Mandy Leonards, MSW, LCSW, USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coach, Certified IRONMAN Coach
"What if I fall? Oh darling, but what if you fly?" - Erin Hanson
I hope this blog post finds those reading it well. Maybe you stumbled upon my blog from Facebook or Instagram; maybe you found it through my website; maybe someone sent you the link. No matter how you found it, thank you for taking the time out of your day to visit and read!
A friend of mine and fellow triathlete reached out after a recent post I had on Facebook and told me I should turn it into blog post. So here I am to try to make it worth reading. The post was on my current goal I am focused on athletically, and how it may look different than other serious athletes or coaches. Right now I am training for a full marathon - specifically Mountains to Beach Marathon in Ventura, CA over Memorial Day weekend. I have not ran a full open marathon since 2018. After that marathon I had goals to do one in 2019 and try to take more time off with an ultimate goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Then, all hell broke loose with my back, sidelining me for months. When I was finally able to start running again, I was starting from scratch essentially and then boom- COVID shut down the world and racing.
So here we are. I am back at it. Last year as I was training for IMAZ, my run speed just was NOT where it used to be. Now - let me preface this with something. EVERYONE is different when it comes to running and paces. Being faster doesn't define you as a human or your worth. I want to make that VERY clear. It doesn't matter if you run a 14 minute mile or a 6 minute mile, you still matter and you are still a runner!
Now that being said, it is also perfectly okay to have personal goals for yourself and work towards them. I have never been a "natural" athlete. I wasn't one to get recruited for team sports. I almost failed gym class in high school. In my short stint in middle School track I was middle/back of the pack but I enjoyed when I was doing it. The point of me pointing this out is that I am NOT naturally a 7 minute/mile runner. I am not even naturally a 9 min/mile runner. If don't work consistently at my fitness and health, I easily can get out of shape. If I don't eat well, I gain weight very easily. If I don't workout, I get depressed. Genetics, brain chemistry and just body metabolic rate etc are part of this - and some things you just cannot control. It does not do me or YOU any good to focus on the things you cannot control. Focusing on the elite athletes that win marathons, Ironmans, or are on the cover of the magazines... does that help you reach YOUR goals? No. Focus on what you CAN control. You CAN control your effort. Your mindset. I am probably the most consistent athletes you'll ever meet. I never miss a planned workout unless I am really sick (thankfully hasn't happened since 2018) or injured (like I was in 2019).
Bottom line is that a train for endurance events for ME. I set race goals for ME. They are MY goals. Some of the athletes that I coach are faster than me and I CHEER them on! Nobody is the same. My training makes me happy, connects me to an amazing community of people that continues to grow daily and teaches me about myself inside and out.
So, my ultimate goal is still to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I don't know if I will do it this spring, to be honest. I am not confident yet that I will. But, I can promise myself and anyone reading this I will give it my best shot, see where the cards fall. If I don't qualify yet, I will not be quitting. I will pick another race and try again! I have done things athletically that I never imagined I could.
So friends, don't be afraid to fall. It's not "failing". It's a learning experience and you have to try to even get there. Set them for yourself. If you don't try, I can PROMISE you will never reach them. You can be happy for the people it comes easier to; to the friend who barely trains and manages to qualify for Boston or Kona -- but remember, that is their story, not yours. It doesn't make it better worse. It's just different, and that is okay! Life would be really boring if we were all the same.
I enjoy helping others set THEIR own goals and help them figure out how to reach them because I know what it’s like to feel a little lost and want to feel better. There truly is no greater feeling than seeing someone else reach THEIR goals, and helping them get there.