Running After The Next Accomplishment

Runners tend to be goal-oriented. We sign up for a race, plan for it, train for it, and show up for it, and before we’ve had a chance to add our shiny new medals to our overloaded medal racks, we already are signing up for another one. 

What drives this tendency to always be running after the next accomplishment? And does it explain why so many of us struggle with injuries?

New Accomplishments

When you’re a new runner, it’s natural to keep setting new goals as you build your endurance and fall in love with running. While many people dive right in to half marathons, I started with 5ks, moved up to 10ks, and then found my favorite race distance in 10 milers. Getting comfortable with each race distance was an accomplishment that left me ready to conquer the next one. (I maxed out at the half marathon distance, but always feel that they are 5K too long!)

Beat The Deadline 5K

My 5K PR To Beat The Deadline

Who’s Accomplishment Is It?

Chasing after bigger and better accomplishments becomes more risky when the goals aren’t really your own. If you join a running group or make new running friends, you may find yourself get sucked into chasing their goals. Or maybe you catch FOMO from Facebook and sign up for a big race just so you don’t miss out.

I think there’s a fine line between healthy motivation and unhealthy peer pressure, and it’s hard to tell which side of that line you’re falling on when you’re making epic plans with friends. I ran the RagnarDC relay because my friend wanted to do it, and ended up having more fun than she did, but I’m not sure I’d feel the same way after joining her for a mud run.

Ragnar Relay DC Hill

Don’t I look like I’m having fun?

Is The Accomplishment Worth It?

Chasing after bigger and better accomplishments also can be risky if you are so committed to your training plan that you ignore warning signs of injury and over-training. This is a big weakness of mine, because I am such a rule-follower at heart. If my training plan says to run x distance at y pace, that’s what I will do, even if I feel a tweak in my knee when I kick up the pace. That 5K PR was a strain on my legs, which were just getting back in running shape after my summer “off” with a broken foot. Luckily I didn’t do any lasting harm, but I had to ease up on my training for the Army Ten Miler. 

Of course, you can get injured or have a disappointing race experience even if you do everything “right,” and that’s another thing that keeps runners signing up for races. Whether it’s the same race next year or the same distance on another day, another race brings the promise of a “do-over”–and another medal to add to our overloaded medal racks. šŸ˜‰

Deb Runs

Today’s Wednesday Word is accomplish.

What will you accomplish next?

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26 Responses to Running After The Next Accomplishment

  1. Carla says:

    I guess there just is NO HAPPY MEDIUM in life as this trait is something I adore about you—-and I do not have šŸ™‚
    At all.
    Id feel the knee twinge and think OH I SHOULD MOST LIKELY START WALKING NOW!
    World of work? Im more like you are.
    Fitness? SADLY NO.
    Carla recently posted…The Power of Personal First Aid Kits.My Profile

  2. I’m signed up for a half in December and I’d like to do one more this fall. But I don’t have any big goals coming up. It feels a little weird!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…What Do You Want To Accomplish?My Profile

  3. I’m getting better and better at listening to my body — I think. Taking off Monday was a huge thing for me! But the right thing.

    I also started with a 5k, and slowly moved up from there. I’m still really on the fence about a full marathon. If I were a faster runner, I’d totally try it. Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t do it, but running that long is just not attractive to me.

    You have to listen to that inner voice!
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…How will I Accomplish My Goals?My Profile

  4. Kimberly G says:

    I often think about my next running accomplishment. When I first started running I just wanted to be able to run a 5K without stopping. Once I achieved that, I set other mini goals for myself.

    I’m currently training for my first marathon. I’m not sure if this will be the only marathon I ever do, but I do not this will be the maximum distance that I run – no ultras in my future!

  5. You know I always have FOMO! I can’t help myself from signing up for too many things. I do like (need) to have a goal to work towards.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Workout Mistakes My Trainer Wishes I Would Stop MakingMy Profile

  6. These days I just want to accomplish being out there and still running. I’ve accomplished most of my running bucket list so I’m mostly out there for the fun. That’s not to say I don’t train hard, just that my goals are somewhat different than they were when I was younger.
    Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs recently posted…5 Training Tips to Help You Conquer a Hilly RaceMy Profile

  7. Karen Bayne says:

    You are right about following a plan, it often makes me want to ignore the warning signs that I need to back down…like right now lol currently fighting the battle.
    I think I often feel pressure to look for the next thing! Sometimes it would be nice to sit back and have zero things we “have” to do but most of get in that predicament and the next thing we know we, we go and sign up for something .

  8. I’ve already run my fall goal race (RnRPhilly on Sunday) so it feels a bit weird to not have another goal race on the calendar. Although I’m running Wine and Dine in November, its for fun and I won’t run it with a time goal in mind. It feels really weird, and I’m starting to get eager to figure out another goal race for myself.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…Rock ā€˜nā€™ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Training Log ā€“ Week 12My Profile

  9. What a fresh take! Very rarely do I stop to think about the downsides or risks of chasing more accomplishments, I just look for the personal glory – but injury and overtraining are very real possibilities. Your post is challenging me to make better goal decisions, thanks!
    Amanda @ Adventures with FitNyx recently posted…Beating the BridgeMy Profile

  10. HoHo Runs says:

    Yes, those do-overs are powerful things (as well as the overloaded medal racks ;)). I have no new goals after Chicago. I hope I’ll be healthy enough to run a few half marathons. They are my favorite distance.

  11. Cassi says:

    Fitness wise I want to be stronger. How strong? Not sure what limitations to put on that other than I have no desire to be a bodybuilder or competitive lifter.

  12. Jenn says:

    The fitness world does lend itself to FOMO and peer pressure, but in some ways, that excitement and enthusiasm does keep us going. As long as people are smart and don’t push themselves into injury (or give themselves time to heal when necessary), I don’t think it’s the worst thing.

    Next up for me? A Ragnar trail. It’s something I have been wanting to do, and now I’m in it. Eek!
    Jenn recently posted…wednesday word: accomplishMy Profile

  13. Kristen says:

    This is so true! And probably why I ended up injured. There are so many bloggers out there that can run crazy distances all the time, so I figured I’d just run one more little half marathon…and here I am still injured a year later. Race FOMO is real! Now if I want to sign up for something I know I really want it because the amount of work it takes to train without re-injuring myself is so much.
    Kristen recently posted…Fall Fitness GoalsMy Profile

  14. I do feel a little at a loss without a goal in mind. And FOMO is real! So is that need for a do-over…which is why I’m already thinking of signing up for RnR Philly again!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted…2016 RnR Philly Race RecapMy Profile

  15. I am looking forward to Cape Cod this weekend- I like the idea of the mix of yoga and running- it sounds like a good time to me!
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…My Fit Foodie 15K recap- Tampa StyleMy Profile

  16. So true that if you let commitment trump common sense it can be bad. I once was too stubborn to give up on a run streak and ended up pretty injured, which is why I don’t run streak.

  17. One of the hardest things for me as an older runner is not being able to run whatever race I want to, whenever I want… I remember signing up for at least two marathons the week before just because my friends were running them. That could never happen these days, and it’s probably a very good thing.

    Thanks for linking up, Coco!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…We Thought You Said Rum ā€“ 2016 Ragnar DC Recap Part 2My Profile

  18. All very good points. I definitely get it. I keep seeing people doing Ragners and they look so fun based on what I read, yet I don’t REALLY want to do one deep down. Yet I kinda do bc I’m curious after reading everyone’s recaps lol. The dilemma is real!
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…Week 12 – NYC Marathon TrainingMy Profile

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