How to Choose a Goal/Goal Race

As we approach the final 3-4 months of the season, most of us are getting ready to ramp up training for our goal races before summer kicks in.Those who train with me, know very well that I obsess so much about picking up a goal or a goal race , trying to figure out every minute detail even before we start training

Goals keep your accountable to yourself

Most of us are very good at choosing goals but we miss the fine print. When it comes to fitness/running, I always suggest to divide the segment into 4 parts

1.Choose a goal that challenges you – Ensure that the goal you choose, challenges you and makes you step out of your comfort zone. Do not settle for a goal which you can do already.

2.Set a Realistic Timeline – This is where many people miss out on. While it is excellent to have a really daunting goal, it is extremely critical to ensure that execution has to be realistic. For example, your goal may be to run a sub 4 marathon or to BQ, but you cannot directly jump into training for the respective goal. You need to evaluate your current fitness levels and training has to be realistic and not aspirational. Work with your Coach or Mentor to find a realistic timeline to achieve the goals

3.Break down your goals into smaller finite goals – Big goals can always look daunting. Once an interviewer asked the legendary Scott Jurek as to how can even one fathom the thought of running 24 hours on a track or at a race like Badwater. His response was very simple. Break down your big goal into small finite goals and just focus on achieving one goal at a time. If your goal is to run a sub 4 marathon, focus on running a 50min 10k and then a 1.55 half marathon before building to a sub4 marathon. One step at a time

4.Develop Process Oriented Goals instead of Result Based Goals – Lets be honest. The pressure of not being results can really stress us & it can actually stop us away from enjoying the process. So, focus on process goals – goals that you can control – such as running 5 days a week, sleeping 8 hrs a day, managing your nutrition well. Focus on small goals, week on week. Running at X pace on race day cannot be controlled. It depends on a lot of factors like the course, race day nutrition, weather etc. Instead of worrying about factors that you cannot control, work on aspects that you can control

Pro Tip: I really like to focus just on today’s workout. I do not worry about what’s coming this weekend. Focusing on workouts one day at a time has really helped me a lot. Devise a 16 week plan based on your goal. Once the plan is set, don’t look beyond one day. Maintain a training log. Note down how you feel every day. Write it down. Checking your training log before the big day is a huge confidence booster

Choosing a goal viz a viz goal races

Given a choice between choosing a race and a goal , I will always go with choosing a goal first. Most of us make the mistake of choosing a goal race first ahead of the goal. One should always remember that your goal will be affected by the choice of your race. So instead of choosing the race first, work on an annual training plan.

Before the start of the next season, do the following

1.Choose a goal that you want to achieve by end of next season

2.Divide your goal into small finite segments

3.Choose a goal race based on weather, course etc based on the big goal that you want to achieve. If your goal is to run a fast marathon, the weather & course profile of the race matters a lot. Doing very well in training cannot compensate for a poor choice of race or execution on race day

4.Find smaller races and fit them during the course of your training to fit into your annual training plan

5.Maintain a training log

6.Review your training periodically and make changes, if required

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