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Running to the Next Goal

I am often guilty of secret goals. Secret goals are goals a person has that they don’t want to share for fear that by sharing they are committed. These goals usually:

A. seem out of reach

B. are so big that they fear that others will think they are out of reach.

Sometimes they are a healthy mixture of both. Secret goals are so sacred that I have found myself withholding them from my closest friends and even my spouse. Eventually, they do come out, but not until I have mentally committed to the thing. I’m sure my friends could list a few of my secret goals from the past if they really thought about it hard enough.

I don’t believe secret goals are always a bad thing. Sometimes it's important to have enough confidence in yourself before you share. Secret goals have their place, and as a coach, I have worked with clients who’ve shared their goals with me in confidence that I would keep them to myself. My job is to help clients understand the reason behind their goals and help them in the process of reaching them. Is it out of reach? Should it matter if others think it’s out of reach? There have been moments when I believe a client’s goal is out of reach, but my belief doesn’t matter. I still help them work towards it, and sometimes they prove me wrong!

Recently though, I found myself holding onto a goal only to realize that my fear of sharing was holding me back. I realized that a little outside pressure would actually help me. One reminder came by doing 3 separate races in less than a month, all of which I outdid the goal I set for myself, trying to keep them "realistic". I was reminded that a little external pressure was good for me. I ran harder and faster than I had the last couple of years while I was recovering from a knee injury, and my body felt good!

In my early years as an athlete, I was more transparent about my adventures. I shared my progress photos on my Facebook page, I shared the meals I prepped, my hard days, and my results. At this time I was competing in bodybuilding and I truly felt I needed all the accountability I could get. Then it became normal for me. I found myself needing less accountability because I had enough within myself. I also found clients comparing results and feeling bad about their progress. That was never my intention, so I started posting and sharing less.

I’m writing all this on my blog because I want to share, and have been encouraged to share. First, I’m an MFA student (for those that don't know, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Nonfiction) and more writing is more practice. Second, I have a big goal and I want to document it. While running yesterday I heard a little voice in my head tell me not to. “You can’t share. This is a goal you may actually fail at.”

The thought felt ‘dirty’. Don’t share because you might fail? Of course, I might fail! Why only set goals you believe are attainable? Have I been doing this more and more lately? Setting only goals I know I will achieve? I want my friends and my clients to remember I am human too. Often I think many forget.

2020 was full of lessons for all of us thanks to COVID. But for me, it was a year of setting goals that my body told me I wouldn't achieve. First, a half Ironman. Swimming was causing me so much shoulder pain I finally had a long overdue MRI that resulted in a diagnosis of type 3 acromion hook. This was causing intense bursitis. I needed surgery. I pulled out of the race and wanted to try and avoid surgery. After a pitiful bout of depression, I decided I would compete again. Telling no one but my husband and coach for months until I realized that not only was my heart truly not in bodybuilding anymore, I couldn't modify lifting enough to not aggravate my shoulder. I ended the year with the goal to run 30 miles for my 30th birthday. But I didn’t because I injured my foot and knee in the process. I was devastated. I'd set the goal with hopes to achieve it before I had shoulder surgery in mid-December. I ended the year with surgery and 3 unfulfilled goals.

(This is probably when I started keeping my goals to myself all the time!)

In 2021, I registered for a 50K (31 miles) which would happen 3 weeks before my 31st birthday. I ran it, but it wasn’t pretty. I injured my knee and though I did run it, it was painful. I spent all of 2022 running much slower, doing PT, and digging into zone 2 training trying to build a solid aerobic base. I was taking care of my knee and foot and lifting consistently to prevent injuries. I managed to run two 50K’s pain-free.

Now, I have my heart set on a 50-mile race in September. My husband and I have had a strong start to 2023. We’ve run a fast half marathon, a 30K trail race in Arizona, and I ran a fast 10K this weekend. We’re registered for a marathon and a 50K. All in preparation for a fall 50-mile race.

The strategies and goals I have to get there:

  • I need to increase my weekly mileage so I am running at least 50 miles a week to know I can do the race itself. Currently, I am running 25-30 and in the past found that 40 was my max before I had injuries creep up.

  • Due to my knee, I’ve reduced my running frequency to 3-4 days a week and I don’t plan to stray from that too much.

  • I will continue to lift at least 3 days a week.

  • We’ve been doing daily yoga using the Down Dog app (I strongly recommend this app) and this will continue!

  • I will continue to hit my daily step goal on non-running days as time on your feet is a critical strategy for ultrarunning. On days I can’t run due to something (like an upcoming sinus surgery) I walk the time or distance instead.

  • I will keep having fun with my training. In all the things I’ve accomplished as an athlete (bodybuilding, cycling, running, triathlon) I know my time is up and I need a break from the sport when I stop having fun. During both bodybuilding and cycling, I felt a significant shift in my attitude about both sports when it was time to move on. One thing that is helpful is to build in breaks. For Sam and I, these breaks generally come naturally in the form of vacations, kid events, or work/school schedules. When they don’t then they need to be scheduled breaks.

  • I will share and document progress on my blog for you to read (even if ‘you’ is just Kelcey who I know will be a loyal reader of anything her best friend writes) but if you are reading, comment and say hi!

So there it is, my secret goal is no longer a secret. I’m mentally prepared that my foot or knee might have different plans for me. They might nudge me and say, “hey man, stick with 50K’s!” My years of training have me less afraid to abandon a goal that isn't working.

Thanks for reading!

Upcoming Races:

April 22: Boise River Marathon (Registered!)

May 28: Hurricane Creek 1/2 Marathon (not yet registered/committed)

June 24: Wy'east Wonder 50K (Registered!)

Completed 2023 Races

March 20-27 Training:

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I’m so glad you decided to share! I’m looking forward to reading your updates and seeing you and Sam crush that 50 miler! You guys got this!!


Unknown member
Mar 19, 2023

Thanks for sharing my goals, I think I have to write them down and be consistent with my training. Knee problems with age too start to creep in

Wish you all the best. Love Essie.

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