Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Running Goals

"A goal without a plan is just a dream"

June 2013- shaved a minute from my previous 5k
When I first began running, I had absolutely 0 goals. I wasn't training for a race or trying to acheive a specific time, or even a certain distance; I just loved to run. However, after a few months of running and racing, I realized that I was improving every so slightly. I watched my 5k time fall from 26:48 to 24:07 in just over a month and my goal then became to simply PR in each race I ran after that.

In August 2013, I started training for my very first half marathon and set a goal of finished under 2:00:00. I didn't do much training in the speed department, but I consistently ran my weekly long run and knew the paces I needed to hit to achieve this time. I finished that race in 1:55:30, almost 5 minutes earlier than my goal, with a huge smile on my face. For my first half marathon, I was estastic to be crossing the finish line with an 8:49 average pace/mile and was proud that I pushed myself to achieve my goal.

Beat my goal time by 30 whole seconds!
The first time I set an actual time goal for a 5k was in October of 2014, training for the Turkey Trot 5k to be held in early November. I remember writing "22:50 7:30 avg pace" on a post it note and hanging it above my desk- partially to motivate me and mostly so I wouldn't forget ;) It's easy to say "I want to PR this time", but without a definite goal time and plan to get there, your body doesn't know how to make that happen. I worked hard during that training cycle. I did speed work at the appropriate pace to meet my goal, I ran hill repeats to prepare for the hilly course, and I even ran my first-ever tempo run. My hard work paid off when I finished in 22:30, winning my age category and placing 5th in the female division.

Having a goal and a definite plan to get there was my driving force for this race. Knowing what needed to be done and training to do it enabled me to look beyond limitations that I or anyone else had set on me and just focus on the outcome.

Now, 2 years later, it is time for me to start making new running goals. I have tried new events, from the 1500m to a triathlon to a 10 mile race, and all of them have been a unique and exciting experience.

Since I joined the track team at my school this past spring, I have placed my running into the hands of my coach, and no longer have the flexibility that I had when I was self-coached. For this reason, my running goals (for the time being) are not exactly mine and are rooted more in the success of my team rather than individual performance. That being said, here are a few of my long term running goals:

  • Break 20 minutes in the 5k. I have brought my time down from 26:48 to 21:26 in just 2 years and I want to keep pushing myself until I am able to knock that number down to 19:xx.
  • Learn to pace myself. I can nail negative splits in practice workouts, but in race situations my lets get excited and always start off too fast. Someday I hope to be able to start slowly and speed up throughout the course of a race instead of the other way around.
  • Run a marathon. 
  • Qualify for Boston. After a few marathons to acclimate myself to that long distance, I would love to set some time-oriented goals and train for a Boston Qualifying time.
  • Become more accquanited with trail running, maybe even try a few trail races
  • Finish an Ironman triathlon
  • Complete the Dopey Challenge. This seems like such an outrageous feat, but I would love to challenge my body with the task of running 4 tough races on 4 consecutive days. 

These goals will change over time, I'm sure, but this is where I stand right now. First things first: collegiate cross country and track! After college I will have more time to plan my own race schedule and create new goals for myself. 

What are some of your running goals? How do plan to achieve them? Do you have a running bucket list?

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