Running Goals 2014: Hard Ones and Soft Ones

AJWs TaproomAs the new year begins, I cannot help but direct my attention to annual goals. Not resolutions, necessarily, as they can be a bit stifling. Rather, at this time of year I like to focus on reachable but aspirational goals that can help direct my attention appropriately and hopefully, along the way, make me a better runner and person.

For 2014 I have some specific ‘hard’ goals as well as some more nebulous ‘soft’ goals. So, in no particular order, here they are, three of each:

Hard Goals

  1. Run 3,000 miles. In 2010, I ran 4,000 miles. Since then, it’s been all downhill. 3,212 miles in ’11, 2,747 miles in ’12, and 2,600 miles in ’13. While I know all miles are relative, I’d like to get back to 3,000 miles this year, at least. Call me compulsive, but it’s my goal and I am sticking to it.
  2. Finish my 10th Western States. This has been a dream of mine since I first toed the line in 2001. It’s been a long and winding road but as anyone who reads this website knows, it’s become a bit of an obsession for me. As the calendar ticks down to June 28th, I am thrilled to share the 10th running experience with Erik Skaden, John Nichols, and the indefatiguable Tom Green.
  3. Stay uninjured for a whole year. I know this may sound lame to some of the invincible runners out there, but I simply want to run one full year uninjured. The last time I did that was 2010. Since then, I have had plantar fasciitis, a torn meniscus, and a serious hip/hamstring/glute issue. I know I am ‘my own worst enemy,’ but at least it’s worth a try. Advice from other mid-lifers who’ve stayed injury-free for a full year would be much appreciated.

Soft Goals

  1. Pay more attention to detail. Pretty much everyone who knows me calls me a ‘big-picture guy.’ I am good at finding themes, trends, and threads running through things. Conversely, I am not so good at connecting those disparate things in the context of the details that, ultimately, make up the essence of our lives. Therefore, for 2014, I pledge to pay more attention to detail. Please call me on it if I stray!
  2. Accept what I cannot control. I have come to the conclusion that acceptance is the essence of middle age. While the 20’s and 30’s are filled with hope, optimism and vigor, the 40’s and beyond are filled with the rest of life. As such, we need to take that acquired wisdom and understanding and use it to our advantage. Before it kicks us in the ass. A big part of that process is accepting what is and discarding what isn’t.
  3. Simplify my life. I must admit I have been trying to do this for years, but this year, more than ever, I am really going to try to do it. The simple life is more fun, more safe, and more sane than any other life and I, for one, want it to be my life. Like my grandfather always used to say, “Keep it simple, stupid!”

Bonus Goal

Okay, I’ll admit it, I want to finish my last Western States in 2014 in the top 10.

There, I said it!

WS Race Director Craig Thornley has already told me he won’t let me into the race in 2015 regardless of how I finish in 2014 so I won’t be running for continuance as I did in all the years between 2004 and 2011. Rather, I’ll be running for pride and for the hopes and dreams of all who wish to run 100 miles. And, I must admit, I have drawn tremendous inspiration from those second-five top-10 finishers in 2013 (Paul Terranova in particular. In fact, check out Bryon’s pre-race interview with me before WS 2013 when he asked about surprise top-10-ers and see how his eyebrows rose when I mentioned Terranova’s name. :-)

I started running these things, quite honestly, as a regular guy who wanted to get in shape and loved the trails. Along the way, I found a sport, an event, and a community that got into my heart and soul and became an essential part of my being. Sure, I have enjoyed the ride and all that it’s meant to my family and me, but most of all I’ve enjoyed the journey, and I’d be a bald-faced liar if I said it didn’t want to put it all out there one last time.

So, everybody, here’s to training our butts off in 2014. It’s going to be a great year!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week
Highland Brewing - Cold Mountain Winter Ale

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina. My friend, Jason Farr, tipped me off to their very limited edition holiday ale called Cold Mountain Ale which is truly outstanding. Balanced, focused, and full-bodied it, quite frankly, reminds me of me. :-)

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

What are your goals for 2014?

There are 25 comments

  1. ClownRunner

    Best post ever AJW!

    My main goal for 2014 is to do away with lame top ten lists.

