Should we aim for the stars, or is the moon more achievable? Kat tells us how she sets goals that will get her moving but that she can actually reach by race day…
My Friday long run the week just gone was made even more enjoyable by the fact that I had just handed in my Masters thesis. I have poured the last year of my life into doing field work and researching for and not to mention writing my thesis and the satisfaction of seeing it bound and handed in is still somewhat unreal to me. Thinking about this and how it fits into my running life got me thinking about how my Masters was really a series of small short-term goals which culminated in me achieving my long-term goal of producing my finished thesis. That’s what training and racing is to me, a series of small short and medium-term goals which pave the way to my bigger long-term goals.
I am quite a goal oriented person and I find that having a goal in mind gives me purpose in everything I do. With running my biggest goals are usually races and in between each race I will have smaller goals associated with training which keep me motivated and making sure that every training session counts. I also find that writing down my goals or telling someone else what my goals are holds me accountable. Once I told a friend about my goal to run my first marathon in under four hours, I simply had to go and do it and guess what, I did.
I know it sounds cliché but setting SMART goals is vital. If I use my goal of finishing the 34km Hillary event in 2015 in under four hours as an example it is:
Specific – I am aiming for one event in particular and a well-reasoned aim time
Measurable – A time aim is a good one for running races because you are always timed for results. I find aiming for a placing is not such a good idea because it depends on other people and who turns up on the day. I like to be able to hold only myself accountable for my success or failure.
Attainable – My time was 4:08 in the 2014 event and aiming to take 10 minutes out of this time is reasonable.
Relevant – This goal fits nicely with my super long-term goal of racing an ultra-marathon. The more experience I can get running challenging and longer trail races the better
Time-bound – Race day is goal day, it’s as simple as that.
Having an attainable goal is really important to me and I find I get despondent and lose motivation if I set too lofty a goal and don’t ultimately achieve it. In saying that, however, there is a similar amount of peril in setting a goal which doesn’t stretch me far enough. There is not quite as much satisfaction in achieving a goal which I know from the outset I will be able to achieve without much effort. I find that a really good long term goal is one that scares you just a little bit at the outset and becomes more realistic and attainable once you start setting some short and medium-term goals.
I guess I have already talked about my main goal for the Hillary this year; to finish in under four hours. There are a few other goals which I want to achieve in this race around trying to get a more even split in the first and second half and also making sure that I am eating and drinking enough through the race – something which has always been an issue for me. I’m intrigued to hear what kind of goals my fellow Hillary runners are setting – I know you all have one!