Marathon Goal Setting
Goals are vital to your overall success as they set up the direction of your training. Effectiveness of Marathon goal setting depends on the level of the individual runner. Generally speaking, For someone running their first marathon, finishing with a smile should be their goal. For the more experienced marathon runners, their goal is not just winning but improving their times and placing higher than last race. As runners compete they become more proficient runners and over time decrease their times by gaining PB's (personal bests). Eventually the better your training goes you can begin to set higher goals such winning your age group.
Examples for Marathon goal setting:
- Beginner runner: Finishing with a smile
- Intermediate runner: Below 4 hours
- Experienced runner: Below 3 hours
One major obstacle many runners face is balancing home, work, training, and whatever their daily lives may throw at them. Figure out your priorities in the beginning so you do not feel overwhelmed. Realizing that running and training will have to take a backseat, you will save yourself the disappointment and frustration in the end.
When setting your goals, set goals that you can achieve. Setting unrealistic goals will only discourage you. You will be able to knock out your first small goals quickly. Take this and use it to build your confidence to work towards your more difficult goals. At times, it will seem like you are taking one-step forward and three steps back in your progression towards your ultimate goal but do not let this discourage you. Keep working at them, stay committed to your training and you will achieve them in time
One of the best tools any runner could use to improve their performance is learning how to set short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals. When you are facing hard days to get you motivated, or when the weather is horrible, having a goal to work towards gets you pumped up and motivated to face whatever may come your way. Long term goals should target your last and primary race, usually 7-10 months before the end of the racing season , whereas short term goals should target your next coming race.
The Long-term goal is the most important one and you should change this goal periodically as you improve from training. Having this goal set that far in advanced prevents your from trying to rush into too much too soon. When setting your goals have two sets of goals: 1. Challenging but achievable (Your dream time) 2. Stimulating and acceptable (Improving your last year's times)
Below are some things to take into consideration when setting your goals:
1. Objectives - Objectives are important for the choice of the right drive and knowing how to design your course at the beginning of training. For example ,If your race is too close to your primary race, you may want to use it as just a long run day or for a pace work out. If this is the case, keep a steady pace throughout the entire race.
2. Personal/Internal Factors - Take into consideration your personal characteristics such as age, weight, mental state and fitness level at the time of the race. You may have to adjust your goals slightly lower if you have gained a few kilograms or if you are recovering from an injury. Your recovery is more important so adjust your goals to allow for ample recovery time. Also, being “pumped up” for the race could be just what you need to stay at a steady pace and achieve your goal time. If you are stressed and on little to no sleep, this will affect your time also.
3. External/Environmental Factors - Before you set your goals check how the environment such as the terrain, crowd and weather, can affect you. If your route contains numerous hills, if it is raining, snowing, or even too hot/cold, you will need to adjust accordingly. For instance, on windy days consider the tailing wind may give you a better time. In addition, If the starting line is packed, you may not get your pace up as fast as you should. If the water station is packed with runners, it will contribute to your overall time. In addition, if you need the extra support and cheering from the crowds to get you going, if you are running on a country route with no spectators this could effect your goal time too.