    Not getting injured is an impossibility for me, so I won't make that a goal… :(

    I hope you ramp up to WS with quality miles and big smiles, and I hope you go 3,000 and beyond… :)

    Here's to great craft beer in 2014, and keep up the great posts!

    Happy New Year to all

  2. Andy

    Turning 50 in less than 2 weeks, the only advice I would have about staying uninjured is, well, lame … Run less. I recall the occasionally injured but otherwise remarkably resilient Speedgoat Karl talking about volume being overrated as we age. I guess like many things it's finding balance, in this case between goals for a 3,000-mile year (that's 60-mile weeks if my math is right, which is pretty heavy for us 40-somethings) and the goal to stay healthy

    Whatever it brings, hope 2014 is full of goals well-met. Worse comes to worst — less running, more writing!

  3. rfgordon2013

    To run uninjured! Ah, what a great goal. I notice that the goal is not: Run without pain or discomfort.

    Upon seeing the big bottle of Vitamin I on my desk, a colleague asked, "Is something hurting you?" My answer: "I'm a 53 year old distance runner. Something always hurts."

    As I get older, I hope to get better at discerning between (what my doctor euphemistically calls) time-related biomechanical issues and real injuries. Just hurts or gets sore? Non-injury. Keeps me from running? Injury.

    As for my goals: go long, go slow, take lots of pictures.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Marty_KC

    AJW: Stay uninjured for a whole year. It CAN be done! I'm 54 (and 3/4), and while I am no where near your speed, I would suggest Fast/Slow. I've been (mostly) injury free for three years, while INCREASING my mileage, last year setting PR's in the 50K, 50 mile, and completing my first Hundo. I don't agree with "reducing mileage" or "running less", I subscribe to the theory that as runners we tend to run the same pace all the time. Either run fast, or run slow. Running the 8 or 9 or 10 min (or for me 12-13 min) paces all the time is hard on you. Stop, enjoy the view, walk a bit. Or, bust a lung: run sub 7 or 8 on tough climbs. Good running to you in 2014.

  5. jstemple

    As a 67 year young almost ultra newbie my goal is to finish my first 100 miler, no major injuries & wanting more. Cheers/jim

  6. mgildea1964

    I turn 50 years old this year and I ran over 2000 for the first time in 2013. My goal for 2014 is to finish my first 100 miler and make sure I enjoy the miles I run. I am so lucky to get to run on such beautiful trails around northern Virginia. Just like rfgordon I plan on taking lots of pictures this year.

  7. Bryon of iRunFar

    I don't know that I'll set any hard running goals for 2014.

    I guess it'd be nice to run 25% more miles and vert than in 2013. That mileage should easily be my highest annual mileage.

    I'd like to run well at Laurel Highlands, but I won't set a goal until my training starts rolling along. It could be to finish comfortable… it could be to break 12 hours. We'll see.

    I'd like to find time and build the fitness to go on a looong adventure run around Moab.

    I dream of being able to have a couple minute conversation about trail running … in Spanish.

    I hope to reduce my running-related anxiety this year… and enjoy running more.

    I wouldn't mind running 300 days… or at least logging 300 runs.

    I want to run more on my work trips … including a fun run (not just a short shakeouts) on most if not all.

    I want to be a better uphill runner. This will have more to do with improving fitness than strength. I live in very hilly terrain and continuous running is a challenge. One that I want to take on.

    Run more with Boy, the local dog. Go on more adventure runs with Meghan.

    So, yeah, I guess I have running goals for the year… but most are pretty soft/nebulous.

  8. MonkeyBoy

    atta boy, Jiz. set the bar and move towards it. you never did anything well by dumbing it down. here's to finding those extra minutes in 2014

  9. @EnlowLori

    1. To see "5" as the first number in my 1 mile speed test
    2. Top 10 femal finish at Cayuga 50 mile USATF championships in June
    3. Participate in a US Skyrunning event- La Maratona
    4. Finish top 10 female at Tor Des Geants (if I get in) or Top 5 female finish at Tahoe 200..I know I will finish one of these two this year..beyond that all things are possible…I think. Cheers.

