Use Race Day Goals to Fuel Long Term Success

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I have written before about the fact that I am motivated by a challenge. When I set a goal and work towards it I get more and more motivated the closer I get. That works well for me, but not all people respond to goals and challenge the same way.  If you are just getting started running or stepping up your running to a new level you need to think about how to best keep yourself motivated. Are you the type of person that needs to set a challenging time goal and work yourself non-stop until you get there? Or are you the type of person that would be stressed by that pressure and not respond positively.

Today I want to give some of you in the second camp some options to consider. I have been contacted by a lot of people that have signed up for the Historic Haunt that have never done a 5K before. That fact is very exciting for me because Run Richmond is about trying to introduce running to more people. So if this is your first 5K or maybe you are moving up to a 10K for the first time let me give you some advice about goals.
We all want to be successful in our endeavors. Something that can be as painful and exhausting as working out can be really hard to keep excited about if we don’t enjoy some successes. It will be important for you to find some kind of win or goal that you can make sure you focus on to keep the positive vibes flowing. The biggest mistake new runners make is running the first 1/2 mile too fast. You can literally blow your goal time in the first 5 minutes of the race is you aren’t careful. So one easy goal could be to set you a pace that you want to maintain for the first 1/2 mile and keep that pace at all cost NO MATTER WHAT.  That morning you will likely have some nervous energy, or runners high or whatever you want to call it. You will feel good and people will take off fast and you will follow blindly if you don’t have a plan. Figure out what your plan is and STICK TO IT.  If you would like some help determining a plan for your race send us a message or come out to a group run and we can talk.
Once you have that first important goal set then you can start looking at other goals that will make you work a little harder to meet them. One of the best goals for a race you could set for yourself is to finish with negative splits. That simple means getting faster each mile of the race instead of slower. This will not be possible if you fail at your initial goal. I am going by memory here, but I think the statistic is something like 90% of all distance running world records are made with negative splits. This is the most effective way to run a race. You will have to run more comfortable in the beginning than feels natural and you will need to run harder at the end than you want to. This will give you the best chance to meet that final goal we will set.
That goal is the big one that everyone stresses about and can cause the most frustration to any runner. The goal time to finish the race. My first comment about this would be that if this is your first race the goal should be nothing more than experiencing the day and finishing with your head held high. If you feel it is absolutely necessary for you to set a time goal for your first race make sure it is something realistic for the times you have been getting while training. If you are averaging 35-45 minutes for  a run/walk 5K don’t assume runners high will kick in and you will run the entire race and finish in less than 30 minutes. Set a realistic goal. Something better than you have done in training, but not by a lot.
Failing to meet a time goal on your first race can set you back big time on your main goal of getting healthier thru movement. When it comes down to it the most important thing is that you finished. Give yourself some grace if you don’t meet that goal and learn from your race and work to get it next time. Set those other goals so that you can look back and say I did have some wins. If you set proper goals and work hard during your training it is possible that you will meet or exceed all of them. Then you just get to set new goals that will be even harder.  There is a ton of satisfaction to be had and motivation to be gained by setting goals and conquering them.

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