Wednesday, May 7, 2008


At The Runner's Lounge, this week's "take and run Thursday" we are to share our wisdom and experiences. I decided to tackle marathon goals and to share a story about one of my races in which my goal planning was challenged by the weather.

I just read a great article in the June edition of the Running Times on the Two-Plan Rule of Racing (page 18) by Greg McMillian. A group of USATF coaches suggest setting 2 goals rather than 3 goals produce better results. They recommend going into each race with 2 realistic but attainable goals. Goal 1 would be a goal that you would achieve with a perfect day with your best effort. This goal must be supported by your previous training and racing.

The second goal (Goal 2) is the goal that you set which would be the "minimum achievement" for you to be satisfied with the your race. In other words, this is a "must have goal with no excuses".
If you don't attain this goal, you absolutely had a bad race and should learn from your choices during the race.

If all systems are go, meaning your fitness level, the race course and the weather are favorable then, goal 1 is the one you go for. On the other hand if any of these are off then, goal 2 is the one to shoot for.

I feel that this is a great approach to do for the upcoming marathon season. In the marathon you must have a second goal. There are so many variables that can ruin your original race plans.

In the 1998 Detroit Free Press Marathon I definitely used this goal system to my advantage. In the days before the race I determined that as a result of my training & race I was in shape to run below 2:45. This was goal 1. The night before the race, I was watching the Notre Dame at Northwestern Football game on ESPN. It was absolutely pouring down rain and was very windy. This weather system was heading straight for Detroit and I knew goal 1 was in jeopardy! Race morning the weather was actually perfect 50 & no wind or rain. The guys that I had planned to race with took off at our original goal pace. I was very tempted to go with them. It was painful to watch them leave me. The night before I had decided that based on the weather forecast & high winds my goal 2 was to run under 2:55. I knew that the in the first half of the race we would have a tail wind and the second half coming back south toward downtown we would be facing a heavy head wind. The rain came first at around the 9 mile mark. I caught my first friend at the 14 mile mark. On Belle Isle, the wind hit hard at 19 with gusts up to 35 mph. The next 4 miles were brutal! Each mile got slower / from 6:30 to 7:50. The tail wind and the early pace claimed another victim as I past my other friend near 23. At 24 the course turn out of the wind and I was able to pick it back up to 7:10 pace to finish at 2:52:42. Goal 2 MET! Despite the slower time, I still feel that this was one of my best races. If I had gone with my original goal pace, I 'm sure I would have ended up in the medical tent with hypothermia. Having a realistic goal 2 and sticking to the slower pace allowed me to make a positive out of rough weather day.

It is my hope that this helps somebody out there to set some good goals and have the courage to achieve them. Good Luck and may the wind be at your back!

Last week we asked the question, In your typical training week, how may rest days do you take?
The results (20 votes): NO rest days 5% / 1 rest day 25%/ 2 rest days 30% / 3 rest days 15%/ 1 rest day with 1 cross training day 25%


Amy@RunnersLounge said...

What wonderful advice and reminder! Thanks for sharing and talking about goal setting. And thanks for recapping the poll.

Nat said...

That is really an interesting way of looking at things. I like it. In fact I think I may just try it this weekend for my 15K.

Anonymous said...

Great advice and a great story. I always try to remember that my #1 goal is to have fun. Time makes little difference to anyone but me.

What a great story! Thanks