  10. teecakes

    Dear AJW,
    2 years ago, I ran a local cross country 5k and injured my hip. I could barely walk for 2 weeks and it was a month before I ran again. That blew months of planning and training for a longer race I had been looking forward to. So, be aware of the effort you put into what should be fun runs and don't let competitive nature get the best of you.
    Being 41 now, I have steadily noticed over the last 2 years that cross training (e.g. swimming, spin class, hiking) and, especially, weight lifting are key in improving my overall fitness and keeping me running strong.
    Reducing mileage helps me, too. If 3000 is the magic number, that might not be your choice. With a wife, 4 year old, a new baby due in June, work, etc… 40 to 50 miles a week is all I can squeeze in. But, it keeps me sane and happier than just about anything else (except a powder day snowboarding).
    My goal for 2014: to run one 50 mile event and keep up the 5 out of 7 days a week thing I try for.
    Also, thanks for your column — always worth the read and often helps make my day better.
    Happy New Year! Cheers!

  11. ultradad58

    Run and FINISH my first 100 miler this year – at Old Dominion and pick up a buckle (sub-24 hours) in the process. 2014 is my redemption year and although I had a decent 2013, I DNF'd at 82 last year at OD.

    I hope everyone has a great year of running and realizes their goals for 2014.

    Love the beer reviews too, unfortunately, I am giving up alcohol (among other things) until June 8th.

  12. @mauripaglia

    Great write up AJW!
    Now…my goals for 2014. Simple:

    .Travel back to WS to crew my friend
    .Crew some other friend in HR
    .Meet/enjoy/run the Grand Canyon for the first time
    .Finish Patagonia Run under 16 hs to qualify to WS 2015
    .Write more, work more, less facebook and twitter. That should be the hardest one.
    .Teach Bryon Spanish
    .Drink a beer with AJW in Squaw or Auburn.
    .Kiss my girl and my little niece even more often.
    .Have more runner friends from outside Argentina in my house.

    That's it so far. Cheers to both and have an awesome 2014! See you in Squaw.

  13. ToTheTrails

    My goals for 2014…once I finish up my tweaking of career end of March, an epic road trip out west focusing on Montana, Colorado, Utah, Northern Cali and just run trails and mountains and find a community I can press the reset button with and begin a new life.
    I will enjoy the trails and mountains each and every step first and foremost whether I am running, hiking, or crawling.
    I will volunteer or crew as many trail races I logistically can to give back to a sport that has given me so much.
    Perhaps be a volunteer reporter for irunfar:)
    P.S., Southern Tier 2XMAS is yummy!

  14. @jasonefarr

    2014 Goals:

    -Run well at the inaugural Thomas Jefferson 100K
    -Finish Grindstone 100
    -Run under 10 hours at Mountain Masochist 50 Miler

    -Finally complete my dissertation in history!

    Thanks for the shoutout, AJW, and glad you enjoyed the Cold Mountain Ale. It's something I look forward to every winter!

  15. Steve Pero

    At 62, my running days are diminishing and I accept that…I've had a great 39 years of running!

    So for my 63rd year of life my focus will be…
    – Qualify for Boston
    – Move back to New England
    – Run more road races
    – Train smart (One long run, one speed day, fill in the gaps with whatever, take days off when needed.)

    Happy 2014!

  16. Craig Thornley


    You go for it, man. Top Ten at WS is going to be very difficult, but you always seem to rise to the occasion on the last weekend in June.

    My goals as i'll be entering a significant new age group in a couple of weeks:

    – Run All-American mile track standard for 50 year olds: 5:10
    – Climb 5.12 rock
    – Volunteer at more ultras than I run
    – Make significant contributions to trails and help others do the same
    – Create the opportunity for 369 runners to have a world-class experience June 28-29.

    Here's to a great 2014!


    1. ajoneswilkins

      LB, awesome goals! Especially that 5:10 mile. And, that one about the world class experience in late-June, you got that nailed! See you soon!

  17. Nick Jenkins

    My goals are: Improve times in Trail des citadelles 71km and trail des cretes 50km (I live in France if you haven't just guessed).
    Run the equivelent vert of 14 mt Everests (I was just 700 metres off last year!)
    Improve speed over distance.
    Improve downhill running, looking to feel more comfortable on 3 hr + descents.
    incorporate strength work
    Finish Grand Raid des Pyrenees 80km (I got in!)
    That'll do for 2014! oh maybe break 2000 yearly miles… But then its more about time on feet in the mountains!

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