As we move through our particular training plan, we are likely to encounter new and difficult challenges which may make us question our efforts. Whether it is an injury, fatigue, work issues, personal issues, family issues; issues come up.
At the time, it may seem easier to give up and quit than to lace up our shoes and go for a run. It is times like these when we must reflect on our goals.
Goals help us put our efforts in perspective, remind us that we our training for something bigger than ourselves, and at a most basic level gives us a reason to get out of bed a train in the morning. I always found it helpful to write down my goals, and share them with my friends so that I could be held accountable during training. At the beginning of my training cycles I would write down three goals that I would work towards over the 12-16 weeks of training before my event. The three goals were one racing goal, one training goals, and one personal goal.
To find success you should make your goals specific to you as a runner, measurable, and attainable. Goals can be made for the long or short term, and can be for the process of working towards them or your performance of them. For example, these are my three goals for the Saddleback Marathon and the weeks of training leading up to it.
Training goal- Run everyday. This may seem simple but there are circumstances when running on a given day may not be possible. Any of the aforementioned issues could arise, and I could not run that day. Does this make me a bad person, a terrible runner, or destined to fail? No, it just means I have to adjust my view of success to accommodate circumstance. The spirit of my goal was for me to run more often and more consistently. If I was running four days a week, but know I am running five, six or seven days per week I am in the process of taking short term steps to performing my long term goal. Thus, I am having success working towards my goal.
Racing goal- I want to run my race to the best of my ability that day. This may seem vague at first, but that is why your goals have to be personal to you. It would be foolish of me to say that my goal is to win the race. What happens if I have an awesome training course, fueled and raced well, and ran the race of my life but 10 guys faster than me happened to show up that day. It would be hard to swallow and would lead to negativity that would invalidate all that I had done, because my goal at the time would not have been attainable. Make your goals realistic and attainable so you can feel great when they are accomplished, but even better about yourself everyday that you do something which brings you closer to it.
Personal goal- Text, message, call, or chat with one person a day about how they are doing in their lives. September 27 is going to come and go whether I am out running or sitting on my butt doing nothing. The same idea follows when creating a personal goal. You are going to be putting out effort for 12-16 weeks training for your event, you might as well use it to better something in your life at the same time.
But why not make it a goal to be a kinder person or breathe more or listen better? How are you going to measure that? The point of goals is to take something abstract and make it real. I would like to be more patient, I would like to be more understanding, I would like to be a better person. How do I make that happen in a real way? I am choosing to make a small, measurable action everyday that I hope will lead to something bigger. A conversation with someone, not about me but about them will force me to be present, to listen, to care, and hopefully over time work on being a better me.
A better runner, a better you, a better way of going about things; all by writing down a few goals.
By Damian Rodriguez