This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of The North Face Endurance Challenge.

It’s no secret: I have an enormous passion for goal setting. A vision boarding nerd, a Pinterest quote junkie, and a bucket list maker, I love the feeling of accomplishing a big goal and just as much as the thrill of the chase that comes with getting there. Heck, I love it so much I created a guide all about this very topic. Chances are if you’ve ever set goals, you’ve come across a framework that looks something like this:

SMART goals - Eat Spin Run Repeat

There are a few variations for some of the letters, but above is the version I like to use. While each of the 5 characteristics is important, I think that sometimes we limit our potential with the R – realistic. The idea behind making realistic goals is that they should be big enough to challenge you, but not so enormous that they’re completely out of reach. Of course, a goal that seems a million miles away isn’t going to be as motivating as a quick win, but I think that once in a while, it’s good to set the bar high – really high, so that it scares you and makes your stomach flip-flop a bit.

(Source)

(Source)

Very recently, I decided to commit to a new challenge that definitely falls in the scary bucket. A few weeks ago I posted my race calendar for 2014. As of last week, there’s a new addition to the lineup:

  • April 13 – Yonge St 10K – Toronto, ON
  • April 26 – Endurrace – 8K – Waterloo, ON
  • May 12 – Baden Road Race – 7mi – Baden, ON
  • June 1 – Niagara Women’s Half Marathon – Niagara Falls, ON
  • June 15 – Waterloo 10K Classic – Waterloo, ON
  • June 22 – Subaru Guelph Lake Sprint Duathlon – 2K run/10K bike/5K run – Guelph, ON
  • July 13 – The North Face Endurance Challenge – Half Marathon (Trail) – Blue Mountain, ON 
  • July 6 – Dirty Dash – 8K – Waterloo, ON
  • August 23 – Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon – Vancouver, BC
  • Sept 28 – Laurier Loop – 10K – Waterloo, ON
  • October 19 – Scotiabank Toronto Half Marathon – Toronto, ON

The North Face Endurance Challenge. It takes place in Blue Mountain, and as the name suggests, the elevation is a heck of a lot greater than any of the hills I train on near home. And as if those hills weren’t enough, the race is on a trail, not a road. Have I raced on trails before? Nope! So, what the heck was I thinking?

(Source)

(Source)

You see, sometimes I’m good at tackling challenging or uncomfortable situations head-on. But other times, I suck at it. For example, if it looks like it’s going to rain when I get up in the morning, I’m quick to decide that my run will be done on the treadmill rather than outside. This has been my usual for the last couple of years, and I know that in order to make progress and become a stronger runner, I need to suck it up, get out there, and, as cliche as it sounds, push out of my comfort zone. Put another way, I want to be a bit more gritty. The half marathon is my favourite distance and one I’ve run many times, but I want to challenge myself more, and I have no doubt the hills and trails will do that!

Grit

Here’s where The North Face Endurance Challenge comes in. The scoop on the event is this:

  • It’s a premiere trail race series, and there are 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon relay, marathon, 50k, and 50 mile races, as well as a kids race. Really, no matter what your ability level, there’s a distance for you.
  • It’s happening in various locations across North America this year – Ontario (the only race in Canada), New York, Washington, Utah, and California. Dates are all posted here.
  • The Ontario Endurance Challenge is July 12-13. It’s got some pretty sweet events on the agenda, including a meet and greet with ultramarathoner and The North Face athlete Dean Karnazes, a Finish Line Festival, raffle prizes, and of course, gorgeous scenery.

So why am I telling you all of this? It’s because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about working towards athletic goals, it’s that it’s a whole lot more fun when you have friends to train and celebrate along with you!

pre-yonge st 10k with racing buddies

If you live in Ontario and are up for running any of the distances, whether it’s the 5K or the full 50 miler, I’d LOVE to have you join me this summer! As a bonus, you can get 10% off your entry fee by using a special code for Eat Spin Run Repeat readers, D30ASON. Note that this code only applies to the Ontario race.

The North Face Endurance Challenge Ontario

Speaking of racing with friends, if you register and want to connect with others competing, check out The North Face Endurance Challenge on Twitter and Facebook. There’s also a community on Strava that has been set up specifically for the Ontario race, so you can log your training (as I have been doing) and get to know other people before meeting on the race weekend.

This may be the hilliest, hardest half marathon I’ve ever run. I could have totally just signed up for the 5 or 10K. But I’m using this event as an opportunity to push myself, to see what my body can do, and to experience trail running. I might love it. I might hate it. But you never know unless you try.

dream big - you have nothing to lose but fear - eat spin run repeat

So tell me…

  • Are you currently working towards a goal that scares you? 
  • Trail runners: Any tips? I may be an experienced road runner but I’m a total newbie to the trails!

Lastly, if you haven’t entered my 4th blogiversary giveaway, make sure you get in on it before Tuesday at midnight EST! I’ve added an Instagram option so check out the post for details. 🙂