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Resolving to focus on the process, not race results

By Henry Howard

As I was warming up on the stationary bike before my first run of the new year, I contemplated a question on a Facebook post I had just seen: What are your running goals for 2023?

Earlier in my running journey, I would have focused my answers on results, rather than the process or the journey. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon. PRing in a certain race distance. Running a new race distance.

Now, my goals focus on the process rather than race results.

Certainly all of the aforementioned quantifiable goals are awesome achievements. But for me it’s the process within the journey to those accomplishments that has the most meaning. Those goals are achieved by following several guidelines I regularly espouse: keep showing up, dream big and enjoy the journey.

By following those ideals I have been able to grow as a runner, and accomplished various achievements. But most important is how the journey has helped reshape me as a runner, running coach and human.

It should not come as a surprise to those who know me well that my primary goal for the new year revolves around my coaching. In order, these are my answers to the Facebook post that started me on this contemplation of the year ahead:

1. Guide my amazing athletes to achieve their goals.

2. Stay healthy.

3. Have fun.

4. Get Western States qualifier number four.

And, yes, my fourth goal does relate to a race result of sorts. But finishing a race and acquiring a qualifier for my bucket-list race fits into my overall journey and motivation for the sport. And, I would argue, it is less about a specific result than say, finishing on the podium, completing a 100-miler in under 20 hours or running a 200-mile race or other outcomes.

This year's Western States qualifier

This year, my qualifier for the Western States lottery will be Burning River. The 100-mile race is in Ohio in July.

I chose that race for a number of reasons. One is that I wanted to challenge myself with something I had never done before: run a 100 in the heat of summer. Another was that it aligned well with various logistical factors. And I also wanted to do a course that had more ups and downs that several of my previous races which were flat and fast.

But most of all I chose it so that I could give back, an important part of my process as a runner.

As part of my participation in Burning River, I am raising funds for the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Summit Metro Parks Foundation. It’s a pleasure to support the trails system and protect nature so that others may enjoy it, too.

I’d be honored if you would help support my journey and help the trail system. Please consider a donation at this link.


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