Monday, May 28, 2012

Running Goals or Running Goal; What is it That I Want?

The other day I got all caught up in setting running goals for myself for the rest of the year. After the goals were set, I found myself starting to worry about how I was going to reach them. Wondering if there would be time to sufficiently prepare for them all. My goals were to run a 5k in under 20 minutes, to run a half marathon in 1:25 minutes and qualify for and run in the Boston marathon in 2014. At first, I thought that setting and meeting these goals would make me a more serious runner. In fact, I thought that to be the "serious" runner I want to be that I needed these goals.

However, while I was running the other morning I realized that first of all, I was thinking about how to shift my training to meet my 5k goal. Then I began thinking about the right approach to a 1:25 half while training to qualify for Boston in a full marathon a month later. That is when I realized that the ancillary goals were starting to consume my focus and quite possibly interfere with the big goal. I also realized that the ancillary goals would quite possibly manifest without focusing on them through the course of preparing and pursuing the real goal.

So, after some reflection I realized that while it would be nice to have a sub 20 minute 5k in my list of achievements it really isn't something that I care about in terms of running. Even the half marathon in 1:25 isn't really something that I care about. I have run a half marathon 3 times now and I have run each faster than the last. My goals  no longer need to be restrained to distances I have already covered and times that my natural progression show I will hit anyway. I need to shift my focus to bigger things. What I really want in terms of running is to run Boston in 2014.

So now I have one goal that I can totally focus on and the difference is that by dropping the goals for a 5k and a half marathon I no longer need to feel like I have to worry about them. I don't have to worry about finding a 5k at the right time. Even if I do find the perfect 5k to run in, I don't need to worry about shifting focus to prepare for it. The same goes for the half marathon goal. While, I intend to run at least one more half before my target race, I don't need to worry about it and more importantly, I won't have to interrupt my marathon training to focus on hitting a goal in that half marathon.


Brian Vinson said...

Sounds like smart thinking. Your 1/2 marathon time will continue to drop if you keep up the fantastic training. Good luck on the training and on achieving the BQ!

Greg Strosaker said...

I agree completely with your approach, there should be only one "A" race per season, and the rest can and should serve as tune-ups, that should be "trained through" and not tapered for. You may recall from my book that I set a half-marathon PR in September at the tail-end of my highest-mileage week, so marathon training will deliver PR's (if not even your long-term goal) along the way. Also, you may well find that you can take advantage of your marathon fitness to deliver a huge 5K PR after appropriate recovery and maybe 4 weeks of focus on turnover and speed. Good luck, looking forward to following along!

Jenny R. Sherrill said...

This is a blog about life -- right here. What is the ultimate goal? And are the incidentals getting in the way?
Have you read "The Tyranny of the Urgent"? It deals with this same subject, except in the spiritual sense.
Anyway. I'm not a runner, but your thoughts here are much more inclusive. But you probably already know that.

Christian J High said...

Jenny, I am glad you got that message out of it and thanks for pointing it out to me because I didn't make the connection, but you are right. I will check out that book.