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  • Michelle Howell

New year, new season, who this?

The holidays are officially over and to be honest, I'm happy they are. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Grinch. I lust after the pizza freit, pizza dough fried in a pan then covered in sugar (eaten right away it's close to heaven or a diabetics worst nightmare-take your pick), my family makes on Christmas day and love the usual family interactions that ensue. I am happy they're over though because they mark the end of the year and a return to normalcy.

Normalcy meaning back to the running grind, back to working toward this year's goals, back to living the grandma lifestyle and going to bed before 9:00. Just before going back to this though I did spend December 31 binge-watching the new season of You. I got to the part where the main character ( a more psychopathic version of Dan Humphrey) embarks on a wellness retreat during which they engage in a kumbayah circle sharing intentions for themselves. While this probably isn't the part of the series producers meant to grab my attention, it got me thinking about my own intentions for the 2020 season.

In the past, I've always relied on goals to help direct my life whether it was trying to get honor roll or completing a perfect headstand in yoga. I like having something to guide me. At the beginning of the season, I write down my intentions for the training period and then continue to write them down over and over and over again. I turn to them when I feel like cutting corners. I turn to them when I'm feeling lackluster after a workout or when I simply don't feel like I'm doing all I can to be better. They're more than a guide, they're motivation to keep going.

"A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down becomes a plan. A plan backed by action becomes reality"- Greg Reid

However, in the past year, I found myself a little lost when my goals for the year (albeit initially) went off course. I felt like I had aimed too high. Instead of seeing them scribbled down in the margins of my journal and feeling inspired on a rough day, I'd look at them and feel deflated.

This year I don't want that (who would?). So I'm sharing my goals, no matter how big or small (speaking my intentions to the universe as they say) and making my intention for this year to maintain positivity in regards to my process and relationships.


I started becoming better at goal setting in college because of my coaches. We'd start the year with a meeting centered on what was on the chopping block for the year. Off the bat, I learned quickly the difference between a goal and an expectation. Expectations can be limiting, they're things you expect to happen and when they don't there isn't flexibility or room for error. Last year my expectation was to PR indoors. It might sound loft now, but at the time I felt fit. I knew I had underachieved my last year of college relative to how my training was going and was ready to ball out. Shocker, it didn't play out that way. My first meet was a true rust buster, injury followed, and things kept just missing the mark. This is where that deflated feeling kept creeping in when I'd look at my scratchy handwritten sub 2:04 scrawled in my journal.

My expectation this year is not time or performance-based. Instead, this year my expectation is to enjoy what I'm doing; enjoy racing, enjoy the process of growing, and be a fighter to the line. Even if races don't play out the way I plan these are the things I want to aim for regardless.


With expectations focused on my experience, I do have concrete goals for this season like hitting standards for the USA indoor and outdoor championships and getting into faster heats at regular-season meets (last year I kept just missing out, but hopefully with this still relatively new shiny PR to my name I should be able to get in). These are benchmarks though relative to my big goals for the year like being able to run consistently sub 2:03 mid. These benchmarks build on what I was able to piece together last year which to me is important because without growth what's the point really?

The one thing I'm not doing this year is setting a cap on a time I want to hit. I don't want to limit myself, I don't want to set up these ideas of what I am and am not capable of- something I tell my clients often so now I'm taking my own advice to heart.

This weekend I'll be starting the indoor season off with a personal record at Virginia Tech. How do I know this? Because never have I ever raced a 1k so no matter the time it's going to be a PR which reminds me of that feeling of just starting racing for the first time when the opportunities are endless just because you A. have no idea what your doing and B. there's no pressure. Maddie and I hit the road Thursday for Blacksburg to team up with our new UA teammate