Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Marathon Goals: Why I Won't Be Disappointed

A few months ago I read Meb Keflezighi's book 
"Meb for Mortals: How to Run, Think, and Eat Like a Champion"

I zipped through this book in just a few days and came away with TONS of great information...and an ever deeper love for Meb! I mean seriously you guys...he is ah-maz-ing!

One of the most valuable chapters (to me) was the very first chapter "Think like Meb"

In this chapter he talks about setting goals and how the right mind-set leads to running success. He goes on to talk about why goals are important and the qualities of a good goal.

Now, I have always been a very goal-oriented person and will work my tail off to meet a goal...and while all that is great...I am also the kind of person that is incredibly hard on myself and tend to be affected negatively when I don't reach my goal or experience a set back. So needless to say, I definitely benefited from this chapter :)

As I read through this section I found myself highlighting SO much interesting information and things that really made me think and reevaluate my goal setting process. 

As I was thinking about my goal/goals for the Chicago Marathon, my mind kept going back to Meb's book...I kept thinking "What would Meb do?" and through this I feel confident that I have not only set good goals for myself but, I have set myself up to succeed! 

Since this book impacted me so greatly, I thought I would share some of sections that struck me as the most meaningful when I was setting my goals...because who knows...maybe it will help you too?

1. A good goal has personal meaning

"I knew that chasing that goal would motivate me to do what was necessary to achieve it and that doing so would require me to do my best"

"When you hit a tough stretch, either physically or mentally, if the goal you're working toward has deep significance for you, you will find a way to perservere"

Both of the above quotes hit me hard and kept popping back in my head, especially during hard training runs. It is no secret that I had A LOT of big life changes during the last 18 weeks of training...and let me tell you, there were moments when I wanted to quit. However, the one thing that kept me going was that I was running for a charity. Knowing that my training and this race was more than just a check on my bucket list kept me going. Running this race was bigger than just me.

A Good Goal is Specific

"There's no ambiguity there. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and that helped me decide how I should go about doing it"

Last year my goal going into the KC Marathon was a sub 4. I ended up finishing with a 4:04...and while I was thrilled with my experience, I couldn't help but be a little bit disappointed. I was SOOOO close!! This year I decided I would go for that goal again...so when picking my training plan I went with a sub 4 plan, stuck to it (as closely as possible) and incorporated all of the exercises I was given by my chiropractor last year as much as I could, so I could avoid a repeat of my glute injury :)
A good goal is challenging, but realistic

"Your goals should require you to reach outside your comfort zone while remaining within the realm of possibility"

This was tough for me this time around. I went into marathon training still on a high from the Heartland 39.3 series, where I ran 3 back to back sub 1:45 marathons. I felt on top of the world and like I could accomplish anything! 
In the weeks after the Heartland Series words like BQ came up in my mind...and I started to get excited. Qualifying for Boston would be the ULTIMATE in my books...and honestly it felt like a possibility.

Then, as I was looking at the race, training plans, and how I was going to make it all work I had a slap of reality...

 Planning a wedding, getting married, going on a honeymoon, buying a house, moving, starting a new school year during the 18 weeks of training...made me realize...while this goal is challenging and outside my comfort zone (miles outside) it was no where near realistic. I had to come to grips with the fact that I was not in the place right now to make this happen. 

Plus...it's my 2nd marathon and while I like to think I am an expert...I am nowhere near it! With all that was happening I knew that a sub 4 was going to be challenging in itself.

A good goal has a time element

"Having a date by which you want to reach your goal helps you plan how to reach it"

This is something that is always key to my successes in reaching my goals. I have to have a specific race in mind before I can even begin to think about setting a goal. I need to know how much time I have before I can make a plan. 
I signed up for the Chicago Marathon back in May (on the heels of my post Heartland Series elation) so I had plenty of time to prepare and set a plan of attack!

Goal Accountability

"I write down my goals so there's no question of what I am aiming for. 

Hence the blog...by posting about my goals I can regularly remind myself of what I am working towards. It gives me an outlet so I can stay focused without talking my poor husbands ear off about it every day (although, he might say that this still happens!)

Sharing your goals with others

Again...the blog. This to me is the biggest key in keeping me accountable. I think about disappointing not only myself but those who support me and encourage me on a daily basis. 

Another place that I share is on IG...this may seem annoying to some and there will always be those people that say "Can't you work out without telling the world" and yes...I probably could...but there have been times on a run (especially a speed-workout) that I would like to throw in the towel and then I think about sharing my splits on IG or the blog and I don't want to look like a quitter. So maybe it's annoying and people don't understand the thousands of photos of my watch...but it helps me and that is all that matters.

Another section of Meb's book that got a lot of highlighting attention from we was "Chapter 4: Race Like Meb"

This is a chapter I have since gone back and read (SEVERAL times) especially in the last few weeks.

As race-day approaches I always feel better equipped to evaluate whether or not my goals are realistic or if maybe I can push myself a little farther...but the one thing I have really focused on this time around is setting multiple goals so that if by chance my main goal is not attainable I don't feel totally defeated...I can focus on the second goal and so on. 

The Key to Racing: Mental Strength and Flexibility

"Once you're under way at a reasonable pace, the mind games begin. The way to win the mind games -- and do the best you can on that day is to have a plan. 
When I say a plan I mean a full set of goals, from A to Z. Goal A is the ultimate you hope to achieve that day. Goal B is your first backup; it's still a great result. Each subsequent goal is a little farther away from goal A. Each one should be something that will give you focus and determination if it becomes obvious your higher goals aren't possible that day"

"The idea here is to find the positive spin on whatever the current situation is as a way to keep yourself motivated"

This chapter was HUGE for me...it has allowed me to really think about what my ideal finish time is and then go down the line with what I would still be happy with.

Here are my goals for race day (in 5 days!)

Goal A: 3:50 or below
Goal B: Sub 4
Goal C: A PR (under 4:04)
 Goal D: Sub 4:10
Goal E: Finish the damn race with a smile :)
Goal F: Finish without injury
Goal G: Finish and give it my all

In reality though, I look at those goals and I think to myself...I've already won. I have already achieved so much...

I ran hundreds of miles in the last 18 weeks, while some pretty big life changes were occurring, I never gave up...and best of all I am injury free. 

In my mind...I've already done most of the hard work. Now all I have to do is run those last 26.2 miles! 


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