Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Setting Goals - Specifically Running Goals

Applicable to so many of my posts
It is that time of year - time to crank the "way-back" machine to 11 and pull the dipstick out of the oil can of life to see how the last 12 months treated us.  Was I a well oiled machine?  Or, did I billow blue and black smoke every time that I pushed the pedal?

Goal setting is interesting.  One quick search on Amazon and I am lead to believe that I am 2 maybe 3 goals away from world domination.  If I could only have a plan of action, THE WORLD IS MINE!!!! The reality is that it takes lots of stepping on others hard work and luck to get where you want to be.  Goals should be measureable, and focus on the process.  When you do that, the result will come.

Personally, when I set goals, I shoot HIGH.  My goal lists are a sandbag free zone. (Sandbagging = setting easily achievable goals)  I've just started my look back to 2011 goals post, but let me tell you - it is NOT pretty. I went zero for a billion of my running goals.  But, I don't necessarily call that a failure.  The reason?  Because I 100% believe that setting goals is incredibly mental and not hitting my goal isn't always a failure.

Just say no to sandbagging
(But, say YES!! to awesome Phoenix "winter")


The Boston Marathon recently changed their race criteria for entry.  That means that I no longer have to run a 3:10, I must now run a 3:05.  Before the change, time and time again I'd hear people say how they qualified with 10 seconds to spare.  Not 1 min, 45 seconds.  TEN SECONDS.  For years it always made me wonder - what if their goal was to run 5 minutes faster than the minimum required? Would they get 10 seconds under that?  It is with that in mind that I set my goals HIGH.

But, what about running goals for the non masochistic non Adam people around?  Setting the cloud in the sky goals are not the norm.  I think that is because most people are not "okay" if they don't hit the goal.  Shades of black and white vs the shade of fuschia in which I live my life.

One of my new favorite podcasts, Marathon Talk, broke down setting race goals into 5 great categories.  They put it in context of setting a good race pace, but I think that the same applies to how you train and set long-term goals.  On the podcast they said, and I agree, that setting a good, realistic goal is essential to not only being successful but FEELING successful in your running.  Their categories are as follows:

  • I just want to finish! As long as I move my arse over the miles, mission accomplished!
  • I want to have fun!  If I am sore at the end of this, I'm going to be PISSED!
  • I want to have fun and not do the walk of shame at mile 20, but I want to perform at my best.
  • I want to run as fast as I possibly can - it doesn't matter if I cramp up and run/walk the last 3 miles, if I set a PR, I'm golden!
  • I have a specific time goal - I don't care if I shit myself mid race, if I hit my time it will be a good run!


Knowing which category above you fall into will help you to set not only a realistic goal, but one that you can be happy with at the end.  If you have a goal to just finish, that might mean taking pictures with Disney characters along the way and having 100% no time goal involved.  Conversely, if you want to run as fast as you possibly can, you might set a goal to run even splits, try to run 2-3 minutes faster than you think you can, and accept some slight fade towards the end.

But, most importantly, not setting goals is the #1 way to not achieving any.  So, what are you waiting for?!


What kind of goal setter are you?  Make them soft so that you can fist pump all the way to the finish?  Make them hard so that you have to see a unicorn orgasmic to achieve them?


24 comments:

Lisa said...

Interesting! I hadn't thought of goal setting in that way. As a new runner, my goal for Hood to Coast was to just not walk. I didn't want to walk any of my Legs. By my last Leg I was slow and in pain but I still ran. I was happy with that.

quix said...

Each race is different. The last half marathon I did was just as a hilly training run, and I was in some pain, so my goal was just to enjoy it and finish without getting more injured. My A race this year, my sprint tri in October, I had very specific time goals.

I agree about not meeting your goals may not be a fail. As the quote says (and I badly paraphrase), "shoot for the moon - if you miss, you'll still end up among the stars".

Kim said...

Do I really need to tell you this?? I fall somewhere in the area of I want to have fun AND not be last. Not be last is my number one goal. Have fun is my number two goal. Have a car that starts post-race would be great, not lose a glove, trip over my dog, or do anything embarrassing are all a close third. Fourth, which really should be higher I suppose, is not to puke.

Pavement Runner said...

I'm aiming for breaking 4:20 for a full Marathon in March... I've been aiming to get into the low 4 hour range for a couple years and this is the year it happens. Keep setting those high goals... it's the only way to roll!

Laura is Undeterrable said...

