The postcard announcing the April event arrived along with the winter weight to my belly. For a runner, five miles is a modest goal. But despite giving running a go a time or two each year, I have never completed a run longer than a 5k (3.1 miles, if you’re like me and don’t know that off the top of your head).

This new goal meant going someplace I had never gone before.  I’d need a map.

Where am I?

To create my map, I first needed to know where I was. The last time I went for a run was so long ago I could not remember when it was or how far I had gone. Once I registered for the event, I laced up my shoes. With short walking breaks along the way, I was able to complete 2 miles. That’s where I was.

Where do I start?

I start where I am—really. Where I am in my head is not where I am in reality. In my head I am the girl with short chubby legs who never went out for a single sport in high school and had her GPA lowered by her grade in gym class. In my head I am “not athletic” and definitely “not a runner.” In reality, I have run three miles many times, climbed 40 flights of stairs without stopping, and am more fit than I was a decade ago.

How do I know I’m going in the right direction?

I want to go to a place of improved strength and stamina. I am not seeking to outrun anyone but my former self. I am headed toward a place of confidence in my ability to continue to stretch myself beyond past limits. I am going toward a celebration that I have a body that is so healthy I have the good fortune of being able to set out on a new path.

What’s the best route for me?

The best route for me is a clear one. I like to know where I am going and when I am going. For my training, I pick the days and the distances.  I put them in writing. If I can’t see the path, I’m likely to lose sight of it. When the temperatures dipped below freezing this week, it was easier to adjust my plans rather than be derailed by the setback of a spring snowfall.

What are my mileposts?

I broke my training into chunks.  When I saw on my map that I could take it one leg at a time, I was able to grow more sure as I moved forward. Two miles this week. Three miles the next.  I could do this!

Where do I rest along the way?

Deciding from the start where my breaks would be saves me from running myself into the ground. I get tempted with enthusiasm for new goals which inevitably leads to overdoing and to ultimately giving up on myself.  Rather than collapse in exhaustion or injury halfway through, I intend to give myself a break or two.

What is my ultimate destination?

Where I want to end is doing what I said I would do.  Keeping a promise to myself. Not giving up on me.

For me this is not a race but rather a pace that is all mine. With my map in hand, I trust I can find my way.

Coach Koenig

Is it time to set a goal for going someplace you’ve never been?

What’s important for your map?

How can your map make your travels easier?

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