Great Expectations

Congratulations on completing your first Magic Mile! I hope everyone has put your times into Jeff’s calculator to see what your race times would be.  

So now that this is out of the way, what do you expect to get out of our training program? Do you want to run a full marathon? A half? A 10k? Your very first race of any distance? Are you ready to set your expectations…for yourself?

Setting expectations is a critical goal for any new or experienced runner. One of the first things you should set for yourself is a training goal. Whether it is training for your very first race or attempting to race a new distance, knowing what this goal is will be critical for your training this season.

As a member of the 18-minute pace group, perhaps setting a goal to run a full marathon seems impossible. It will take you over 8 hours to complete a full. It is not an impossible goal-if you want to do it, you can. The key is to make the decision first. Once you decide that you want to do a full, the next will be finding a race that is open long enough to accommodate your pace.  And set your expectations that it will be a long, hard training season.

This applies to ANY race you choose to enter. Find a race that fits YOUR estimated finish time.  The Magic Mile will help you calculate your estimated finish time. Use it. It is critical for a slow runner to respect the time limit for the race. The race director cannot remove you from a public street, but they can refuse to give you a finish time and a medal. They will remove support and in some cases, they will even remove directional signs. I know. I’ve been there.

Galloway is a TRAINING program. You show up, expecting to be trained to run a specific race and distance. But do not set unreasonable expectations. If you do not do the required midweek training, do not expect to achieve your goals. There is only so much running once a week will do. You HAVE to get out and do a minimum of two 30-minute midweek runs. Three, if you are planning on doing a marathon.

Expectations. A good runner learns to adjust them. If you can’t get the necessary training in, then race a shorter distance. Or delay your race. If you enter a race and can’t complete it in the necessary time, don’t insist on finishing. Come back next year when you have had another year to train. If you want to set a personal record, give yourself permission to miss it. If you can only run a 20-minute mile? Don’t expect to do a 15-minute mile without some serious training.

As your leaders, we have expectations.  We expect you to show up every weekend, and if you do not show up, we expect you to get your runs in any way you can. If you are on vacation, get up early and go for a run. There is nothing more exhilarating than exploring a new area than by going for a run. We also expect you to do your two midweek runs. Every week. No excuses. If you can’t find time to do the midweek training? We expect you to adjust your expectations and to not sign up for races for which you cannot properly train. Train for a half rather than a full. Preventing failure is understanding your limits and setting rational expectations.

Committing to a race is personal contract. Make a sign, write on it “I WILL COMMIT TO COMPLETING MY FIRST RACE,” hang it on your wall, the bathroom mirror, any place you see it every day. Do not accept any excuse. This journey will not be easy, and if you cheat yourself, you will not succeed.

In the next few weeks, learn to understand what you are expecting to get from this training program. As you increase your mileage, you should expect many things to happen to you if you are committed to your training program. Some people feel more energy. Some sleep more. Some feel more hungry. Some find their appetite is reduced.

One thing you don’t want to expect, but often occurs, is pain.

Pain is different from INJURY. We do NOT want to get injured. An injury is usually something that happens very quickly, is very painful and needs time to heal. Pain can be a result of an injury but pain may not necessarily be a bad thing.

DO NOT USE ADVIL, ASPIRIN, STEROIDS, or any other pain medication during your runs. LISTEN TO YOUR PAIN. Taking pain medications before a run is a bad practice and teaches you to ignore your body’s important signals. If you find you cannot run without taking a pain medication? Then you should be resting and healing and not running. Most likely, this also means you may have an injury and need to get medical attention.

Feeling pain is healthy. Imagine going through life not feeling pain. Most likely you will not live very long. People who are born with the inability to feel pain often require safety measures far beyond what most normal people need. Imagine never knowing you have blisters on your feet or have twisted your ankle or even need to eat. Pain IS a good thing.

Typical pain for a new runner is usually muscular. You will feel the most fatigue a day after your hardest run. This is why you should rest the day after a run. Give your muscles time to adjust. Over the season, this “delayed onset muscle soreness” will be less frequent, and usually only after you have exceeded your previous conditioning.

A cool bath (it doesn’t need to be cold to work), a soak in a pool, or a gentle massage with a roller will assist in this type of muscular pain.

During a run, experiencing any sharp, sudden pain is a signal to STOP. Do not “run through” the pain. This is a way to get seriously injured. There is no shame in stopping and either getting a ride back to the start or gently walking back in.

If you feel pain even when you are NOT walking is a sure sign that you have an injury. Go see your doctor. Make a record of your activity prior to the injury. What changed? Shoes? Diet? Sleep? Medications? Some types of medications can actually cause damage to your Achilles tendon, so it pays to read the labels carefully, even if you have used them for years prior to running.

Don’t hesitate to talk to your leaders if you experience pain during a run or afterwards. Most likely, we’ve experienced it, too. There is nothing wrong with having pain. There is, however, a lot wrong with ignoring it.  Pain is your friend and in the end, listening to it will make you a better, and healthier, runner.




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