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Interval Running taught me how to reach my goals

Breathing heavily, I sit on the chair, my head low, but not quite between my knees.  I can feel sweat rolling into my eyes and stinging them.  The dog runs over.  He's ready for his walk.  I have gotten into the habit of taking the dog for a walk after a run.  It is my indicator of whether I could run faster or longer on my next run.  Today's indicator said no way.  My dog finally gives up and sits in the corner. 
Interval run is a great tool for reaching goals.
Slowly my breathing returns to normal.  I look at my watch.  11:50 per mile.  I added 30 seconds per mile.  OK, I thought, I'm still within the time limit of the race. It's the humidity, it's got to be the humidity. 

I'm not a big fan of exercise.  I'm not a just-do-it kind of gal, I need motivation that doesn't require cliché statements.  I understand there are benefits: I can run upstairs without getting out of breath, I hike better, and I've lost weight.  These things may get me out the door but they don't always keep me running.  My new best friend is interval running.

Interval running is a process of alternating running and walking to complete a distance.  So for my first half marathon I ran 5 minutes and walked 1 minute continuously until I completed it.  Lately, I am running two minutes and walking one.  I am training for a 10K coming up in a couple of months.  I do it for exercise but signing up for a 10K gives me a bigger picture and a challenge.

In this last practice run, when I got to my last mile, I felt like collapsing.  I thought perhaps I should just walk the rest of the way home.  The heat and humidity was intense.  Midway through my two minute interval, I stopped running.  I was out of breath, my head was pounding and I was having difficulty keeping form.  A minute later my watch began to beep to tell me to start walking and then I realized, why not reverse it.  I'll walk 2 minutes and run for 1 minute.  When things are challenging allow yourself to adjust your goals so you can take smaller steps or to take additional breathing time to re-strategize.  It allowed to finish without feeling like I failed but respecting my body's limitations.
What do you see on the journey to your goal?
I am sure you have heard that to reach a larger goal, you need to make little goals to get there.  The same is with interval running.  On a long run, I find myself saying - just two minutes, just make it through two minutes and you are that much closer.  That one minute walk allows me to congratulate myself for getting that much closer, to recover from the last run, to see where I came from, look at the trail in front and prepare for my next run.

When working on smaller goals, you may find them mundane and boring, so allow yourself to pause after each goal, to take a breather, to look behind you, congratulate yourself, then look in front of you to see how much closer you are and prepare for your next goal.

My husband used to chide me about my interval running.  "Why don't you just get it over with?" 

I said, "I get bored while running and then I don't want to do it anymore.  When I'm running I'm so focused on my breathing and my form and that everything is working, I don't have time to enjoy the trail.  If I'm going to keep running, I need to like it.  I like the walk to look at the plants, the trees, the animals.  Plus it gives me something to look forward to when I'm running."  He has come to appreciate and understand why I like interval running.  When we run together, we chat on the walks. 

When working on our goals we want to be at the end before we even start.  Although I would love to sprint the entire 10K, I know my capabilities.  I know I get bored of just running and interval running gives me a pause to look around me, enjoy where I am and take in the moment.

To put it more plainly:
  • When things are challenging allow yourself to adjust your goals so you can take smaller steps or to take additional breathing time to re-strategize.
  • Allow yourself pause between the small goals, to reflect on where you've been, look where you are going and to find motivation that you are closer to the larger goal.
  • Although they can be mundane, the smaller goals get you closer.
  • Enjoy the journey.
  • When you get to the end there is always a sense of pride.


  1. I can totally relate to this post. I have had to rearrange how I was doing something to reach my goal. It allowed me to finish what I needed to in order to get to where I needed to be.

  2. Joanne- There is an old saying "Take the Time to Smell the Roses". Sometimes the journey means more than actually getting to the end. I run a dachshund in agility. Yes I want those ribbons but the journey that this dog has taken me on, is making those ribbons worth the effort. People come up to me all the time and say I don't know you have the patience to work with a dachshund. Each time we get a title, I look back at what I did to get there and it makes me smile. The journey keeps you alive.

  3. You have to enjoy the journey in order to benefit from it. That's why I had to modify what I was doing those last couple of weeks of Tai Cheng.

  4. My husband would love to get back to running but he fractured his ankle last year and now says it didn't heal right. So it hurts when he runs :(

  5. What a great post. Sometimes you need to make take spurts to accomplish things. Congratulations on running marathons. That is GREAT. :-)

  6. This is a great relate-able to life in journey. Seems to me that we all need to pivot. I don't think the road to any goal I have had has ever been without at least one detour! That fork n the road where you have to make a decision to go left, right or cut a new path....

  7. Wonderful post. I am currently on a journey right now. I did want to reach the end fast but I am actually enjoying the process that I have been going through. It's helping me grow as a person and have better faith .

  8. My interval efforts have fallen off since I moved, and I can definitely tell how my stamina has gone down. At least I know it will improve as I gradually get back on track.

  9. That pausing to reflect, and then maybe even to celebrate progress, is so motivating. Otherwise for me, I forget, "Why the heck am I doing this?" Keep on going Joanne.

  10. I love the comment at the end... enjoy the journey! My wife took up running about 7 years ago, and is absolutely addicted. As much as I try to run, I enjoy the journey of walking and enjoying my surroundings... Great post!!

    Thank you for sharing!!

  11. I'm not a big fan of exercise either! But I know I need to. I love your thoughts and have utilized similar approaches to my treadmill workouts. I constantly change the incline and speed and even jog (gasp!) every few minutes. It's just a start for me but it helps me not stay bored. I can completely relate! Thanks for a great post!

  12. I am so not a fan of exercise either. I understand how good it is for you, how it makes you feel afterwards, but it is hard to get the motivation. I will check in with your tips from here on and see how we go :)


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