As I know it was for many, 2017 was a trying year for me. I don’t want this to be about how messed up the country/world is, but let’s just say that the national news has been a constant source of anxiety since, oh, January 20.
Knowing what was likely ahead, I set out to make this year one in which I took care of myself. Besides donating what little I can to causes that mean something to me, I knew that my most powerful tool of resistance would simply be in preventing myself from breaking down. For me, that means keeping my body and mind healthy.
I no longer make New Year’s “resolutions.” Those typically result in vague declarations for the coming year like, “I’m going to get in shape,” or “I’m going to eat healthier.” Perhaps those work for some people (though I doubt it does for many), but I’ve found when I set goals with specific desired outcomes, I’m much more successful. So, in 2017, I got to planning and I set goals for myself. I was ambitious. There was a lot to achieve this year, and while I didn’t necessarily meet every goal, I believe I fulfilled the spirit of them all in some way or another.
My 2017 Goals
- Run a half marathon
- Read 50 books
- Complete Whole30
- Write more (OK, I admit this was rather vague)
Complete a half marathon
I set this goal at the beginning of the year without really knowing how I would get it done. Working in college sports tends to prevent me from taking entire weekends to travel or train for races — especially in the fall or spring when I would prefer to run a long-distance race for weather reasons — but when some of my responsibilities changed and freed up my fall, it became a lot simpler to set and go after this goal.
The Chicago Half Marathon was an easy choice. It’s in a familiar city with a spectacular course running up and down Lakeshore Drive, plus it’s just a two-hour drive from home. Once I decided to run the race, I had exactly 16 weeks to train, which melded with the training plan I wanted to use. It all seemed to come together.
Everything went really well until about the 12-week mark. That’s when my knee started to give me trouble. Still, I’d hit 11 miles on my most recent long run, so I figured I would still be OK come race day even if I scaled things back.
Then came the 14-week mark, when I sprained my ankle. I’d like to say that was a running injury, but it was just me being graceful. I got myself to physical therapy — thank god for health reimbursement accounts! — and luckily got my ankle strong enough for race day.
That didn’t make it easy, though. September 24 was a very hot, steamy day in Chicago — weather I don’t like even when I’m not running 13.1 miles. It had rarely gotten that hot or humid all summer, so I was really not used to it at all. At mile 7, my knee began to hurt. By mile 8, it had worked its way up to my hip. I ended up walking most of the last four miles.
Needless to say, I was rather disappointed by the end of it. BUT — I COMPLETED THE RACE. It was my first half marathon, and though it didn’t go exactly as I’d planned, I still did it. I learned what worked — salted caramel Gu, my Under Armour Charged Bandits, my fuel belt — and what didn’t — that 16-week plan was too long and set me up for overuse/burnout. Next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll use a 12-week training plan and focus on strength in my hips and glutes. I’m not sure if it will happen in 2018, but I will be prepared when I’m ready to tackle it again.
Read 50 books
This was a goal I’d set after finding myself simply not reading as much as I wanted to. I read maybe a handful of books in 2016, so 50 books (nearly one a week) in 2017 would be a bit of a challenge.
I started off strong. I’d read 16 books by the end of April, right on track to hit my goal. I was at 23 by the end of June; still not bad. Sometime after that, though, I hit a lull. There was a good month from mid-June to mid-July when I didn’t read at all. I made some of that up by reading another three during a week on my summer vacation, but never quite recovered.
By the end of today (because I will finish “Little Fires Everywhere” by the time the clock strikes midnight!), I will have read 35 books in total, 15 short of my goal. I still count it as a win, though. That’s a lot of books to read in a year! I’m going to tackle this goal again in 2018, if nothing else to keep up my incentive to put down the phone and read all the books that are still on my “To-Read” list. I’ve barely made a dent.
Top 10 Books of the Year (no particular order): Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Heartburn, Americanah, When in French: Love in a Second Language, Big Magic, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Commonwealth, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Nightingale, Homegoing
Wrote about it here. I actually really enjoyed it, but I didn’t get to do the reintroduction phase as I wanted to. I want to do another round this next year and I’m looking at February or March to possibly give it another go.
Yes, my one vague goal. Probably why I wasn’t as consistent in hitting this goal as I was with the others. My writing in 2017 really manifested itself on this blog, and I haven’t really been active here since August. I’ll look at ways to make this a more concrete, specific goal in the coming year.
All in all, I believe 2017 was one of my most productive years yet. I was active and fairly physically healthy. I took care of my mind by reading and writing, actively managing my anxiety (only one panic attack this year!) and generally practicing self care. I began taking an active approach to my career and look forward to progressing in that area in 2018 as well.
I’m going to take the next couple of days to set about planning what my 2018 is going to look like. I definitely want to carry the momentum from 2017’s successes into the new year, but also tackle some new challenges as well. I’d like to add some financial and travel goals in the coming year, so the next step will be figuring out what those might be.
I know 2017 was tough, but I hope you made it a good one for you. Though nothing replaces action, sometimes the best way to take care of others is to take care of yourself. May 2018 be a kind one.