Your goal: reaching for the stars?

“Smart goals are specific, measurable, realistic, written out, and should have a deadline or time frame.”  David Yukelson, sports psychologist

“Motivation has to come from within.  I make up my mind to shoot for the moon.  Even if i don’t make it, I’ll be among the stars.”  Francie Larrieu Smith, five-time Olympic runner

“Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive.” -Robert Schuller

I am a very goal oriented person and coach.  I think goals are crucial to our success as runners.  It’s human nature to be motivated by goals.  Without a goal, i find that i am a little more “slack” about my training but with a goal, i am motivated, challenged, and excited.

I can easily come up with a goal for every runner based on a mile test or past race.  From this goal, we are then able to determine training paces and strategies.  This is typically a pretty accurate goal.  Now, from this goal, some people want to tweak it a little to challenge themselves a little harder.  Obviously i know that if i give someone a goal of 2:01, they’re probably going to want to get to a 1:59 instead.  I love this.  I think this is great.

What i don’t like is when people sell themselves short because they’re afraid of “failing.”  As long as you are getting off your couch and giving it a shot, you are NEVER failing!  If all goals were easy to attain, they wouldn’t be goals.  A goal should challenge and push you.  An “appropriate” goal will take you outside of your comfort zone, not coddle you.

Goals can be reevaluated throughout a training season but rarely do i see the need for a drastic change to someone’s goal on race day.  If i know that i can do a 2:30 half marathon, i would never set my goal at 2:30.  That’s not a goal.  That’s selling myself short.  If i do a mile test or look at an old race and come up with a goal of 2:10, knowing it would be tough, i would welcome the challenge.

This is why i always suggest having an A goal and a B goal.  Your A goal should be one that you would be over the moon about but one that you think you have a good chance of achieving if all the stars are properly aligned on race day.  Your B goal should be a step down from that but still one that’s a challenge to meet….one that you’ll still have to work hard for but maybe when all the stars aren’t aligned!

Rarely have i met one of my goals.  If you are able to meet every single goal you set for yourself, you just might be setting them a little too easy for your ability.  I’ve gotten so close, though, that i know these were the right goals for me at the time.  Many years ago, i had a goal of 2:20 in a Half Marathon and i ran across the finish line in 2:24.  I allowed myself about 60 seconds of “mourning” and moved on.  I know that had i not had the goal of 2:20, I would have come in much later than a 2:24.  It was my goal that pushed me and carried me through the tough parts.  A couple of years ago, i wanted a 2:10….it was a 2:14 finish.  I don’t consider myself failing because i didn’t reach these goals.  I look at these as a jumping off point for my training season and when i get my A goal, that’s just the icing on the cake!

The purpose of a goal is the challenge.  The most important thing is to know that if you don’t meet your goal, you have not failed!  You simply didn’t meet your goal this time.  That’s the addictive part about running…there’s always next time!  So, when looking at your goal for St. Jude, don’t base it on your current training runs.  That’s just simply not how it works.  Your training runs are based on your goals, not the other way around.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside your comfort zone and allow yourself the opportunity to reach for the stars!


4 thoughts on “Your goal: reaching for the stars?

  1. I will readily admit that I, being a very goal-oriented person, am having a difficult time embracing this concept. When I attended Christian Brothers University, I began with a very specific goal in mind: to graduate Magna Cum Laude. It wasn’t an unattainable goal by any stretch of the imagination. I certainly had (have) the ability. I fell short of that goal by a 0.03 margin in my final grade point average–a negligible difference that I should have immediately overlooked. However, it remains stuck in my craw that I could have done this or that differently and achieved my ultimate goal; never mind that I *did* graduate with honors from a pretty difficult university.

    It has taken some self-searching and some verbal butt kicking (thanks to a coach putting things into perspective–haha) to realize that I can still feel like a winner and feel successful whether I meet the goal I have set for myself or not. Not everyone *finishes* college, much less does so with honors–after all I *did* graduate Cum Laude. I would dare say that a much smaller percentage of the population has ever completed, or even undertaken, a marathon. So, yes, I do have an, “A-Goal,” but as for my, “B-Goal,” well, let’s just say that getting out there and trying my darndest to finish that which very few others have achieved will suffice for now. Good luck everyone! Can’t wait to see y’all at the finish line!

  2. thanks, Trey, for the comment. you know what a type A personality i am which is why i totally understand the feeling of “failure” when i don’t reach my A goal, HOWEVER, i have also learned that if i set my goal too easy, that’s a little like cheating. this is why when i don’t meet my A goal, i do allow myself a little bit of “mourning time” ….but only a little and then i move on!
    the only failures are those who don’t try!

  3. There is nothing wrong with a time goal. Most people are coy about their goal because they don’t want others to know if they don’t “hit” that goal. I will tell you that in all of my years of running and triathlons I have “hit” less than 10% of my actual time goals. I don’t think this makes me a failure. Several of those missed goals have still resulted in my best time ever. I have been very thoughtful in creating these goals based on my current ability along with a perceived effort that will challenge those current abilities.

    There is definitely a difference in RUNNING a race and RACING a race. Wtih that being said, you can’t expect people to believe you are not concerned with your time when you are constantly talking about your time & pace after every training run. (Can’t have your cake and eat it too) Your time is YOUR TIME so it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it. Put it out there into the universe and then go do your best. Isn’t that really what this is all about??? Doing your best and bettering yourself.

    Star and I do not ask about goals and times to create pressure for faster runners. We do it because most people came to Star Runners to better themselves as a runner. I think you can all say without a doubt that you have done that but we also know that fear is a great limiter. All I ask is that you DO NOT let fear of missing a goal prevent you from actually setting one…one that will better YOU.

  4. I loved this blog entry. I feel goals are extremely important , though I tend to not be a goal oriented person. (No comments from the peanut gallery). This entry/comments reminded me of when I quit smoking. The many times before I tried to quit- I didn’t tell anyone. A) I didn’t want anyone to know if I failed to meet that goal and B) I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Looking back this meant to me that I wasn’t ready! I was doing it for other people’s expectations. This time the quitting worked. Why? Because I told EVERYONE!! I did it for me! Run this race for YOU. Set your A & B goals. Star, Keith, and Trey are right, you’ll push yourself just a tad harder…You can do it!!!!

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