Sunday, April 03, 2011

On setting goals - Mann macht und Gott lacht?

Ok.  Deep breath, here goes.  Setting goals.  For Boston, and onwards.

On this morning's 8 miler I was trying to figure out what I find so hard about setting goals, and why I find it so hard.  And the truth of the matter is not that I find it hard to set goals.  I know what I want to achieve.  But I'm afraid I might not achieve them.  And that's why I don't like to tell people.  Like I can just have my secret goal, play it cool, and then do a great big fistpump if I do achieve it.  And don't have to deal with it in public if I don't.  Instinctively, I feel like the kid in the playground - if I put it out there what I want to do and fail to achieve that, will you think less of me?  Oh, I know that is cr*p but still - I think that's what lies underneath my fear of outlining what I really want.

But then all the self-help / motivational / inspirational / St. Oprah philosophy that I somewhat shamefacedly have started to get into says that you have to put your goal out there, to be accountable, to make it real.  Building in all sorts of caveats is a way of detouring from your goal.  Keep it simple - focus.

So, my goal for Boston.  I've played around with different kinds of goals - time goals, experience goals, effort goals.  My coach has never messed around.  Right when we started, early in December, and I ran my rough and ready first 2 miles on the treadmill, she told me what my goal was.  A 3:40 finish.  Yup.  That was scary, which is why I haven't put it out there any earlier.  That would be a 5 minute and 47 second PR on a harder course.  Hard.  All through the months of December, January, February and March, this goal seemed to dance in front of my eyes.  Really? Me?  She thinks I can do this?  Only last night I was driving myself nuts, comparing my training notes from this training cycle to my (entirely different) training cycles for London and Berlin, and worrying that I was not as fast as I was then. 

But today I got to thinking.  Despite the fact that I BQ'ed in Berlin (and faced some pretty big DNF demons along the course) my best race ever was London. Why?  Because - shortly before the start - someone I had just met told me not to be coy about it - to go out hard and hammer it as best I could.  I had not trained all this time, he told me, to just be conservative.  Be smart, by all means, but leave it all out there.  And just like that, I let go of my old racing strategy (which had always been to start slowly and see if I could pick it up, which I rarely did) and I hammered it.  And well, I did hammer it, right up until mile 25 when it hammered me.  But that was fine.  I was always fine with my time, and my missed BQ.  I had left it out there, there was nothing more I could have done.  I had focus, I committed to my goal and I went for it.

So, my friends - I'm out there and I'm doing it.  I'm going for a 3:40.  I have a race strategy - thank you Coach! - and a plan.  But more than that, I have an attitude.  There are things I can't control about the race - weather, illness, injury, whatever.  But I can control how I'm going to go in.  And I'm going into this balls against the wall, my friends.  All out.  I am giving my goal all I've got, all I've put in, all I've trained for.  2 weeks to go - bring it on!

21 comments:

lizzie lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lizzie lee said...

You entered in my brain and copied a post I have for Idaho. We're so much alike.

Last week I went to Birch Bay 30K with a goal of not to exceed 3:17. I wanted to post it in my FB status, but didn't dare to publicize it. What would people think of me if I don't achieve it? That I am an arrogant that think I could do something I can't? I did 3:16, that sure I was of my training, but that crap, as you call it, is all over our heads, who knows why. My former boss uses in all situations: Who cares what people think?

I wish you the best in Boston, 3:40 or less, but if you don't get it I will love you the same, I will admire you the same, and I will respect you the same.

Much love across the Atlantic,

sincere-lee
lizzie lee

PS: I am also going all out and against the wall to ID. 4:30. There you have my goal...

Amanda@runninghood said...

Bravo! This is the best goal ever...to give it all you've got. I struggle with this. I've run few races where I feel like I gave it all I had...truly left it all on the course. That is my goal...I've been thinking about it all day how I came home from my race feeling like I had it in me to do another one at the same pace....I want to be able to have guts when I run/race and not stay in the comfort zone. Thanks for your reflections and honest words as always Petra. You always get me thinking. I love this about you.

