Setting SMART targets

smartA wise coach (Andy) once said to me that when setting running targets for yourself you should not have just one goal but at least three goals related to your main goal.  Imagine if my only goal for the Milton Keynes marathon this weekend was to achieve a Sub 4h 45m time but I had to queue for a portaloo for 10 mins on the course and came in at 4h 46m…I would not have met my goal for the marathon.  I would have underachieved and would have to wait another six months before having the chance to hit that goal – in the meantime feeling devastated that I had essentially failed at what I had set out to do.

My Marathon goal is to hit a Sub 4h 45m in the upcoming Milton Keynes marathon on Monday.  Working by Andy’s rule I have broken this down into Gold, Silver and Bronze goals for the day.  Imagine getting to mile 22 and knowing that I no longer could make up the time to cross the finish hitting my 4h 45m target.  I am certain that my body would be telling my head that there was no point anymore, that I had already missed my target.  However, with my Silver goal at 4h 50m and Bronze goal as a Sub 5h there is much more chance of me hitting one of these targets and not feeling that I had ‘failed’ my task.  All three should be achievable with the training I have undertaken since the start of the year.  My Gold goal being my main target for the race, although essentially I would be happy to achieve any of these goals on Monday.

When setting goals try and stick to the SMART goal setting method.  Make sure that your goal is very specific and that you decide where, when, what, how and why as part of your target.  Make it measurable…how are you going to judge if you have achieved it?  Do you have everything in place to make it achievable?  Is it realistic?  (No matter how much I would love a 2h 30m marathon it’s just not a realistic target for me!!!)  When are you going to set as the official ‘deadline’ for your goal? – make it timebound.

IMG_7124My current goal: I will achieve a PB of at least 6 minutes (5hr marathon) at the Milton Keynes marathon on 6th May 2013.

Along the way this was broken into smaller, bite-size chunks to help me achieve faster times and to run greater distances (eg; to break a 27m 5k (which I did in February) and to cover 22 miles in a training run).  I also have longer term goals to work towards (I would like to break 4h 30m in a marathon by the end of the year and am hoping to enter Mablethorpe marathon which runs in October), with the MK marathon acting as a stepping stone for the next goal on my list.

Without a clear goal lined up, it will be difficult to improve and could result in you just ambling along without any real direction to improving or achieving your full capabilities as a runner. I have found over the past two years that regular, updated, clear goals have helped to keep me focused and get me to today…five days before marathon number two!

Making the plan work

So, here was the plan for yesterday. Again, mainly followed, but not 100%…

Day Breakfast Lunch Snacks Dinner Exercise
Tuesday Egg and beans on one slice of toast 2x graze boxes Apple Pesto chicken salad Speedwork with Group four at running club

BREAKFAST:

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The first time I can ever remember having a mini ‘cooked breakfast’ that I’ve made for myself!  As planned, one scrambled egg and baked beans on one slice of toast.

LUNCH:

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(I thought it was carrots on the cards for lunch…got it wrong…it was supposed to be Graze boxes today!  Five yummy carrots with a smidge of almond butter for my lunch.  I prefer the carrots without the almond butter though I’ve decided.

SNACKS:

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Yummy apple!

DINNER:

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The tiniest chicken breast we possibly had!  Can you see it?  Just behind the lettuce!  Dan put this together whilst I was at running club.  Pesto chicken with salad was what was on the menu for tonight (he had BBQ sauce instead of pesto).  I thought I had more salad left than just peppers and lettuce but Dan assured me that I didn’t so I also added a bread roll to bulk out my meal a little.

EXERCISE:

I was supposed to be completing a speedwork session with Group 4 tonight but wimped out at the last minute and joined Group 5.  I knew that I could still push myself as much as I wanted during the actual speedwork but then that I wouldn’t have to worry about overdoing it on the run out and the run back again.

Rob was taking the session last night and we began by running about a mile out to where there are some crossroads in the middle of the local park.  I found the mile run there very easy and was a long way infront of the others, which gave me a confidence boost and reassured me that I was actually running in the right group by being in group 4.

The crossroads in the park is at the bottom of a dip, so whichever route you take away from the crossroads you are heading uphill.  Two of the uphills are significantly steeper than the others.  Rob set us to run 100 metres out in one direction, then back to the crossroads, out in the next direction working round clockwise and back and continue until we had completed all four crossroad routes.  The aim was for everybody to push it at 80% of 5k race pace.  I was supposed to push it at 75% of 5k race pace as I was the only one with a marathon this coming weekend.

The idea was to complete three reps, with a 200 metre slow walk between each as recovery.

I found myself in the front few of 15 people each rep we did which wasn’t surprising as I normally train with the group above.  However, my pace hovered around the 8mm mark for most of it…not sure this counts as 75% of race pace as my PB for 5k is at 8:40mm!  The first rep we completed I covered in 6m 44s.  The second was a little faster in 6m 40s and I didn’t catch the time of my third one but this was a good 10s or so slower.

Running the reps made me concerned at how slow in comparison I was to the group 5s at speedwork.  I know I’ve been training a marathon so my speed pace will have suffered but I spoke to Rob about my concerns on the way back.  He gave me what I think was supposed to be a compliment when he said that I didn’t have anything to worry about – even though I’d been marathon training and running at less efforts than the others tonight I still always came back in the top few and looked much less battered than they did!  Erm, thanks Rob!!!  He advised that after the Ultra, I should knock down my long mileage to no more than 13miles at the weekend and race some of the EMGP race series we have coming up, which was basically what I was planning anyway.   He seemed to think that my pace would return quick enough and if played right I could have a Summer of PBs ahead of me…FINGERS CROSSED!

Whilst we were talking I realised at one point we were a long way ahead of the rest of the group, despite travelling at an easy 9:10mm pace back.  I really need a group 4.5 for me to transition up to the next group!!!