Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A scary goal?

When I received my next program block from my coach, I noticed that some of my runs called for 10K race pace.  It's been a year and a half that since I set my PB at the 10K distance and I didn't have any recent races that I felt represented what I could do.

Angie suggested taking a minute or two off of my personal best and going from there.

My personal best is 56:33, so I knew almost immediately that I should pick 55:00.

Yet, it scares me.

Logically, I know that it is a very realistic goal.  It is even a goal that I firmly believe I will eventually surpass and possibly blow out of the water.  Eventually.  Yet, putting that down seems like a big deal.  I think part of it is that, until the day I set that personal best of 56:33, I considered a 60 minute 10K to be the ultimate goal.  The goal that I would be forever happy if I could reach.

The day I reached that, and firmly set it to rest, something changed for me.  Prior to that, I had frequently self identified as a "slow runner".  I no longer use that term.  That term limited me and it held me back.  Fast and slow are relative terms anyways, and of little meaning.

Yet, when I set that 55:00 goal, I was afraid.  Afraid that I was setting a scary goal.  The math is simple - if you're Canadian.  It means an average 5:30/km (8:51/mi).  And, while, in the immediate future, it's a race pace for workouts, I have a 10K on the horizon on March 17.  It will be tested very soon.

There's a safety net in calling yourself a slow runner.  Once you state that, it's like telling people not to expect to much of you.  You tell yourself that it's okay not to expect too much of yourself.  It's safe.

I have a history of setting safe goals.  The days I set my PB times on the 5K and 10K distances, I beat my goals by 2:50 and 3:27, respectively - a HUGE amount on short races.  My half mary PB of 2:10 was a day I had set out to maybe, possibly run it in 2:15, having recently changed my goal from 2:30.

So, 55:00?  Scary or safe?  Definitely scary.  The day I ran 56:33, I executed an almost perfect race and ran the fastest I possibly could on that day.  Yet, that day was a year and a half ago.  I was still a relatively new runner (still am now in many ways).  I had done no speed work leading up to it.  So, scary?  Yes.  Achievable?  That too.  Safe?  I don't think so, but I'll have a better idea once I start doing some work at race pace and seeing how it feels.

Sometimes your goals should scare you.  Acknowledge it and shoot for it anyways.


  1. Scary?!? That's not scary..it should be motivating since you know it is completely achievable. Scary would be setting the goal and then stating that if you don't achieve it you will do something publicly embarrassing.. That would be scary..don't do this...I speak from experience.

    Good luck!!

  2. Wow!
    I just read your blog for the first time via Scott (get back to work Scott)
    What really struck me is the use of "i'm a slow runner". I ALawys say that about myself.
    Thank you for your perspective!
    This is a bit scary...I running a 20 mile trail race in Moab this weekend.
    I've had the "safe" idea in my mind of 6 hrs to finish....I'm not going to put out there that I will finish in 5!
    Thanks a ton for this post!

  3. A goal should be a bit scary. You never know what you can accomplish till you do more. It will be there for you, till the day you're there for it.

  4. goals should be a tiny bit scary, because then you know you're pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and growing as an athlete. you can do it...i know you can!

  5. I haven't set goals in my old age. I met a lot of my goals in my younger days. When I took up triathlons (in my mid-50s) I was just happy to train. The training was more rewarding for me than the races. However, I should set a goal for myself. Just to make things interesting.