My goal with this blog was to update every week or so. But, much like other aspects of life (and running) in 2009, I did not uphold my end of the bargain. I guess that is what 2010 will be for: setting some good goals in running and life and doing everything possible to meet them.
The goal setting process is always an interesting one. I can remember in University my goals being very focused on hitting certain times, what with the NCAA being so competitive and qualification for NCAA indoor championships and NCAA outdoor Regionals being based on times. I made some big improvements during my 3rd year (2004) in University when I ran 4:01 (mile) and 7:58 (3k) indoors. I think I sat down after that season and told myself 1.5 seconds per year improvement in the mile and 3 seconds per year improvement in the 3k and by 2010 I’d be doing quite well in this sport! IF only things were that easy.
Now 2010 is here and today I cracked open a new training dairy (a nice Christmas present from the parents!) and jotted down my PB’s on one of the first pages and…… for the mile and 3k they are exactly the same as way back in 2004. Granted, I’ve only run a handful of races over those distances since 2004. But, it just got me thinking about the challenges of improving in this sport and how much the goals we set can make a difference in our approach to training and racing.
After I graduated University I put a lot of pressure on myself to make big improvements on my track times. Nearly every time out I failed to meet those goals. At the time I thought it was because I wasn’t good enough, and I became frustrated and lost confidence in my running (that is partly what steered me towards doing more road racing and eventually the marathon). But, I think part of the problem was that my goals weren’t realistic. I wasn’t giving myself a chance to take small steps to improve or to learn a lot of important racing skills. In turn I didn’t improve at all.
Even last year, I was stymied when I didn’t bust out of the gates with a sub 28:30 10,000m on the track in California at the end of March. I had done a good block of training and was in good shape, but in reality sub 28:30 was a very hard target for me to hit at that time of the year. Once in the race and the going got tough and I saw that sub 28:30 slipping away, I lost it mentally as well as physically. Hanging on for a hard fought 28:40, or even 28:50 wasn’t an option, they just weren’t the goals I had for that race. I lost that competitiveness and real racing edge and sort of just zoned-out and got myself around the track. Maybe if my goals were a little less ambitious I’d have met them. But, at the same time we can’t sell ourselves short and set goals that are too easy to obtain, and possibly become complacent. Anyways, I guess the moral of the story (I don’t why there’s a story or a moral to it) is that the process of goal setting is something we should put a lot of thought into, and usually the changing of the calendar is a good time to do that.
That being said, I haven’t set too many goals for 2010!?! But when I do, I’ll try and take my own advice and a) make sure they not only challenging and will get me excited for the upcoming year, and motivate me to train hard, but b) are also realistic and attainable (without the aid of a rocket ship to get me around the roads or track). I’ll try and post them when I update this blog again (within a week!)
All the best to everyone (anyone?) reading this for the year ahead!
And if you need any motivation for the winter slogging, check out this song (it’s been getting me through some ridiculous elliptical sessions – the purpose of those needing another blog post all together)):