“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda
Goal setting has been a major factor in my personal and professional life for as long as I can remember. I stopped generating New Year’s resolutions since the concept of SMART goals provides a different level of self-accountability. My self-accountability is increased by sharing yearly goals with trusted mentors who conduct ‘check-ins’ to see how much progress has been made throughout the year.
One of my most adventurous 2018 goals was to: Run 4 Half Marathons. I say this was an adventurous goal for me since the most half marathons I had ever run in a year was two (2017 Nashville Rock and Roll Half Marathon and 2017 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon). Neither of these races produced a finish time that would awe other runners. In fact, my times from these races were considerably slower than times I’ve run before. So much for getting better with repetition.
My fix to improve my running times and training routine was to challenge myself to run more races which would lead to more training sessions.
Again, my written goal was to run ‘4 Half Marathons’. I didn’t initially write down specific races, cities or dates where I would accomplish this goal. I utilized the concept of ‘4 Half Marathons’ as my base goal and then worked my way in reverse to identify when and where I would run these races.
Things I considered when selecting the specific races were:
- Travel distance
- Drive or fly
- Course conditions (hills, pavement, gravel, bridges, etc.)
- Registration costs
- Hotel proximity to event
- Things to do after the race
These factors helped me identify races I could train for and reach in a reasonable amount of time (fly or drive). I also used these factors to pick races that gave me some down time from training without feeling guilty. Spacing these out allowed for full recovery from one race to the next and provided time away from running to recharge mentally and physically.
My reverse goal process allowed me to select, register, train and complete the following half marathons in 2018:
- 2018 New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon (February)
- 2018 Nashville Rock and Roll Half Marathon (April)
- 2018 Boston, GA. Mini-Marathon (October)
- Personal best time: 2:13 (2 hours, 13 minutes)
- 2018 Amelia Island, FL. Reindeer Half Marathon (December)
I stayed away from summer races because of heat and humidity. I still trained over the summer but didn’t feel any pressure to work on speed, just logged miles early in the morning to beat the heat. The races earlier in the year allowed me to gain my running focus while also enjoying two cities with cultural and entertainment districts. A benefit of running larger races is the music, food and beer you get to enjoy once you cross the finish line. Hanging out on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville was my reward for completing those races.
The Boston, GA Mini-Marathon was close by and I heard great things about the course (flat and fast). It lived up to the billing of a fast course since I was able to run my fastest half marathon time EVER during this race. The funny thing is I was using this race as a training session—cool weather and a flat course provided me with a perfect opportunity to push myself. It didn’t hurt that my training program had increased my weekly miles and endurance leading up to this race.
The Amelia Island Reindeer Half Marathon was selected simply because of a flat running surface and I had never been there before. Running races allows me to travel and explore, so this was the perfect last race to meet my stated goal of 4 Half Marathons.
I was able to meet this 2018 goal by challenging myself with an increased race load (for me) and then working in reverse to identify/select/train/complete the races needed. This was a major upgrade in my running program since I finally put a different level of accountability on myself.
Benefits of meeting this goal:
- Satisfaction of meeting a written goal
- Increased speed
- Increased endurance
- More travel
- Hanging out with friends
- Lost 7 pounds!
Working on my 2019 goals right now—thinking about 6 Half Marathons in 2019. Will leverage my reverse goal process to determine the races needed to meet this goal.
How can working backwards (reverse) help with your 2019 goal setting process? How much progress have you made on your 2019 goals?
FYI–I finalized my goals this week!