Dream Big … And Stop Being Embarrassed About It

Here’s our limit if only we weren’t embarrassed about ackowledging it (Photo credit: Honou)

Like any good type-A runner I’ve been pondering my running goals lately. Now that I’m done having babies I can finally devote more than one or two training cycles to going after my PRs. It’s exciting! But when I think about what my ultimate time goals are, I want to follow my own advice and dream REALLY big and really push myself and GO for something. Something big, like an OTQ. But after I say I want to go for an OTQ I say things like this:

– even though everyone wants to go for an OTQ.

– even though now that I’m a mother of three I might not have the time and energy I need to do it.

– if I am physically capable of running that fast.

– if I’m actually a marathoner, which I suspect I might not be considering I haven’t managed a PR since 2007.

Are you like me? Do you qualify your goals with (let’s face it) excuses? Are you in actuality a little embarrassed to articulate your big dreams? Newsflash: it’s time we drop those excuses, stop with the embarrassment and be proud of our ambition!

For some reason, we women often have a hard time being ballsy. I for one find myself often worried what other people think of me even though I know that’s ridiculous to worry about. Whether it’s nature or nurture, it’s engrained in me. Will “they” think I’m dumb if I tell them I want to go for the OTQ?  What if I fail?  Will “they” all say “told you so!” and laugh at me behind my back?  What if I change my mind?  Will “they” think I just crumpled under the pressure of imminent failure?  What if I really CAN’T commit because of the kids or my health or family obligations or going back to work or … You get the picture.

Because of this fear of judgment some of us never even make lofty goals and seemingly remain content in our mediocrity when we really might not be. Others, like me, might seem ambitious, but because we fear that judgment we’re always qualifying those big goals.

The problem with qualifying these goal statements, as this post on No Meat Athlete so artfully explains, is that it gives us an out to not achieve our goals. When I qualify my goals I feel like I’m buffering myself from the disappointment of not meeting the goal and acknowledging all the judgment I feel others might pass on me for making the goal in the first place. But as the NMA post explains, the qualification actually make it really easy to not achieve the goal – it sets me and others like me up for failure.

Now that I know this, I can’t help but wonder if all those disappointing marathons weren’t some self-fulfilling prophesy that resulted from me qualifying my goals for those races. Who knows. What I do know is that it’s time to stop giving myself that out.

In our new year’s resolution post, I stated that my resolution is to become more fearless about my running, and being able to fearlessly articulate my goals is the first step. To become the fearless runner I want to be I need to articulate my lofty goals without giving myself an out to not achieve them and without embarrassment and worrying what other people will say about me for claiming these goals as mine.

*Deep Breath*

So my long term goal for running is to OTQ.

And that’s all I have to say about it.


What is your running goal? Do you ever hear yourself qualifying your goals?

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. My goal is to qualify for Kona! I have a long way to go and sometimes I think it’s a waste of energy, but visualizing it helps get me through those long workouts. Hey, a gal’s gotta dream, right! Thanks for the post!

    1. That’s a great goal! How do you feel about telling other people? Do you qualify it and feel the need to explain it or feel embarrassed about others thinking you’re biting off more than you can chew?

  2. This has topic has been an ongoing thread of discussion with my group of sole sisters. I have no greater ambitions than what I know that I am physically capable of performing. I would love to break 3:30 on the marathon, I would love to break 1:34 in the half, and I would love to go sub 20 in the 5K. I think these are realistic for me and the amount of time I can dedicate to my training.

    I have to be honest with you though. I cannot fully agree with “mother runners” who want to go for the OTQ, or other greater goals that are somewhat “elite” in my mind. I speak from personal experience in terms of the time I have to dedicate to my running goals and my goals are no where near being termed “elite”. I think that when you speak of training for an OTQ, you are talking double workouts and logging at least 100 miles a week. Something will be sacrificed. Whether it be your health, your family, or your sanity. I know there are elite mother runner’s out there (Kara Goucher for example) who balance life’s responsibilities well. But, training is her full time job.

    I am not against this goal of your’s or other’s for that matter. I completely agree that it is very important to have personal goals, desires, and passions. I think in the bigger picture, if you, or someone else is going to go for the OTQ (and is a mother), your significant other must be on board. My husband is supportive, to an extent. He believes in my passion of running. However, I do know that he does not appreciate me being gone for three or four hours on Saturday or Sunday during my long runs or on a school night for two hours if I am at the track or running hill repeats.

    I think as a collective group of runners, mother runners, etc., it is very important to support one another. I think you can be ballsy and dream big. But, you also have to take into consideration how it will affect your family and if your hubby will be on board.

