It’s the end of my second week of training, and I’m feeling stronger than I usually do at this stage in the game. Maybe that’s because of cellular memory, and my muscles and cardiovascular system simply remember how to perform under the stress of long distance running? Or maybe it’s because I’m starting out this season about 8 lbs lighter than in previous seasons? Or perhaps my newly adopted vegan diet is optimal for my body, for this type of exercise? All good topics to explore, but not what I want to talk about today.
Today I want to share how I set training goals each time I head out for a run.
Every training run serves a purpose. For example, the ultimate objective of today’s Long Run was to build endurance. Like I said, it’s only Week Two so my long run distance was only 6 miles. Every week I’ll add about 10%, or 1-1.5 miles, to my long runs until I’m completing one 10-11 mile run per week. So the objective today was to build endurance, and the goal was to complete 6 miles. But running is a mental sport, and your body can do more than your mind thinks it can. For this reason, I always break it down further, when I’m setting my daily training goals.
My Long Run course today was hilly. So I set two goal levels for the day:
- Level 1 — Complete 6 miles, with walking intervals on the hills.
- Level 2 — Complete 6 miles, without stopping.
My Level 1 goal is always what my mind thinks I can do. I determine what I expect to be able to complete, based on performance at that point in the training schedule. No matter how hard it is or how tired my legs feel, I pledge to achieve no less that my Level 1 goal. Of course, I listen to my body and don’t push through injury, etc. But if I have to run with my heart when my legs give out, I am determined to do so in order to reach my Level 1 goal.
I set the Level 2 goal higher. Level 2 is for my bad-ass days. For days when my body feels unstoppable. For days when I slip into machine mode, legs like pistons, lungs and heart in sync, strong. These are the days when I want to keep going, shatter my own training records. But it’s important to stick to a training schedule because the extra effort spent in a moment of bad-assness will come back and kick that bad ass of mine later in the week. So, I set a Level 2 goal for days when I feel able to reach past what I believe I’m capable of, but the goal allows me to do it in a controlled way.
Every day I run, whether it’s a tempo run, track repeats, or a long run, I set two levels of training goals.
Today, I’m happy to share that I hit my Level 2 goal of completing 6 miles without stopping, without walking up the hills, in total bad-ass fashion. Whoot!
What about you? Do you have strategies like setting goals each time you go for a run?