I think it depends on your personality. I am so hard on myself that if I set only really difficult goals and didn't achieve them, I would completely feel like a failure. I tend to set many goals, some big/hairy/crazy ones and some that only require doing. The easier goals help me build confidence and get to me the big ones.

abbi said...

I tend to set goals that are achievable but still require work. Now, those are the ones I let others in on...there are lots more just swirling around in my mind that are far-fetched but I still work towards them!

pensive said...

For me, it all depends on my level of comfort with whatever we're talking about. My running goal is to finish unassisted under the time limit. Pretty basic. But I've never done it before, so it is a PR no matter what.

In other areas, I ratchet up the goal setting really quickly. If I succeed even a little at anything, then suddenly I want to be the absolute best at it. Thus, if I finish this once I will clearly spend the next day on ancestry.com trying to prove to myself that I am really Kenyan. *sigh*

Also, look at your sidebar man: you have PRs in both the Half and the Full this year. I'd say you did just fine. I'll pat you on the back, even if you won't.

Cynthia O'H said...

This post hit home with me as I'm looking at goals from many different perspectives today. Over the past few months, some races have been about time, some about finishing and some about having fun. I was lucky with a few where I had fun and great times.
You always deserve a pat on the back no matter which goal you were aiming for.

Cynthia O'H said...

This post hit home with me as I'm looking at goals from many different perspectives today. Over the past few months, some races have been about time, some about finishing and some about having fun. I was lucky with a few where I had fun and great times.
You always deserve a pat on the back no matter which goal you were aiming for.

TriMOEngr said...

Being new, I tend to fall into the first category, but I want to ratchet them up over time to be less desperate to not be last and more to better myself.

JFord said...

I am a horrible goal setter when it comes to time goals. I do not htink I hit a single time goal this year now that I think about it. Wow, I just got really depressed...maybe I should just give up running...Thanks, great post! :)

Christine said...

Maybe somewhere in between. And they often change mid-race.... usually for the worse.

Jamoosh said...

Oh look - you bought some sand for the neighborhood cat to pee in! That's why I like you - always thinking of others!

Michael said...

I'd like to think I'm somewhere in between (although I like the paper goal list at the bottom...clever). In my goal setting, I like to consider where I'd like to end up, then plan out what I believe to be realistic goals along that path.

We'll see how this year goes, but I do have high hopes and expectations for it !!!

Shawn said...

1st goal is the most important....that's why its 1st...right?

Have a great year Adam!

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

I am totally for watching a unicorn rub one off!

Joyce Adams said...

Most importantly, are you signed up for Jantastic? I'm feeling the need for another rival...

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

I set goals, but I'm so out of touch with my fitness I can never tell if they are easy or not, LOL. My thing about goals is I don't like to sugar coat the results. If you failed, you failed - you didn't "achieve your B goal". If I gave myself that kind of pass I'd never improve!

Nelly said...

Great post! Those 5 categories of goals are all interesting. I generally fall into the "I want to run as fast as I possibly can" category for every race that I do. I just don't feel right if I don't do this. (Unless I'm injured of course). Then to me the time doesn't matter as much because I gave it everything I had during the race. Though generally in races I get exactly what I thought I deserve.

Then after the race is over I analyze it and see what I can do to improve it. Generally for almost every race in my life I've achieved exactly what I thought I was capable of (with really only 1 exception of a high school cross country race that I completely bonked and had the worst race of my life at).

So I don't like having pie in the sky type goals because I might never achieve those goals.

bakerunlive.com said...

As far as racing goals, I usually have 3. #1 is a PR time, #2 is a finish time I would be happy with, #3 is to finish and have fun.

Glenn Jones said...

Love the to do list! I think I'll adopt that one for myself tomorrow.

Alma said...

Bring the wet wipes because I'm going to make a mess of myself if I have to! Specific time or bust (sadly, this year was a bust but I'll be Back - Swarzy style).

C2Iowa said...

This was a very interesting post. I have been crunching my numbers for this yr. Though I had to take off the first 4 mos due to surgery and then attempt a come-back (turned out bad for me); I expected better numbers for myself. Your post has pushed me to finish crunching numbers - post goals - and get moving forward. Thanks

btw - I fall somewhere between filling my pants and purging my guts in the last few miles to hit my goal.

Mark said...

So is there going to be any other goal for 2012 aside from BQing?

My future is too cloudy to set goals right now, so I'm going to wade into the unknown. I guess my only real goal right now is to get 100% healthy again.