I’ve wanted to run the Boston Marathon since I first heard about it, however many years ago. I mean, what runner doesn’t, at some point, fantasize about climbing Heartbreak Hill, crossing the iconic finish line, and sporting that yellow and blue finishers medal around their neck?
So, naturally, I got the idea in my head that I’d be able to qualify for Boston in my first marathon. And if not the first time, then definitely the second time, in Chicago.
Let’s just say I’m not the most logistical person.
But I tried to be. I obsessed over pacing charts on Strava, and played around with my current run times and the times and paces I’d need to get that coveted 3:35:00 time (for my age and gender group). I figured it was totally doable because I had a few fast treadmill workouts. I didn’t really consider the fact that I hadn’t ever run a distance longer than a half-marathon. Nor the fact that I’m just not “fast enough” to qualify right now.
I think it’s super important to have goals while training. For me, it helps with motivation, especially on the days when I don’t feel like running or I’m moving at a glacial pace along the side of the road. I find it fun to fantasize about running marathons in my favourite cities, hitting personal records and making that trip to Boston. But sometimes my ego gets wrapped up in my goals and I put myself at risk of jeopardizing my current training plan.
Have dreams and big, big goals. But also know that it’s okay – and totally normal – to have to spend time and energy to reach them. I started to push myself too hard trying to cut down my paces and overall times, and ended up wearing out my legs. As a result, I’ve felt exhausted for the last week or so and it’s been brutal trying to get through my workouts, which I’m usually happy to do. After another day of feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, a took some time to reflect, and realized what I’d been doing, and the thought processes surrounding my actions.
I got caught up in the hype and the dream. I was comparing myself to people on Instagram who have qualified and are getting ready for Boston this April. I forgot, for a minute, that it’s more powerful to encourage others on their goals and success, and to focus on your own training.
Yes, I’ve always wanted to run Boston, and I hope that I get to do that one day. But when I signed up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon this spring, I told myself that all I had to do was try my hardest and finish. With my training times, I figure I can run a sub-four-hour race, which is pretty great, I think. It’s not a Boston Marathon qualifying time, but it sure is something to be proud of.
Meaghan Archer is a writer, runner, and yoga teacher based in Penticton, B.C. She’s currently training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon, and will run the Chicago Marathon in fall 2018.