You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The Stones were right.

On the surface of things, it may seem that 2013 pretty much went my way. But in truth, I struggled to accept that I wasn’t always going to get what I wanted, no matter how hard I tried, or how much I wanted it.

I struggled to get to Boston uninjured, after my torn calf escapade at the end of 2012. A relapse in February had me reeling from my own stupidity – I decided to race in a team relay after a 13-mile run, because I wanted to. I didn’t need to run the relay and it certainly had no benefit for me physically. I just wanted to win. And my team did. But I paid the price.

I managed to rehab and get through Boston, but my unprepared body fought me the entire way. After some time off I did have a series of successful races, with a 3 minute PR in the Half Marathon, followed by a 40 minute PR in the Half Ironman, and a series of successful sprint triathlons. It seemed, for a while, that I could get what I wanted.

And of course the icing on the cake was qualifying to compete on Team USA at the 2014 ITU World Championships in Edmonton.

USAT swim bag

At least I get to tote this to the pool…


There’s always a price to pay. And when I pulled out of Marine Corps Marathon last week, finally admitting that I just couldn’t push my body to do the training I need it to, I realized that I can’t always get what I want. That in many ways I’m holding on too tight to this goal and have to let it go. That I don’t want to be injured repeatedly because I push too hard, want too much. There has to be a middle ground.

I’m often asked if I’m a runner or a triathlete. Both, I answer. And of course I want to run marathons and 5Ks and race half ironmans and sprints. But the result is that I do some of these well and others not so well. And I want to do everything well. The reality is that something has to give.

This year I requalified for Boston, qualified for the Ironman World Championships, and qualified for the ITU World Championships.

I’m only racing one of those events next year. Because I’ve finally come to the realization that, while I can’t always get what I want, by letting go of some of my goals, I just might find I get what I need.

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need




  1. Love this! You’ve definitely had your ups and downs. It’s hard sometimes to pick and choose and come to the realization that sometimes we can’t do everything, at least not as well as we’d like. Your decisions sound very wise to me. All the best going forward!
    Marcia recently posted..I Got a Little TrainerlyMy Profile

  2. You are singing my tune right now. I am playing with fire with my achilles, I know, and debating what to do….you are making a wise choice here. I’ve found that the older I get, the less racing I can do and stay healthy. Good luck with your choices!
    misszippy1 recently posted..All Baltimore Running Festival/All the TimeMy Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Not you, too! Yes, I think racing less is key…which is hard because there are so many good races in our area!

  3. I have found that when I was young it was easy to get what I wanted, multiple goals, races, men. Ahhh, to be a slut again.. jk. There is a struggle to being committed to one race, but with that sacrifice, focus and energy into one single event, the results can be huge. It takes a very mature and wise person to do what you’re doing. I admire you so much Alison. xoxo
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..12 Reasons Why We RunMy Profile

  4. WOW. I feel like I could have written that…you got RIGHT INSIDE MY HEAD! I realized last year that I can’t do more than one marathon a year. It’s too hard on my body. This year I figured one marathon, a bunch of short distance triathlons (I did 7 which was 2 too many IMO) and a half marathon, which is next weekend. Knock on wood but I got through this season in one piece. There were some issues mid summer with my knees again but i backed things off and got some A.R.T work done and I was fine. After this half, I’m going to be content to chill out for a while. I love to race but I think next year I’m going to have to pick and choose a bit more carefully, much like you have. I think you’ve totally made the right call. Save yourself for your big goal next year! 😀
    Phaedra @ Blisters and Black Toenails recently posted..A Picture is Worth 1000 Words: Why I Love InstagramMy Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Thanks, Phaedra! So funny you say I got inside your head because I debated even writing about this, wondering if anyone would even find it interesting! Seems that I touched a nerve and that many of us feel the same way. I wonder if it’s an athlete thing – the thing that drives us to compete and push hard is the same thing that makes us want it all! Anyway, good luck with the half marathon and the post-season chill! I have a couple of shorter races and then I am going to totally relax and over-indulge on a Thanksgiving cruise!

  5. I’m a total newbie to the tris but I realized that I have to be strategic about what I sign up for next year. I was all over the place at first – maybe I should do another marathon! Maybe I’ll sign up for a half ironman! Maybe I’ll do a couple sprints only! Sheesh, I just need to plan and focus and try to do well at SOMETHING so thanks for your post!
    Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?! recently posted..A Venture Into Whole 30 – Why Not?My Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge