Beth, center (in blue), celebrates her fastest marathon finish in eight years, following the Med City Marathon, May 29, 2016, in Rochester, MN. "The race didn't go quite as hoped," she said. "I finished in 3:49:05, 9:05 from Boston Qualifying. The knee hurt and when it didn't, I was exhausted and had to take a walking break ... But, no permanent damage and I'm very proud of finishing in my fastest marathon in eight years!"
Moms on the Run franchise owner and head coach
There’s nothing like crossing a finish line and realizing you’ve reached -- or even crushed -- a goal you’ve been working toward; it’s amazing!
But what happens when you don’t meet your goals? Injuries, race conditions, race course and various life challenges can all get in the way, resulting in the failure to reach a goal. How do you go on? What are the next steps? How do you deal with the successes of others when you didn’t quite achieve your goal?
Yes, I’ve failed to meet my running goals. More than once. And this is my five-step plan for dealing with it:
- Get Mad. And Get it Out.
First and foremost, it’s OK to be angry and disappointed. It’s OK to replay the race or the whole training season in your mind, trying to figure out what you could have done differently. It’s OK to cry. What is harmful is if you don’t give yourself an end to the negative thoughts. Get it all out. But set an end date: one day, one week, or whatever you need, within reason.
- Choose Your Next Goal.
After the “end date,” your focus should quickly shift to the next goal. What steps will you take to get there? What makes the most sense for you? Running is a journey, and everyone is at a different stage. You may not be in your optimal stage at this point, and it can be hard to watch others who are thriving. Remind yourself that with time and effort, you will get there, too. On your own schedule.
- Listen Up. Injuries Don’t Lie.
If injuries keep getting in the way of your goals, remember that your body is trying to tell you something. Focus on how your body feels. Which muscle group feels tight or imbalanced? What repetitive motions might be causing some of the issues? Take time to take stock so that you can figure out how to get better.
- Add Fun To the Mix.
Try to inject fun along the way, organically! It can provide a huge boost as you work to reset your goals. Is there another activity you can focus on that will help you enjoy exercising? Maybe it’s a trail hike or paddle board lesson, if you enjoy nature. Or maybe this is your chance to add more yoga or strength training to the mix. Try something new to help get you excited about being active again.
- Think About the Silver Linings
Failing to meet a running goal can present you with new opportunities. It can provide the nudge you needed to hit pause, reflect on and re-evaluate your journey. Where do you want to head next? What timing seems right? We often hold on to the same workout routines because the sheer familiarity can feel comforting. So consider it a “gift” of sorts to be in a position to plot a new course, or tweak your route a bit.
And remember, the things you have to fight the hardest for in life will result in the sweetest victories!
Looking for a supportive, all-women's environment to help prepare for your next fitness goal? Check out Moms on the Run to find the location nearest you.
Beth Jensen is a franchise owner and head coach with two Moms on the Run locations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, White Bear Lake and Shoreview. A former NCAA Division I cross country student-athlete, she spent six years in the U.S. Air Force and has completed 17 marathons, including two Boston Marathons. She resides in Vadnais Heights, MN, with her husband and four children.