The Importance of Goals When Training for a Race

I am just like everyone else in the world – I need to be motivated by some internal or external quest to get me moving toward the achievement of a particular goal. Whether it is buying a new car, getting a new job, or running a 10-k, the task of setting goals is the most important first step in the journey.

When I think back to when I first started running over 2 years ago, my running goals were not well defined. At that point it was not about what race I was going to run or at what pace. It was simply to get my fat butt into better shape. Looking back on that, I would say that it was a pretty loose goal with very little definition. I am actually surprised I have been running since that time as many times before I had set out on an exercise path to lose weight and failed. The only thing that kept me going was joining a Running Room 10-K clinic and the friends I was making in that clinic. I was not however signed up for a race at that point.

Shoot forward a couple of weeks into the clinic something changed. I found myself having an easier go of the actual mechanics of running and was starting to really enjoy spending time huffing and puffing my way around Calgary. I also was able to secure a bib for one of Alberta’s largest and most popular races, Melissa’s Road Race 10-K. Things really changed at that point. I was now super motivated to train and I had a goal to finish. The sheer fact of having this goal was so powerful, I remember one training run where it was basically a torrential downpour but I went out anyway as there was nothing that was going to stop me from being in the best shape possible for the race. Race day came and I had so much fun and was so proud to finish it. I am not sure if I would still be running today had it not been for the race day goal I had.

Having learned a valuable lesson from that experience, all my training from that point forward (and everything in my life for that matter) is goal orientated. Each training run has a goal or objective associated with it. For example, on my speed day, I go out with the objective to run a certain number of repeats at a very specific pace. Each of these objectives are driving me towards a particular time goal at a particular goal race. I record each objective in my Garmin watch using the training feature and carry around a 3 X 5 index card with the race and my goal time written on it and read it twice a day. I find this really focuses my efforts and pushes me towards achievement of that goal every day. Without these goals I would not be a runner today.