profile

  6. says

    You have worked so hard to get to Boston that I think it’s great that you are able to go in with the mindset to just enjoy it! I do find that the best performances come when you put the least amount of pressure on yourself, which in some ways is why I feel like I can perform at least as good in training as in a race. Training is a nice pressure free environment :)
    Celia recently posted…ocean drive marathon photos, recovery week and SprintyMy Profile

  7. says

    If I were you, I’d not only adhere to an “enjoy the day” goal just like the one you spelled out, but I’d wear a tiara or something. You earned being queen for the day!

    My last unexpected PR was also in a 10-mile race, mine in February 2011. It was in the middle of a training cycle and I was expecting nothing out of it–and boom! a 10-minute PR.
    Terzah recently posted…The Cleanse ReportMy Profile

  8. says

    I always say you never know what’s going to happen on any given day – we all have bad runs and good runs and runs where we are surprised for one reason or another. I think it’s a great goal!!!! You put in the work to get there, enjoy it :)

    I went into a marathon last fall and was really undertrained. I did not have high expectations and simply wanted to finish…but I ended up coming really close to PRing – that was a nice surprise!
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen recently posted…It’s just like riding a bikeMy Profile

  9. says

    You are in the right mindset about just enjoying Boston – you’ve got your Mojo, it’s just resting before the race too!!
    Unexpected PR? My HM last year. I was hoping for a PR, dreaming about a sub 2:00. Not only did I do both but I beat my PR by 10 minutes – what, what, what??? I kept cracking up the last 3 miles realizing I was really doing this and felt fabulous!!! Must have looked like a maniac!
    Kathy R recently posted…Michigan Vacation – Running Grim & Running HopefulMy Profile

  10. says

    I think that is a *great* goal and I am certain you are going to do so much better than you’re allowing yourself to think. ;) I have to admit that since I’ve gotten more competitive and started caring about my times, races have gotten a lot more exciting… but they have possibly gotten less fun? ONLY because of the pressure… but I do kind of thrive on the pressure. I think you know what I’m saying!
    Katie recently posted…I’m Falling ApartMy Profile

  11. says

    I feel very similarly, I hope my mojo returns STAT! I haven’t been racing back to back marathons, but I have been racing and training almost non-stop for a longgg time. My goal for this year’s race is to enjoy the race (as much as I can when running 26+ miles, heh) and not bonk like I did in 2009. Can’t wait to see you in Beantown!
    Megan (The Runner’s Kitchen) recently posted…No Sleep in BrooklynMy Profile

  12. says

    So funny–I have hit your blog twice today through other blogs! Sounds like we have very similar BQ stories! Love your pace and we’ll be in the same wave and corral! I’m finding that prepping for Boston has mentally taxed me so my only goal is to ENJOY. This is the icing on the cake of marathons! I did all the hard work.
    Michelle recently posted…RELENTLESSMy Profile

  13. says

    Can’t say I have any amazing and inspirational PR stories, though I did PR in Philadelphia in November by a few minutes more than I thought was possible (you and Kara told me I could do it!)

    I don’t blame you for feeling fried, you’ve been working your butt off! Any idea if Boston will be streamed online? I will totally watch if I can!

    PS, I see you signed up for the ODDyssey half! That was fun last year…costume-watching, on-course entertainment, and post-race beer!
    Amanda recently posted…March RecapMy Profile

  14. says

    As someone who usually puts a lot of pressure on myself, I really loved this post. I am training for Boston as well and the last month has been tricky with very strange injuries. I want to adopt your goal of just going out and enjoying Boston with no extreme expectations. To have fun doing my best for the day. I PR’d my 4th marathon 5 days after my rib rolled out for the first time. With the amount of pain and muscle spasm I had the few days before I wasn’t even sure I would be able to run let alone PR.

  15. says

    I had the exact same experience as Kara at Baltimore – so far my best races have come from when I take the pressure off myself. Telling myself I have to run at a certain pace or meet a certain time just backfires. Plus, you’ve been waiting so long for this experience, so you need to enjoy it!
    Alyssa recently posted…If I didn’t have to work for the man…My Profile



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