The Little Runner That Could

When my son was born, we signed up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that mails one free book per month to children from birth to five years old. The first book we received was my dad’s childhood favorite, The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, about a train who helped move toys and treats over a mountain she had never climbed before. The classic line “I think I can, I think I can…” has inspired self confidence in children since 1930.

Making any dream a reality necessitates an “I think I can” moment. My husband had a goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon last year even though we would be welcoming our first child, and he had just started a new and challenging job. On no sleep, he would complete workouts and long runs before and after a day of cramming new information in his brain for an important work related test. He believed his dream was possible all the way to that first marathon start line.

And then… he didn’t qualify. And then, we all got COVID, our son stopped sleeping for months, and my husband pulled out of his second attempt. Here’s where that children’s book didn’t have the space to delve into the down side of big dreams. Sometimes they don’t pan out. Even in perfect conditions with unlimited resources we can fall short of goals that hang on the edge of our current abilities. Although, in my opinion, that’s not the down side of dreaming, but the upside! That’s where character develops and resilience comes from – where we “get back up” and learn true satisfaction is found in the process, not solely the outcome.

After realizing just how difficult it is to get quality marathon mileage while also raising a baby and knocking out career goals, my husband pivoted his running resolutions in the new year to focus on running faster in shorter distances like the 5k and 10k. The key to a successful pivot is that our goals and resolutions remain exciting to us. My past resolutions seem to revolve around small “I’m going to do 10 push ups” or non specific “I’m going to get stronger” goals, and I think that because they don’t scare/excite me enough I don’t often complete them.

So, I’m going to set a more outrageous goal this year. With less time than I’ve ever had in my day, I’d like to run faster than I ever have in the marathon. I want to break a personal record I set more than a decade ago “in my prime” before my Achilles was a chronic bother and at a pace I can’t even currently hold for 5k. It doesn’t seem likely (even completing a marathon will take a lot at this point!), but a part of me says “I think I can” …and I’d like to give it a shot! My goal for 2024 is to break 3 hours in a marathon.

I’d encourage anyone reading this to set an outrageous goal of their own in the new year. Be President, land on Mars, start your own business. Say outload your most outlandish desire. There’s a whole acronym for setting realistic or “S.M.A.R.T” goals, and you should make some of those too. But, I got a wild hair while watching the New York City Marathon on T.V. in November and I’m stepping into 2024 with unbridled ambition (that I hope lasts through the next sleep regression!). I think I can, I think I can… Do you think you can, too?

(If you would like to set a fitness related goal, big or small, join us in our New Year’s Resolution challenge and you could win a pair of Brooks shoes! More information here.)

Happy New Year! -Sierra

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