Putting my marathon race goals out there for everyone to see intimidates me. I know that saying them out loud makes me no more or less likely to achieve them. I will put in the hard work of training. I will do my best to rest for recovery, eat well, and stay healthy. With a little luck thrown in, I will show up well-trained and injury-free on race day. Then it’s a matter of seeing how the cards fall that morning.
Which of these goals will I achieve? Does it make it any less of an accomplishment if I don’t achieve them all? (Remind self on race day: the answer is no — if you achieve any of these goals, you should be thrilled and proud and ready to strive for the next goal at the next race!)
5. Finish the race. I know all too well that the goal with any race, and particularly a new running race distance, is to finish. No DNS, no DNF = win! An automatic PR! Better yet, finish without injury and you’re golden even without a spot on the podium.
4. Finish in under 4:30. That would be a darn respectable time.
3. Finish in under 4:10. Now we’re talking.
2. Finish in under 4:04. That’s what the McMillan Running Calculator and other pace calculators predict I can do based on my half marathon time — somewhere in the range of 4:04 and 4:02.
1. Sub-4! There’s a big difference between 4:04 and 3:59:59. Some (including the authors of Run Less, Run Faster) would say it’s not wise for me to push the pace and try to break four hours. Perhaps they are right, and “they” can tell me they told me so on race day. I am content to strive for my highest goal. My training thus far proves that the goal is on target. Using the Run Less, Run Faster plan and assuming a marathon pace of 9:06, I am able to meet the prescribed times for the track repeats, tempo runs and long runs. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, I’ve-put-it-out-there-don’t-smite-me-now, I will achieve one or more of my goals at my first marathon less than three months from now!
Do you set one or more goals for yourself for a race? How has that played out for you in past races? I broke 30 minutes in my first 5K as an adult. I completed my first 8K and 10Ks without injury (I set a low bar on those races!), and I reached my highest goal of a sub-2 for my first half marathon.