“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!