    1. Here’s the way I see it. I could throw my hands up and give up everything because I’m a mother or drastically sandbag myself because I’m a mother. Or I can make goals and then do what I can do to achieve them. When I say do what I can do I mean, do what I can do within my physical, mental, financial and time limitations. This was always true for me whether a mother or not. The only difference now is that I have even less time and less flexibility with that time, so I need to get it all in when I can or miss the opportunity to run that day. When some of my friends going for an OTQ have time to drive where ever they want to run, I have to run from home. When they can go out to dinner after the track, I have to run home and relieve the sitter and put the kids to bed. When they can head out at 8:30 for a long run, I have to be home by 8:30. Motherhood comes with a lot of juggling, and running is just one more ball in the mix. I think it helps that I don’t see it taking herculean efforts to achieve, at least off the race course. I am going to train as physically and mentally hard as I can, aim high and see what happens. I’d do that no matter what my goal is.

      1. I am a goal driven person. That is what fuels my desires and passions in life. I agree with you and as a friend support you:). I know you have what it takes physically and mentally to get there. You are one of my running idols because of this. I just know that juggling 3+ kids, working full time, and maintaining my training is hard. Really hard. I have been in some of the same situations as you. I hate skipping out of my morning coffee/bonding time with my girlfriends because I have to jet home. However, I have learned that it isn’t fair to my husband either for me to be gone almost half a weekend day. I think you should train as hard as your body and mind lends itself. I know you will and I know you will see some pretty spectacular results. Just be realistic with your time constraints. Like me, you wear many hats. I have just learned over the course of the past two years that my mommy hat is the most important. Whenever I hit a PR, I could cry rainbows I am so freaking excited. Mostly, because it took a lot of sacrifice to get there. But, my kids are starting to get into activities where it is more important for them to shine than me.
        PS….I still support you sister and have faith in your talents:).

        1. Thanks so much for giving me lots to think about. I think you gave me about 5 post ideas in your comments 🙂 Of course, I cherish our friendship and am so thankful for your support. Likewise, I know you’re going to rock that 2013 Boston Marathon!

  3. Great post. I love your goal and am looking forward to watching you go after it!

    I am totally with Michelle though too. Goals should be lofty – but also realistic (taking into account skill, genetics, time, outside commitments). Unlike you, I know that I could never reach an olympic qualifying time. Even if I stopped working and devoted all of my time to training, I don’t think I could ever even go under 3:15. I have trained and raced long enough to know my general parameters – both in my own abilities and the time I am able to commit without hurting my family time or career time. While it is easy for a new runner to make huge leaps and bounds, I am past that stage in my life and hey – I’m not getting any younger.

    That said, I have set some very lofty (yet hopefully attainable) goals for myself as well. I am breaking free from marathon training this spring to do speedy stuff. I’ve never trained for a 10k or a half, so this year I am going to do that and hopefully see some nice PRs in the process. I will also be turning 40 this summer and am hoping to run a 3:20 marathon in the Fall (3+ minute PR). It will be my first marathon as a masters runner and I hope to seriously knock one out of the park.

    1. Thanks Mindi! Knock it out of the park, you shall! I have never trained more than 21 consecutive months so I’m so excited to see what I can do in about 34!

      PS I can’t believe we’re knocking on the masters running door. We’re getting old! 🙂

  4. I struggle with the same thing. It’s so scary to have big dreams because there’s always that chance of failure and what will people think of you if you fail. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to how to overcome this because it’s so ingrained in us, especially as women. I think verbalizing it actually helps because you feel more accountable, maybe?

      1. That’s what I struggle with too! I can’t let go of what other people will say or think or how they react when I tell them what my ultimate goal is.But really, it’s not their business anyway!

        1. Not only is it not their business, but often naysayers have underlying issues about their ambitions that they project onto others in the form of judgment. If you’re happy with your goal – end of story! (although, again, way easier said then done!)

  5. You definitely have the talent to do it. It’s going to be exciting to see how your training evolves now that you can train consistently for a couple years (pending no oopsies, right ;)! ). I think Michelle makes a valid point. It’s a case of “can women have it all?” I certainly believe we can if we have support and balance but at the same time, it still is a struggle because how much is too much before it hurts our wellbeing or the wellbeing of others? However, you definitely have the advantage in that you’ve put in solid training before and you have a supportive family. Not to mention a coach who has trained some of his athletes to already qualify!

    1. You hush about those oopsies now! Ha!

      Two of the running authorities I most trust believe in me (hubby and coach) so I really do think it’s possible. I have a lot of work to do, of course! But f it – I’m going for it!

      That being said, I am not going to steamroll over everything in my path to do it. Just like all people, mothers or not, I have a lot of other things I need to do and balance along the way. So whatever I do in my attempt to achieve this goal, I will need to properly prioritize my time and balance the rest of my life with running.

      1. I definitely think you can do that (prioritize and balance) and I liked your response to Michelle because it had a lot of fearlessness behind it, which is your resolution, right? I am so excited to cheer all you CED people on this season and the coming years! And I can’t wait to see you finally this weekend!

  6. Go for it!

    “Friends are kind to each other’s hopes. They cherish each other’s dreams.”
    -Henry David Thoreau