The Running Genie

Forget the run-of-the-mill post about current training or running goals; I want us to think BIG about running today.


I’m not just talking about any standard goal you have that you know is possible and plan on achieving one day. No, let’s dig deeper. Imagine that the running genie appeared out of nowhere and told you to name any goal you can think of and he will make it possible (within the limits of what is physically possible). Anything you want is possible, no matter what your current ability is (but you still have to put in the work, of course).

These areย the dreams that you don’t even tell people about because you’re sure they’ll just laugh in your face or force an awkward smile and say “ohhh, that’s nice..”

I’m talking things like “make the Olympic team” or “win 1st overall female in a bigย race.”

I thought today we could all take the opportunity to daydream a little bit, to push the limits of our imaginations and have a little fun. I will share two of mine and I hope to hear some of yours!

-from Billy Joel’s hit “Vienna” ย Photo:


1. Run a sub-20:00 5K
We have my blogger buddy Taylor @ SingleTrackedMind to thank for putting this one in my head. She once commented on a blog post of mine about running goals saying that she bets I’ll run a sub-20:00 5K one day. I honestly thought that was a typo, and when I asked if she meant sub-25:00, Taylor said “no! I really think you can run a sub-20:00!”

Now this is the part where I almost laugh. A sub-20:00? Me? I know some crazy fast woman runners and not one of them has even run a sub-20:00.

But then I thought: why not? Why can’t I believe in myself that I could do that one day?

Why is it that we talk ourselves down so much? Why are we so quick to dismiss ourselves, to reflexively assume “oh I can’t run that fast. I can only do [X]; I could NEVER run that far or get that race time.” Really? How do you know that?

I’m certainly not going to go out there tomorrow and start training for a 19 minute 5K. I don’t know when, or if, that will ever be an actual concrete goal of mine. But why couldn’t it be, if I really wanted it? I’m just so sick of assuming I can’t do something without even trying at least. It’s stupid.

2. Run a 3:12 marathon
My birthday is March 12, and I’ve kinda always been obsessed with the number “312” in all its forms. That’s why 3:12 is my reach for the stars marathon goal.

Okay, so I’d need at least a 7:21 pace and I can’t even run aย 5K that fast right now. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? There once was a day when I never dreamed I could hold a pace in the 9:00 range for more than a 5K, let alone a half marathon, and then I went out there and ran an 8:55 avg half marathon. One day I’ll be able to hold a 7:21 for 3 miles, and then maybe 5, and then 6.2…


The “hidden benefit” of letting ourselves dream like this, and never letting go of these “reach” goals no matter how impossible they seem now, is that it teaches us the real value of focusing on the process, not just the result. As great as this concept is, I still have trouble really understanding it. How do I make a goal and not focus on the result? Isn’t that kind of the point??

No one can really explain it better than Lauren Fleshman in the pages of the Believe journal:

“My 15-year-old goal of being an Olympian has not been achieved yet, despite several close calls, but I certainly am no worse off for chasing it.”

That’s it. That’s what it’s about. I don’t know if Taylor will ever end up being right, or if I can ever run a “birthday marathon.” But believing that those things are possible if I want them and work for them will lead me to so many other great things. If the best I can ever do in the 5K is 20:32, that’s still a damn awesome time for an adult woman, or anyone really, and better than I’d ever dream I was capable of.



What is YOUR reach-for-the-stars dream goal? I promise I won’t laugh!


17 thoughts on “The Running Genie

  1. Thank goodness my birthday is in April!!! Lol. I have a BIG dream goal of running a mile in a longer run that starts with a 6. Last year, the running club I belong to did a timed mile on the track and I did something like a 6:45–but it was just one and done. So I would like one of my mile splits on, say a 5 mile run to start with a 6. My minimal speedwork has been done lately at a 7:30 pace–I have a LOT of work to do!!

    1. That is one of my dreams, too! Of course it’s built into my sub-20 5K dream because that’s the pace I need, but I’ve always wondered if one day I’ll be able to get into the 6s, even if it’s just for a 5K or a tempo run here and there

    1. I hope so! Or at least not get injured when I have big goals, but when will I ever not have big goals? Not for a few years at least! So, for now, being as safe as I can and keeping those fingers crossed tight!

  2. I always tell folks what Meg said ๐Ÿ™‚ I always look to see after I run a race how old the oldest completer was and I think I want to be that person! When I ran my first half there was two 70 year old ladies who beat me in by 10 minutes ๐Ÿ™‚ Love it! I often day dream about a sub 2 half marathon but there’s no pace logic to back it up.
    I like your 3:12 marathon idea! my birthday 8:10 maybe I should just strive to one mile that fast.

    1. When I ran my first half, I got smoked by a really old guy AND a dude in a cow suit. There’s nothing like the feeling of huffing and puffing along and getting passed by A COW.

      I like the idea of turning a higher number bday into a mile time. I so think you could get an 8:10 mile!!

  3. My birthday is August 4th so I’ve already beat an 8:04 marathon! ๐Ÿ˜€ Maybe like Karen said I should strive to one day run an 8:04 minute mile. I can hold that now for about 10 seconds so I’ve got a little ways to go, hahaha!

    My big ridiculous wish for a running genie would be to run not just a 100-mile race but one that is super difficult like Hardrock or the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. None of those things are in the cards for me, but maybe someday I will run a marathon in the 4:XX range and that would be pretty cool too! I’d definitely ask the genie for that if I had two running wishes!

  4. I am SO stoked and honored that I helped inspire a goal! I know you can do sub-20 for the 5K. ๐Ÿ™‚ My birthday is March 13! Pisces power! (and I’m gonna go ahead and be realistic and say I will never run a 3:13 marathon, LOL).

    1. We really are birds of a feather….I think you’re only one letter away from me on the Myers Briggs too, and we run at about the same pace. WHOOOAAA.

      Pisces rule! I don’t know that I’ll ever run that 3:12, but I like to think I could if I really wanted it enough. Do you have a goal time in mind for Berlin yet?

      1. That’s right! We really are basically the same person. ๐Ÿ™‚ And you were born in ’87 too, right? Crazy!

        No real time goal yet – I want to run as close to 4 hours as I can. As long as I have a happy and mostly healthy training cycle and race, that’s all I could really ask for!

  5. I love your 3:12 goal!! I would want to finish one of those crazy 100 mile ultra marathons. I would feel like such a badass!

    1. It’s interesting how many people have chimed in about running ultras! A lot of people have that dream! I have no desire to run one. I may run a 50K one day but that’s as high as I’ll probably ever go!

  6. My impossible dream goal would either be a 1:45 half or an ultra marathon. Both of which will likely not happen- I haven’t even cracked 2:00 yet and have no desire to run a marathon but for some reason 30 miles on a trail sounds kind of fun. Great post!

    1. Nice! It’s really interesting to me how many people have commented with a dream of running an ultra marathon. I thought it would be mostly time goals but everyone is going the distance route. Intriguing!

      My reach goal for the end of this year is a 1:45. I’m going to wait and see how long it takes me to reach my primary goal of a 1:50 and then go from there. My half marathon dream is a 90 minute half marathon. There’s something about being able to say your half time in minutes rather than hours that just really makes me want that goal! I think if I worked really hard I could achieve it in my lifetime.

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