Monday, April 21, 2014

When Setting a Goal = Failure

image via Runner's World

My half-marathon is coming up on Saturday, and with a 10-mile run last weekend that went superbly, I'm feeling a lot better about the upcoming race. It had seemed like all of my long runs (just about, anyway) during this bout of training had been uphill battles that I was continually losing---I seemed to lose energy, get terrible side stitches, and feel like throwing up every time I laced up my sneakers.

Last Saturday's long run finally went as planned, which gives me hope that I might be able to get through the race this week with my  head held high.

I once read somewhere (probably in Runner's World magazine) that it's unwise to set just one goal for yourself for a race. Many times, serious runners (a category I now have to class myself with) get so latched onto one "dream time" for their race that they will often feel like failures if they don't hit that number, even if everything else about the race (or training!) had gone well.

So, in order to not be classified now or ever as a "foolish runner that is setting herself up for failure," I have set three possible goal times for my upcoming half :

1. My "if-the-stars-align-and-I-magically-feel-like-I-can-fly" time,

2. My "tough-to-reach-but-actually-really-do-able time," and

3. My "I'd-better-get-this-time-or-else-I'll-beat-myself-up-for-weeks" time.

My out-of-this-world time would be 1:59:59 (aka, anything under two hours, which is one of the goals on my life's bucket list). Considering that this goal would require me to average about a 9-minute mile the whole way, it's still pretty "out-of-this-world" for my current body and speed. Like I've mentioned before, I may be a devoted runner, but I'm not exactly fast.

My hard-but-possible goal is 2:07. On my 10-mile run last Saturday, I ran 9:30 for about the last 6 miles, which should set me up nicely to do a 2:07 (if I can average the rest of the miles to be at about 10-minutes apiece). I will seriously be thrilled if I hit 2:07 on Saturday because it will mean that everything has gone really well.

The time I'm absolutely going to force myself to beat no matter what is 2:17, which is half of what my marathon time was two years ago (4:34). Considering that I'm overall faster than I was two years ago and that I'm only running 13.1 miles instead of 26.2, I really better beat that time.

The race is this Saturday at 7 AM, so here's hoping I cross that finish line at 9:07 or earlier!

Have you ever run in a race before? Do you set time goals for yourself? Or is your general goal just to finish?


  1. I have done 2 halfs (halves? Does that sound weird to you too?), and my goal for the first one was to finish. I only set one goal for the second. I listened to a podcast with a running coach who only let his runners set an 'a goal,' which is what I did. For me, setting a 'b goal' would have allowed me to take it a little easy or wind up just letting myself reach for the 'b goal' if I felt the other one slipping away. So I set only one goal, and I reached it (I exceeded it by about 4 minutes). I'm doing a half in about 3 1/2 weeks, and this is definitely the least I have trained. I'm not confident that I'll pr this time around, but I'm okay with that. My real aim is a full later this year, and I want to be smart by not killing myself physically and mentally before aiming for a full. Have you written much about your full training/race day?

    Good luck with your upcoming race!!

  2. First, you are going to do great! You should write more about your training and races! I love reading where other runners are and how they got there. I've learned that race days are just very different then any other run. I did a half (my second) just a couple weeks ago and was basically asleep at the start line... I beat my first half time by 8 minutes. My first I did in 2:25, my goal was to finish since it was my first. My second was in 2:17 (2 minutes shy of my goal time but I wasn't expecting mile 13 to be completely uphill). I'm slightly obsessed with half marathons now and have one planned for almost every month this year. My next one is Saturday, it's my first trail half and I'm shooting for 2:15 (round 2)... trails take a little longer and I'm lazy with my training. You will do awesome and if you do spectacular and become a sub-2hour-half-er we need training details!


Thanks so much for leaving a comment! I love reading your thoughts :)

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