You guys, it’s a new year.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see something that says it’s also a time for a new you. New look. New outlook. New whatever.
That’s true – a new year can feel like a new shot at whatever you need a new shot at. The key to making any change is dedication. Commitment. And an understanding of what motivates you, how to set goals and then to be fearless enough to try to meet them.
That’s why I sat down with Jacqui Meadors, a local runner and running coach, to talk about how to make this year your best running year. She coached middle and high school girls in track and cross country and now coaches women with Sioux Falls Women Run. And she’s an accomplished runner in her own right, so you know she understands when you tell her it hurts.
Name: Jacqui Meadors, coach with 605 Running Co. and Sioux Falls Women Run
From: Sioux Falls
Family: Rob (Husband), Claire, 3; Nora, 2 and Lauren, 9 months
Favorite race: New York Marathon, which she and her husband did on their honeymoon
Favorite distance to race: 10-miler
I don’t think she’ll mind if I share all her secrets. Here they are:
On goals: I always think it’s good to re-evaluate your goals and where you’re at short-term and long-term. … What do I want to do this year in terms of my running, or what do I want to try, and how do I want to challenge myself?
On the value of the little picture: When people have big, huge goals, they get scared to go for them. If you have a short-term goal, you can reach it, and then that’s the building block for anything. … If you can reach it, you have that confidence in yourself. The mental set is such a big part of it.
On the big picture: Sometimes those goals seem unattainable, but they aren’t. You just have to take the steps.
On training in cycles: When you break it down into these goals (short-term plans within a larger structured long-term program) and constantly reassess, then that long-term goal isn’t such a big deal. It’s all about the process. This is something I just learned through the help of Grant Watley (one of the owners of 605 Running Co.). There are those days you’re nailing things, and those days you’re not. That really helped me mentally, and it helped me physically. I was never looking too far ahead and never getting too nervous about what was coming.
OK, but what about when you don’t make it? I’ve missed my goals, and I think you just realize you’re human. The one thing I was always told was that tomorrow always comes. It’s OK to miss things. You have to show people it’s work, and it’s not an easy process.
Wait, is this what they call perspective? Really, you’re the only one who knows. Your close friends know, but it doesn’t change who you are as a person.
On not having goals: People don’t always understand why you’re in a race – that’s why you can’t compare yourself. I ran a couple races when I was coming back from pregnancy just to run them, not to race them. You don’t know if you’re going out for a race and someone else is going out for a run.
On balance: Running or fitness is just one part of a person’s life. And so to isolate it isn’t a very good choice. You’re a runner, but that’s just one part of who you are. To reach those goals, you have to have your other goals in check, too. What am I doing with my family and my job, and so you have to set other goals.
On answering people who say, “I don’t have time to run like you do!” We all have the same amount of time. It’s just how you use your time. If you want to run, if you want to go to church, do whatever, it’s just a matter of allotting your time.
On making excuses: Does life get in the way? Sure. Your kids get sick. You have to readjust. You just don’t want to make it a habit, because then you’re just not dedicated. And that’s OK.
On coaching with the Sioux Falls Women Run training team: There’s a real enjoyment there. You’re talking about women who want to better themselves, not just for them, but for their kids. You’re inspiring people behind them.
We sat and visited for about an hour while her daughters played with my daughter’s dollhouse (because other kids’ toys are always fun). It was a really nice afternoon just talking. Obviously I knew she would be amazing just because of her first name. But she was amazing because she was humble and friendly and easygoing. We moved from topic to topic and shared some of our running stories. Out of all of the notes from that sunny winter day, here’s my favorite bit of advice: “For the men and women who have been running a long time, they have some pretty lofty goals they are afraid of. What could you do if you just weren’t scared? There’s nothing to be scared of. … What am I scared of? I could try.”
That’s good advice for just about anything in life.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear each Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.
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