I don’t usually set New Year’s resolutions or goals or really whatever you want to call them. In fact, I don’t recall a time that I’ve made New Year’s resolutions before. However, this year I’ve been inspired!
A few months ago, I started listening to the Tough Girl Podcast. The podcast is produced and hosted by Sarah Williams, a wonderfully encouraging woman who has tackled some amazing challenges, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and running the Marathon de Sables across the Sahara Desert. In each podcast, Sarah interviews an incredible woman athlete and adventurer about her accomplishments. These podcasts are fantastic; I listen to them while walking to work, doing the dishes, folding laundry, doing mundane lab work, and any other time my body is busy but my brain is not. I highly recommend giving them a try.
In addition to listening to the podcasts, I’ve joined the Facebook group specifically for people who listen to the podcast. The women there are amazing and kind and most of all encouraging. Sarah has challenged everyone to come up with 7 goals for 2017, so here are mine!
1) Run my first half marathon.
“But Morgan!” you exclaim, “I thought you didn’t like running!” Well, sort of. I’m sure that my post about running the Hot Chocolate 5k last January doesn’t help with that illusion either. The truth is I don’t hate running, but it is definitely down on the list of outdoor activities I enjoy: mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, road riding, camping, then running.
Usually, when I get desperate enough in the winter, I’ll go for a run a few times. Nancy and I used to do that at Berry when it was too cold and windy to comfortably ride bikes (frozen hands are no fun) or go for a walk (not enough energy expenditure to stay warm) in the afternoons. Then, we would resort to running. But as soon as the temperatures started to rise, we would abandon running in pursuit of our more favored activities.
Last year was different. After the Hot Chocolate 5k, a group of girls from my lab decided that they wanted to start running consistently, so we started running during lunch. It was much more fun to run with my labmates than alone. Also, I noticed that I felt much better after getting outside for 30 minutes during the daytime. I usually have low energy in the winter; going to work in the dark, leaving in the dark, and even some days working in the dark, can really have an affect on me.
I came to enjoy our lunch time runs. I know that physical activity makes me feel better, but since coming to the city for graduate school, I’ve really struggled with finding something I enjoy that I can do during the week. Most of my hobbies involve leaving the city and getting to the woods, mountains, and trails. That is almost impossible during the week, even if my husband and I weren’t sharing one car! So, I found that running would do. Of course I would rather be running on trails than roads, even if they streets I run on do have incredibly cute houses. But you can’t beat running for convenience. I just put on my shoes and take off, right from my apartment or work.
Last winter, slowly our running group petered out. Many people had injuries, and come springtime others had severe allergies. This left just me and Erin. Soon we developed a good pattern, running during lunch about three miles. We are well matched in pace and stride, so she is a great running partner on that front. Running everyday also gave us an opportunity to discuss lab, life, and everything in between. It was a fantastic stress reliever!
However, neither of us dealt with running in the heat very well. We tried moving our run to the morning, but even then it became too hot. It was no longer a fun stress reliever, so we kind of just stopped. We kept saying that we would start running again once it got cooler, but work and schedules kept getting in the way. Thus, my first goal was born: run a half marathon!
I feel like running a half marathon is the kick in the pants that I need to actually commit to running again. It’s far enough that I know I won’t be able to do it without training, but not so long that it seems insurmountable. Already, it has motivated me to go running when I didn’t have a running partner and would otherwise have never gone.
I just signed up for the Berry College half marathon hosted by my alma mater. It will be nice to go back and visit campus again. The half marathon is March 11th, which is about 10 weeks out! My goal is simply to finish the half marathon. It would be fantastic to run the whole thing without long stretches of walking since there are no major hills, but we’ll see. It’s too early to decide if that is a feasible goal or not, considering I’ve never run anything nearly this long. Wish me luck!
2) Ride two laps at Fort Yargo.
I love mountain biking! It’s probably the outdoor activity that I do most often, especially since I have a biking partner who is almost always willing to go ride with me, my dad! I go through phases where I ride a lot or not at all or only a little but somewhat consistently. It’s never as often as I’d like. When I’m riding more often, I can tell. My legs are stronger and I have better endurance.
Even still, I’ve never ridden two laps at Fort Yargo. Usually after one lap, 12 miles, I am wiped. This year my goal is to ride two laps! My hope is that running consistently during the week in preparation for the half marathon will be effective cross training. Additionally, I’ll try to focus on some strength training for my legs, since power is usually what I lack while riding.
3) Do an unassisted pull-up.
I have never been able to do a pull-up on my own. Not even close! I’d like to, just to say I can, but also, I feel like being able to do a pull-up will help me climb overhung routes more easily. I don’t go climbing often, but when I do, I definitely struggle on anything with the slightest overhang.
4) Hike Tallulah Gorge.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Last year, Rachel and I visited Tallulah Gorge State Park, but we arrived at the park too late for a permit to actually hike the gorge floor. Instead, we hiked around the rim and saw some amazing views. Still, I’d like to hike the gorge itself. This will involve either camping at the state park or getting up very early to ensure that I can get a permit.
5) Go rock climbing outdoors at least once.
The last time I went rock climbing outdoors was two Thanksgivings ago. Tyler and I went to Rocktown, one of my favorite places to boulder. For whatever reason, this fall and spring, I never did make back to Rocktown or explore any other place for rock climbing. This year I’d like to go on at least one trip.
6) Go kayaking or rafting at least once.
Similar to climbing, I enjoy kayaking but just don’t do it very often. I’d like to make sure I go at least once this summer.
7) Complete a small 30 day challenge each month.
These smaller challenges are exercises or stretches that I can do in 10 minutes or less each day. The challenges may help me achieve one of my other goals, such as doing a pull-up, or may just address some other issue. Some of the challenges I have in mind are working on ankle stability, leg strength, posture (sitting at my desk for long stretches of time analyzing data is not helping), hamstring flexibility, and grip strength. I’m hoping that by focusing on one area at a time, I will actually be able to improve rather than being overwhelmed by trying to fix all the the things all at once!
Well, there you have it. Those are my seven goals for 2017! What about you? Do you have any goals in mind this year?