**This is a longer post. Good thing this is T.O.L. Thursday. Stick around until the end for a Halloween playlist!**
When training for a race it’s inevitable that someone will ask you, “what’s your goal time?” Whether they actually want to know your goal or are just asking to be nice, the question is bound to come up. If you’re someone like me who is reserved, cautious, and usually negative-nancy (just being honest!), you usually don’t tell people your true goals. That happens to be true for most things in my life.
“I just want to get a B on the exam.” Lie, you want an A.
“I don’t know if I’ll get the job, but I don’t care either way.” Lie, you want the job and will care if you don’t get it.
“I will be happy if I get a 20 people to come to my event.” Lie, you want 50. Anything less will be a disappointment.
I guess these are considered “white lies”?? Yet I don’t tell them to trick or hurt other people, I tell them to trick myself. I tell them so if I don’t meet my real goal, I won’t feel bad. But I can’t hide the fact that I’m also a people pleaser. It seems odd, but by telling people a goal I know I can beat, I think I can automatically impress them. This sounds very superficial when I write it out, but I think when it comes to running goals, some of my actions stem from cross-country in high school. My coach told me a goal for every meet, and when I didn’t accomplish it (which was more often than not) I felt bad. It didn’t help that he wasn’t a very supportive coach so he got a little pissed off too.
For my first marathon, when the few people I told asked me my goal I used the “this is my first marathon! My goal is just to finish” response. Technically, it was kind of true. I was battling a beast I had never experienced so setting a goal sounded too crazy. But I did have a goal…I just didn’t tell anyone the truth. Not even my parents, which is big considering I tell them everything. I told them I was aiming for 4 hours 15 minutes so they could plan their spectating points accordingly. Deep down inside I wanted 4 hours. I don’t know why I had that time exactly but I thought it sounded “respectable.”
Looking back I don’t know why I didn’t tell them (or other people) my real goal time. My parents almost missed seeing me cross the finish line because I told them it would take me longer than it did. I ended up finishing in 4 hours and 4 seconds. Quick side story: I joke that had I known my exact time during the last .2 miles I probably wouldn’t have waved to the crowds and instead sprinted a little more- ha! I don’t run with a watch, didn’t set Run Keeper on my phone and (stupidly) didn’t look at the clock time when I crossed the start line. I think it was better that way, though.
All of this to say, I honestly (very honestly) don’t have a goal time for the NYC Marathon. Why? For starters, and probably most importantly, I didn’t do any speed work. Other than a few 800 pickups on the treadmill, I didn’t train to be faster than last time. I knew from the beginning that getting a PR wasn’t going to be a goal of mine. But there are also some unknowns and conditional factors that will influence race day. Obviously every race has unknowns, but the ones in my mind are pretty likely to affect my time.
1) There are over 60,000 runners. My previous marathon was not even half that and I started in one of the first few corrals. I’ve read race reviews of NYC that say the first 4-5 miles are especially slow because of the congestion.
2) There are hills. Florida does NOT have hills. We do have bridges but there aren’t any close enough to me to practice often. Yes, I could have upped the incline on the treadmill but I didn’t. My choice and I’ll pay the price.
3) The weather. I know I run better in the colder temperatures, but I’m talking 60 degrees, not 40. It’s a lame excuse, but I think even the weather will affect my speed…but hopefully for the better!
4) It’s a destination race. For my first marathon I only had to spend one night at a hotel (which was very close to the start), and I brought all of my own food. Tampa is only one hour from Disney so it made race logistics easy. This time it’s different. I’m flying up 3 days before the race and eating out for meals. Not to mention I’m going to my favorite city and I want to explore for a bit. Expending extra energy isn’t the smartest thing but, c’mon, I love New York too much to sit in a hotel room the entire time.
5) It’s the experience. Chances are I’ll run another marathon in my lifetime, but who knows about running New York again. I don’t want to remember this race as the time I died trying to get a PR. There will be
other flatter courses for that in the future. I’m young, I’m not gunning for Boston yet, so the only reason I would want to finish faster is so I can catch the end of the Eagles game that day. True story…they will be playing as I’m running.
