Thursday, January 5, 2012

Evolving Expectations

With the Indoor Marathon Relay less than two weeks away, I've been thinking a lot about how I want and need to run this year's race. The girls on my team are friends I've made at the gym and through a mutual love of running. They are fast and I refuse to let them down with a sub-par performance. We're racing sub-7 minute miles and I've been doing my speedwork accordingly.

During this training, I've been kind of forced to think about how quickly expectations evolve. It was only last year I couldn't even run 8 minute miles at this same race. I was new to running and even 8:30 minute miles seemed fast. I also remember thinking a 25 minute 5k and just finishing a half marathon were hard to reach goals.

Expectations change over time
But after I achieved these things, I had new expectations. What used to be great was suddenly normal and after awhile, not even good enough. On a typical 5k race day, I expect to run sub-23 minutes. On a slow day, I'll maybe run 23:30. But a 25 minute race? Only if I'm walking part of it. These days, I'm chasing a sub-22 minute time - and after I run that, I'm sure my expectations will evolve again.

I have the feeling runners at every stage share this experience. I've even seen it in my mother, who just started running four months ago. In that short period of time, she's gone from trying to run one mile without walking to running a 5k without walking. While a 40 minute 5k time used to be the standard, these days it's hovering around 36 minutes.

Mom and I after the Haunted Hustle. Way to go, Mom!

So the bar keeps getting set a bit higher. But it's my belief that these evolving expectations give us something to strive for and in the end make us better runners. And in the end, isn't that the ultimate goal?

I'd love to know: How have your expectations evolved since you first began running?

- ST

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