Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Setting Race Goals

Going into a race without a goal is basically going to the start line without a plan. And without a plan, your chances of success are not very good. After all, if you have no idea what you're aiming for and how you plan to achieve it, you're basically running blind. 

And that was exactly how I ran last year's 10k, my first attempt at the distance. I was coming off two injuries - a hamstring strain and a busted up knee (hello faceplant on Lake Drive!) - and didn't want to set the bar too high. So instead, I didn't really set the bar at all. I had a weak time goal in mind but no plan for the race. I happened to get lucky with a decent time and top 10 finish, but I will always wonder if I could have run faster had I gone in with a better plan.  

With Mom after last year's 10k

I recently read the most interesting article about setting race goals. Unfortunately, I can't remember the source - I read way too much about running - but the basic premise was that at every race, runners should set three goals: one that's completely within their control, one that's somewhat within their control, and one that is not really within their control. The reasoning being that runners should first focus on the goal that's completely within their control - and if they are successful with that one, there's a better chance of attaining the second and third goals. 

I really like this approach and will be using it for this weekend's 10k race. My three goals are:

1. Run my best effort at every moment of the race. It goes back to my all-time favorite mantra, Pay the Price. Pay the price during training and throughout the race or pay the price at the end of the race with a bad time/missed goal.

When a race gets tough, ask if you can give a little more. 
The answer is almost always yes!

2. Run a 44:XX time - As long as I can execute on the first goal, I should be able to hit the second goal. At least according to the plan from Coach Matt!

3. Place within the top 5 women - Obviously this goal is pretty dependent on other runners. I could run my very best and still miss this goal depending on who's racing on Saturday and how they end up running. But based on past results, I like my chances ;)

All that's left to do til Saturday are a few easy runs, eating right and getting plenty of sleep. It's time to put that winter and spring training to the test!

I'd like to know ... How do you determine your race goal(s)?

- ST


  1. Very solid goals! Good luck this weekend and I hope that you achieve everything on your list! :) My goals for this weekend have fluctuated a little bit since my training started late due to an injury. Usually I set multiple goals though. And I also usually don't talk about them because I'm INCREDIBLY superstitious. :)

    1. Best of luck at your race, too! You never know what might happen on race day so think positively and hope for the best :)

  2. I love the idea of setting three different goals! I usually set a time goal, a placement goal, and of course I try to have the goal of running my best effort for all races, but sometimes, I admit, that one could use a little work. Obviously we train hard and we want to do well, but sometimes when it gets to hurting it's easy to back off rather than push through and then we're stuck wondering what if we had pushed harder at the end. I hope you have a relaxing and restful week leading up to race day and I'll be cheering for you from AZ! :)

    1. Thanks Hailey! I completely agree - it's all too easy to let up for a bit during the middle miles of a race. Definitely don't want to fall into that trap!

  3. first off, i want to say that i love the buns! second, i am so excited for you and can't wait to hear how you do this weekend! third, i generally just have a time goal in mind and then to place in my age group. since i'm really new to running i rarely plan to place in the top of the race but i do within my age group. i almost always hit that goal unless injured. i haven't really set the bar too high yet.

    1. Yay! Did you get to race in them at last weekend's 5k? Awesome :)

      I usually have an age group place in mind, too, depending on the race. I'm all about setting the bar as high as possible. I don't mind failing now and then but I do mind not living up to potential!