Amanda@runninghood said...

Oh, and YOu've got this Petra! So excited for you!

Mike said...

Well done, by putting it out there it will give that motivation you might need during a decision point in the race.

Best of luck and hopefully the weather will be good so you can achieve your goal.

Running and living said...

I think this is hard for everyone, setting goals and making them public. I made myself write my long term goals on the blog, as means of facing this fear of failure - not in my eyes, but in the eyes of others. And I tell you, it was hard, but it has freed me somehow. I feel I worked harder and raced harder as a result. Life is short, don't play it safe and don't worry about failure or about what others might think if you fail. At least, this is what I am trying to tell myself.
Good luck in Boston! The course is a mother, rolling all the way, even the first few miles that are deemed as downhill by everyone, but the crowds are awesome and you've trained hard. Good luck!

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

SAFE TRAVELS!!! and I have to agree with you. I don't set goals, but like daily challenges. Fear of failure in the long run I guess. I like to give myself the benefit of the doubt.

Paige said...

You go girrll! And I will just have to keep explaining to our friends how amazing your times are (as if they know the difference between 3:40 and 4:15!!!!) You are awesome and well done for putting it out there. Good luck and loads of chi coming your way...xx

Jill said...

I'm having blogger issues, testing this out before I leave a "real" comment. :)

Jill said...

Ok, back...man Bloggers HATE my work computer or something. Ha.

You've done the work, Chica, now it's time to shine! You will, it's inside you. You and I are such similar breeds - just yesterday I had a conversation with a friend how I hate to disappoint others and how I perform better if I have something beside myself who is happy for me. He told me it was BS and I had to be happy for myself only...and of course there is happiness inside me, but I just perform so much better if I know others are proud of my efforts. But one thing I did learn is that as long as I give it my all and get my nutrition and my pace down from the start, all I can do is what I have inside me.

And you, too! You work with your coach and you get your pace/mile and write that on a little band...I have an excel sheet which calculates the % grade of the hills and can give you a pace/mile accordingly, if you want it (but I'm sure she has one) made precisely for the Boston course. You remember to fuel when you need to and I KNOW you can nail this thing!

And I PROMISE, we will ALL be super proud of you no matter what!!! You just run, you have a blast, and smile the whole way...and I'll be smiling with you!!!!!

Lots of love to you!!!

misszippy said...

I like your attitude turnaround! You have this, I'm telling you! Enjoy your week, relax, and then go get it!

Her Name Is Rio said...

Good for you! After all you've been through, it is time for you to DO THIS! We're all here rooting for you!

Fran said...

Great goal Petra and you are going to reach it too: you believe in it, your coach believes in it and I believe in it.

In three weeks I'm doing my first half marathon (I'm of the category turtle runners). I have only one goal this time: finish it! After that I will set a goal for my next half which is already planned in October in Amsterdam.

Boston watch out: Petra's coming and she's going to rock you!

Alisa said...

You got this girl!

Looking forward to seeing you out here this summer. If you are staying with Jen/Zach they are about a mile from me now---hooray!

I can't run at a 3:40 marathon pace but maybe we can still all go for a run albeit slow =).

jen said...

I'm so excited for you! I'm proud of you for making an ambitious goal and going for it. You are going to do great - this training cycle has been like no other and you are in spectacular shape. You got this! I can't wait to hear all about it. Enjoy every step of the way!! :)

Tara said...

You're going to do great! I am so excited for you and will be cheering you on from California! :)

Kristin Tarr said...

Freaking LOVE this post! Leave it all out there sister, it will be such a great experience no matter what. I'm glad you have a race strategy and are putting everything you got into it. You're going to do so great!

marty said...

all the very best, petra. will be looking out for your result on monday. run strong and enjoy! may the force be with you

Emily said...

I love the attitude! I will be out there cheering you on, even when you can't see me.

jeanne said...

You are my idol. Kick ass, take names, break heads. And kiss Boston for me! I am with you in spirit. :)

Geoffrey said...

Congratulations on Boston, Petra--it looks like you ran a great race on a memorable day.