Goal setting is one of those interesting subjects. Probably worth a podcast at some point. But I thought two weeks out from Christchurch Marathon weekend, let's dive into it. I always like constructing some sort of race plan the week before which means reflecting on how training has gone over the last 8-10 weeks and where I feel my strengths will be, come race day. It also means having a collection of major and micro goals.
Major goals being overall performance and micro being smaller, in race goals.
I like to make a list of controllable and uncontrollable situations or outcomes first.
For example. I can control what time I leave the house to drive to the event, but I can't control the traffic. So I factor that in giving myself enough time if something goes wrong on my way there. From there I can remove as much pressure as I can and fully concentrate on my event morning process. Goal one is achieved.
For many of you three months ago you may have set a goal of running a Half Marathon in under two hours or a Marathon in three and a half. Great goals, but very much rely on external factors. The weather is a prime example of an uncontrollable situation. If it is sideways raining and 60km an hour headwinds. Chances are that "A" goal is going to be a push. Have you failed? No.
See, here is how I look at goal setting heading into a race.
Goal A... On a perfect day feeling absolutely amazing, the body responds and nothing goes wrong. In my career, I have hit this only a handful of times. Where the world lined up and I ran out of my skin feeling like superman. This goal is often time-based. If I have prepared well, in good fitness, and do I think I can run a PB.
Goal B... This goal is a, "I will be happy with the outcome". For me, often effort-based. If the day isn't going well, did I run my guts out and push everyone else in the race to their best. Whether I beat them or not, I did everything I could with what I had today. Often Goal B swings into action about halfway, requires a bigger gear and a whole lot of suck it up. But if I have given it absolutely everything I can walk away happy and proud of my effort.
Goal C... Goal C becomes like a stage race. Often comes into play early on, when my body is not responding. I think about this goal as building the race. I know within the 1st km if it’s my day or not. I'll prepare here with landmarks, small wins on course. Often if I resort to this I can pull myself up into Goal B. Small things like concentrating in the moment. Run one more kilometer, hold steady, reassess and keep fighting.
These line up with the big goals, they start the day before. Mealtimes, bedtimes, organization. Race morning, and then into the race. In the 10 minutes before the gun, I like to take myself away, do some breathing work and drive into myself to "control what I can". Get the first kilometer out of the way, stay relaxed, listen to what I am feeling and build the race. Layer on layer, stay positive, be relaxed, make choices based on my strengths, not brain explosion reactions.
My best advice,
1. Set a time goal, but don't be disheartened if you're training hasn't gone to plan or the uncontrollable and external race day factors don't line up.
2. Set an effort-based goal. Based on where you are at, and how you are feeling.
3. Set micro-goals on course, find landmarks every 3-5km, and figure out how long it should take you to get through each one. Take time to pat yourself on the back if you tick these off. Positivity is a powerful thing.
4. Plan, plan, and plan. Your body feels all stress as stress. If you are stressed about getting there, warming up, without a plan, you are wasting precious stress reserves.
Been a pleasure helping you all get ready and all the best for event day.