These could all very easily be viewed as “excuses” but I’m very content with my decision to just go out there and run. Whether I finish in 4 hours and 3 seconds or 4 hours and 50 minutes, I can confidently say I will be happy with myself. Maybe one day I will train for speed, but I’ll reserve that for half marathons for the time being.
As for telling white lies about my goals, it’s something I’m working on. Part of me thinks I’m just superstitious and believe I’m more likely to achieve a goal if I keep it a secret. Either way, instead of stating a fake goal for my next race, I think telling people (if they ask) that I have an A goal, B goal and C goal is a better option. Do you tell other people your goals?
Now, if you’ve survived this long post, here is the playlist I used for my Halloween themed spin class last night! I brought some dark chocolate KIND bars for my riders as a healthy post-workout/Halloween snack. Who says chocolate isn’t good fuel?
Here’s the link to the playlist on Spotify!
Talk to you from New York!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
If we can set the expectations lower, it can take some of the pressure off. When you tell someone what you really want, it can make sooo much anxiety. I think it is okay to keep your real goal to yourself, but I guess it all depends.
No matter…you are going to be great and I am so happy and excited for you! Rock it out! XOXO
It’s a tricky thing trying to balance setting realistic goals and pushing our limits (aka reaching for the moon). On one hand we want to achieve the goals but on the other, we don’t want to sell ourselves short.
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie says
You are going to do great! Taking the time to enjoy the marathon and the whole weekend in NYC will make the experience so much better than focusing so much on your goals.
Exactly! I treated the weekend as two separate events: Enjoying NYC and the race. It helped so much and I was able to enjoy every part!
Totally relate to this. I’m the exact same way with goals. I set them lower than I’m capable so I don’t have to deal with feeling like I’m letting people down when I don’t reach my “A” goal that I know I want deep down. That being said, I think your goals for NYC are PERFECT! Have the best time and soak in the entire experience- that’s a huge part of what destination races are about, after all. Especially one like the NYC Marathon :)
Couldn’t have said it any better. This weekend I kept reminding myself that this was a destination race and part of that means enjoying all of the surrounding events.
Emily @ Sweets and Beets says
That was so sweet of you to bring KIND bars for your spin class! Love a good themed spin class :) As far as goals are concerned, I totally respect you for setting goals “privately.” I think it’s great to have (and express) goals but be realistic with yourself (and others) as well. You’re going to kill it!
They loved the KIND bars too :)
Jen Rawson, RD (@PrettyLilGrub) says
I’m doing the same thing, going in with no goal time. I mean it’s also my first marathon but I just want to be happy at the end and not disappointed by not making a time.
Setting a goal time can leave us with disappointment in the end. Which is crazy because just crossing the finish line is an amazing accomplishment!
Amanda @ .running with spoons. says
I love your goals :) I think that any kind of expectations can really ruin an experience for us, and when we look back at it later, we find so much to be happy about. Finishing a marathon is a HUGE accomplishment in itself, so no matter what time you finish with, you’re a rock star!
Thanks, Amanda :) I agree…when I set expectations for things (like vacations, Christmas, etc.) I end up focusing more on meeting or exceeding those expectations than I do enjoying the experience.
Rebecca @ MyEagerFeet says
Hey, keep in mind some of us would love to run the same times as you! I know I would kill to run anywhere close to the four hour mark. But I know what you mean about keeping real goals a secret…I tried track in seventh grade and the coaching was awful, and I always felt bad when I couldn’t keep up with the naturally talented kids. Running is so much better when you’re in control of yourself!
I ended up not vein near the 4 hour mark and it totally reaffirmed my belief that the marathon is a beast. Anyone who conquers it, regardless of their time, is incredible.
I am super impressed at your running times! I’ve only just started running but these tips are really going to help me. I think it’s so easy to get caught up on timings etc but actually there are times when this actually is more of a hindrance than a help. The playlist looks fab!
I find that when I run without looking at the clock or my phone, not only do I enjoy the run more, but I feel stronger.