January might be my favorite month. It has a lot of competition from flashy months like April (Boston Marathon), June (anniversary), November (Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday), and December (Christmas and my birthday). But January is the month of possibilities. January starts a new year full of potential. Each year I try to set a theme. Even though this year is just seven days old, I’m ready to proclaim 2018 the year of focus.
2017 was my best year of running ever. I hit my secondary total mileage goal (3,650) and smashed my marathon PR by 11 minutes. The year also included my first Boston Marathon as well as my first overall win. It’s important to look back enough to understand what to expect and demand from the future. As 2018 starts, I’m incredibly grateful for my running journey. From a 6+ hour marathon debut in December of 2010 to the Boston finish line on Boylston Street.
What is it going to take to improve in 2018? Focus. Daily focus.
My themes from the past tend to overlap. Consistency and perseverance pull from the same characteristics. But this year I want to concentrate on narrowing my view.
First, I’m entering 2018 with specific running time goals and expectations, and I have a general plan. I’m splitting into spring and fall seasons with a month of light running (time off training) in the middle. Hopefully this new approach will help me avoid pitfalls I’ve hit in the past. The biggest one has been my traditional late summer/early fall flameout that leaves me depleted and in a hole starting spring training.
While I haven’t set a fall racing schedule, I have my key races lined up for spring. I’m racing the Phoenix marathon in February (will be my third straight), the Boston Marathon in April, and the Cap City Half Marathon here in Columbus, Ohio, two weeks later in April. (As a side note, I’m excited to be a Cap City promoter this year. Anyone wanting to sign up can use the promo code 18VOCBRENT for $10 off.)
I have really high, specific goals for each of these races. Hitting my marks will come down to preparation. I won’t be able to simply show up on race day and expect to drop goal pace miles. Daily focus will be the key.
But isn’t that the key for all of us no matter what we are chasing?
When I look back, I can look back at all of the times that I’ve failed. I can also see the victories sprinkled in. For all of the failures, you can probably draw a direct line back to multiple days where I lost my focus. The successes are directly linked to daily hard work.
I’m a dreamer, and that’s why January is my favorite (yes, even in the polar vortex). It’s easy for me to get lost in big-picture goals and thoughts. Instead of doing extra core work or strength training, I can waste time sitting and thinking about all of the giant accomplishments that might be ahead.
That’s why I’m determined to make 2018 the year of focus. Making all of the tiny daily decisions to fight the small battles. Getting up with my alarm and running in the morning, and yes that’s still a daily struggle for me. Not skipping any of my strength and core routine. Having the courage to tackle tough workouts on my schedule, and not getting down when I fail to hit goal paces.
I may sound like a broken record, but running is all about patience. Many of my posts echo that thought, but it’s because I need to remind myself often.
This year, I will concentrate on improving each day, even it it’s by a tiny amount. Those small victories add up, and eventually will equal a giant breakthrough.
The first week of 2018 was a disaster for me, and I failed to hit several of my basic daily goals. But instead of letting the small failures turn into big ones, I’m going to refocus. One bad week won’t ruin my year, just like a good week won’t guarantee success. As long as I’m focused daily and giving my best, I will be content with my results.
What are your plans for 2018? And what will you commit to working on daily to make them happen?
Together, let’s make 2018 the year of focus.