Setting Goals. How Do You Do It?

Setting Goals.  How Do You Do It?

Setting goals is a topic of conversation that takes place constantly in the endurance world. Make one mention about a race you are doing and the first question is: What is your goal? Participating in endurance sports for the past 8 years I have been setting goals constantly but last night I was asked by Karen what my goals were for Rocky Raccoon 100 on Saturday. It caught me by surprise because I only have one goal. Why any person would be setting goals for one race unless those goals are to finish healthy with a time. If you are asking me about setting goals it is typically about a goal time and for that I can see only one time being set and not multiple times. She made mention of A, B and C goals and as hard as I tried I could not come up with A, B and C goals because my brain works like this: A Goal – the only goal I should have. The only goal I should be reaching for. People refer to this as a stretch goal but I do not understand that. Either I have trained for this time or I have not so setting a 'stretch' goal can only lead to two results:

  1. Failure but with a caveat. The person setting the stretch goal can say: Well I fell short of my stretch goal but……. It is sort of safety net against failure.
  2. Failure with lingering consequences. The person setting a stretch goal that they believe they can achieve can be setting themselves up for a mental beating if they do not come close to this number.

B Goal - This seems to be the most realistic goal when it falls into the scheme of setting A, B and C goals. By setting a B goal a person can say that they accomplished something if they hit this goal but again the question is did you train for this number or did you not train for this number. If you did then, again, this is the only goal that you need. C Goal – This is the everybody gets a trophy mentality. I did not hit the first two goals but I have to feel accomplished so set a THIRD goal and if I hit that I can say that I achieved this goal. Huh? What's the point? I am a competitive person and for me there are only two outcomes: Success or Failure. It is very black and white for me when it comes to racing and so I have one goal and one goal only and sometimes it is not a specific goal. For example, at Ironman Chattanooga my goal was to run a sub-4 hour marathon. I set a 53 minute PR at the Ironman distance and that was a great feeling but I failed to reach the 3:59:59 mark for the marathon and thus I did not achieve my goal. This means that I will be working harder than I did in 2014 when I start Ironman Maryland training because once again the goal for that race will be a sub-4 hour marathon. Back to my goal for Rocky Raccoon 100 on Saturday, I have but one goal to achieve. That goal is to run sub-24 hours. I do not care if it is 19:04 or 23:59:59. I have trained my body and mind to break 24 hours and that is the goal. If somebody were to ask me for a second goal it would be to get home by kickoff of the Super Bowl. Nothing else matters beyond breaking 24 hours. If I fail to break that number then I have failed and when I begin training for Coldwater Rumble 100 in 2016 I will have to work harder so that I can be in a position to break 24 hours. As you can tell I do not look at failure as the end all be all, but rather the start. If I buried my head and took my ball and went home every time I failed then I would not even be attempting these races because I have more failures on my belt than successes. Failure gives me the opportunity to asses and analyze my training and make changes that will help me get stronger. For example, when I trained for Lake Martin 100 I did not include any speed work and just trained in Z1-Z2 the entire 18 weeks and despite the conditions managed to finish in 27:53 despite having a sub-24 hour goal. The Rocky Raccoon 100 training incorporated speed work on a weekly basis along with running on trails plus strength and core training. I also added in flexibility and balance work to help me get stronger so that when the going gets tough and it will my body will not breakdown as quickly as it did a year ago. I do not know what the day will bring when the clock counts down at Rocky Raccoon but I can tell you that I will take every step along that course with one goal and one vision in mind. Break 24 hours and not accept anything else.

What Do You Do When Setting Goals?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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