Goal Setting Insights from a Fourth-time Marathon Runner

Four-time Boston Marathon champ Bill Rodgers has wisely said, “The advice I have for beginners is the same philosophy that I have for runners of all levels of experience and ability: consistency, a sane approach, moderation, and making your running an enjoyable, rather than dreaded, part of your life.”

That’s the same kind of wise approach fueling Clairbourn Head of School Dr. Amy Patzlaff’s interest in running. She explains, “I like to run in races because they keep me motivated and give me a goal—and the goal for me is self-improvement…to perform incrementally better than in my previous races.” In addition to the LA Marathon, some of her recent races include several 10K runs, and two Pasadena Half Marathons which she ran in 2018 and 2019.

Her consistent and sane approach to training includes the following elements:
• I plan the races I want to run
• I set up a training schedule to meet my goal (which is usually to beat my previous time)
• I work with a coach to push me and help me train safely and effectively

Dr. Patzlaff has completed the LA Marathon several times. Her first marathon was in 2004 and she ran/walked it solo. Her motivation was to accomplish something new for herself that was out of her comfort zone, athletic, challenging, and yet achievable. Her second marathon was in April of 2010, and she walked the whole thing with her sister Joanna Kibbe. Their goal was to walk it in under 6 hours, and they did it in 5 hours and 57 minutes with just three minutes to spare. Her third LA Marathon was last year in March of 2018. She completed that marathon, again with her sister, using an alternating run/walk pattern. They beat their last time from 2010 by over 30 minutes.

To accomplish that goal, they trained for 9 months and provided lots of mutual support to keep going. They were on the street at 5am running for five out of seven days each week. Dr. Patlzaff knows from experience that, “If you don’t put in the work, you don’t get the results. With a marathon, there is no cheating and no shortcuts. I like the challenge of it all—especially being able to track personal progress. Each part of the activity—the planning, the training, the support system, the 10Ks and the half marathons, and the final race—was an accomplishment for me.”

In order to make even more progress for the LA Marathon coming up this Sunday on March 24, 2019, Dr. Patzlaff shares, “I started working with a coach who pushes me and helps me to train in a different way. Once again, I started training seriously over the summer. This time I started running for longer stretches without taking a walking break. I was surprised to find that I could do it! It certainly wasn’t easy at first, but now my goal is to run the entire 26.2 mile race and beat my previous time. My longest training run was 20 miles, so I am pretty sure I can do it.”

Most importantly, Dr. Patzlaff is free of any desire to compete with others in the marathon or to impress people with a fast race time. She is emphatic that, “It is an interesting lesson for me to run MY race each time, and stick to MY plan. I am not running to beat other runners or to win something, I am only trying to do better than I did last time—just trying to improve. It is a good life lesson for me, that in most situations, we aren’t benefited by comparing ourselves to others but rather find a great sense of accomplishment in progress and overcoming perceived obstacles. Many people say, “I could never run that far.” Well, it turns out, most people could if they wanted to, but most people simply don’t have that as a goal, which is just fine. For those who want to do it, it just takes practice, dedication, and persistence.”

The Clairbourn community is excited for Head of School Dr. Patzlaff to take on this challenge! On Tuesday at the daily Morning Assembly, the student council presented her with a basket full of goodies, prepared by trustee Jane Marks, to encourage her and cheer her on. The basket included pasta and sauce for her pre-race carb-loaded dinner, water for hydration, and protein bars and energy chews for fuel during the race. It even had post-race supplies like, nuts, M&M’s, soft, cushy slippers, and Epsom salts for her tired feet. The gift-basket was a nice surprise, and Dr. Patzlaff shared, “My favorite thing in the basket is a sharpie so I can draw Cougar Paws on my race bib to take Clairbourn cheers with me on my race. When I hit mile 22 and feel tired, I can look down and see the paws to remind me that the Cougar Family is cheering me on all the way to the finish line at 26.2 miles.”

 

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This article was written by By DR. PATZLAFF and NANCY WARD and originally appeared on PasadenaNow.com



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