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By Bill Dodson
As is probably true in any discipline, I find explicit goals to be veryimportant in running. There are general goals, such as being the best I canbe, but the ones that really count are the ones that help keep meenthusiastic, focused and training smartly.
I try to always have a goal or set of goals for the coming year, plus goalsfor each coming event. For the year, my goals tend to include some newpersonal achievement, or setting of a new course or national age grouprecord. As an example, this year after entering the 65-69 age group I hopeto run a sub three-hour marathon, set a new 65-69 age group course record atthe Pikes Peak Marathon and set a new 65-69 age group national record in a50 mile road race.
These are all goals that will stretch me to the limits ofmy ability, but for which I have enough experience to believe they arepossible. A characteristic of yearly goals is that there are typicallymultiple opportunities to meet them.
For specific events I like to have three goals which I refer to as mydisappointment goal, my motivation goal and my dream goal. Thedisappointment goal represents a time which, if I don't achieve, indicates asignificant weakness in some aspect of training or effort. The motivationgoal represents a time which I believe I can realistically achieve, but willtake a really good effort on top of smart and hard training. The dream goalrepresents a time such that with ultimate training and effort, along withideal conditions, I just might have a chance at achieving.
Goals can also be used effectively in training as well as competition. For atrack workout day a goal for me might be to do 16x400 meter intervals atunder 90 seconds with a 200 meter recovery jog, getting the fastest time onthe last one. A good long distance training goal might be to do 15-20 milesat 1-2 minutes per mile slower than marathon pace, followed by 5 miles atmarathon goal race pace.
Some people tend to keep their goals to themselves, especially until afterthe event. Without planning it that way, I tend to broadcast mine to anyonewilling to listen. Hopefully this enhances my motivation, but requires theability to constructively handle embarrassment. One potential danger withthis approach is a tendency to push on when I should drop out or ease off toavoid serious injury. Fortunately, I have found my 'fans' (especially allthose who matter) to be very understanding (except for myself, my mostcritical fan :-).
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