How to set race goals for success

Are you setting race goals which are realistic?

I don’t mean easy, I mean goals which are in sync with the rest of your life.

Setting and achieving a hard goal is immensely satisfying. Being outside your comfort zone on your way to achieving that goal is a good thing. It is what makes us grow as individuals, as it resets your subconscious bar as to what is possible. The confidence you take from achieving a huge goal can have a positive influence on all aspects of your life.

BUT, you have to be careful not to set goals which are too hard or too far removed from the realms of reality. There is no point entering a 100km race for example if your life is too busy to train more than 5 hours per week. Training for an unrealistic goal quickly becomes a burden, and your chances of making it to the start line fit enough to have a successful and enjoyable day are small.

My advice when it comes to picking your race goals is to weigh up everything that is going on in your life, work out how much time you have available to train each week, and set a goal which is in line with that amount of time.

For example, if work is busy and stressful, and family life is also busy with weekend sporting commitments and the likes, you might only have 2 hours available for your long run most weeks. If that is the case you would be better to train for a 20km event, or maybe even a 30km event, and make your goal to get a PB at that distance or perhaps to finish in the top x% of the field. This would still be stretching your comfort zone and helping your subconscious brain expand the horizon of what it thinks is possible.

Sure, in these same circumstances, you could “brute force” your way to the finish line of a 100km race, but at what cost?  Is it going to be enjoyable? Is it going to be satisfying in terms of the result you achieve? and more importantly, are you still going to be in one piece afterwards?


Don’t compromise on sleep   

The easiest variable to change or manipulate when you are struggling for time, is usually sleep. Getting up at 4:30am to run a few mornings a week after only 5 ½ hours sleep is doable in the short term, but it is not sustainable in the long term, and it isn’t actually good for you, even for 1 night.

If you haven’t already heard this talk by sleep scientist Matt Walker, then have a listen now. It has some very scary stats on what a lack of sleep does to your body and brain.


Your goals can change as your life changes

Your goals can obviously change every year, or even multiple times during the year if your life circumstances change. My aim isn’t to try and stop you from setting the bar high, it is just to try and stop you from setting the bar too high.

You will get much more enjoyment and satisfaction from succeeding at your goals rather than failing.

I’m sure  you’ve heard the saying that People normally overestimate what they can achieve in 6 months but underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years.

If you want to run a marathon, or a 100km race or a miler, give yourself time and pick a year in which most of life’s stars line up to help  you achieve it.