Before you ever stand on the starting line at your first or next race you should set a finishing goal.
But is one goal enough? I think not.
For every major race I have entered I’ve gone to the starting line with three goals…and sometimes more.
For my very first marathon I set three goals. First, was finishing in under 4 hours and 30 minutes. My second goal was to finish under 4 hours and 45 minutes and finally my last goal was to finish the marathon running and to not get injured. At the end of the day I would have been happy to meet anyone of those goals. But why did I need three goals?
I believe in going into a race with more then one goal because life is not always what we except or can predict. Sure some motivational speakers will tell you to select a goal and go after it with laser focus never compromising on that ONE stated goal. But how many of us, in the “work-a-day-world” can really be that focused. I’m sure the majority of us amateur athletes would agree that there are any number of distractions competing for our time and attention, not only during training but also on race day.
I select a main goal, my “A-goal” for a finishing time just a tad bit faster then I’ve been training for. I considered this my stretch goal. This is the target on the wall.
I also chose a secondary goal, my “B-goal” for a time slightly slower then my primary goal. This goal is a good second best option in case something on race day goes array, something outside of my training or outside of my control. Reaching this standard, I would feel like I achieved a reward nearly equal to my efforts. This goal (and maybe missing my primary goal) would fuel me to come back even more motivated for the next race. This goal provides a soft landing spot in case I can’t live up to my “A-goal” without feeling defeated.
And lastly I choose a third tier goal as my “what if” option. What if, everything goes wrong. What if, any reasonable degree of control was lost because of the winds of fate. This “C-goal” although in the hands of defeat, I would be happy to live and to run another day.
Set a goal, train for it, but leave yourself options just in case you forgot to print the parking passes and have to walk over a mile to reach the starting line. (Yea, I’ve done that)