Since I started running two years ago I'd say I've failed at reaching 50% of my race goals. I like to set goals that are pretty aggressive as I feel like that makes me train harder and helps keep me motivated to get out of bed at 5 a.m. For my first 5k I wanted to come in under 30 minutes and I finished in 31:07.A year later I trained for my first marathon with a pace group from Running Wild for a 4:30 finish and came in at 4:44. (Despite not hitting my goal for 2 marathons now I still did this video on my #1 secret to having the best marathon ever and it's 100% foolproof.)
Two months later, in January 2014, I ran my 2nd half marathon with a 2:15 goal and came in just over 2:14!In May I ran the Gate-to-Gate 4.4 mile run with a goal of a 9 minute pace and came in right on target!Take a look at all of the photos above. Notice anything different in any of them? I sure don't. I look just as happy in every one of them regardless of what my finish time was or if I met my goal or not. Looking back I think I learned more, and became a better runner, after not meeting my goals.
Three Advantage of Failing to Meet Race Goals
- I train harder for the next race. Yes, I could be riding a PR high and put the same amount of energy into training for the next race, but there's something specific about the energy that you get when aiming for a 'comeback' that's missing when you just set a PR last time.
- It forces me to remember why I love to run. When I fail to meet my goal I can find myself slipping into some negative self-talk. I'm never going to be fast enough. I spent all the time training and now I have to do it all over again for a shot of making my PR. I need cupcakes. To get myself out of that trap I start focusing on why I run in the first place. It keeps me healthy and acts as my anti-anxiety medication. These benefits don't go away just because I fail to meet some arbitrary race goal.
- I've become a better runner through trail and error. When I fail to meet a goal I look back and see ways I can improve my training plan for next time. Sure, if I PR with a plan I could just use the same plan again and adjust the paces but I feel strongly that I usually alternate between PR races and non-PR races because I'm constantly tweaking my training and finding out what works best for my body and my specific race goals.
All the medals I have hanging in my living room don't tell whether or not I PR'ed. They all look the same no matter what my finish time was. They tell a story of how hard I had to bust my ass and whether I finish a marathon in 3:30 or 5:30 they were well earned and worn with pride!
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How do you feel failing to meet a goal? What motivates you more - the fear of failure or the desire to succeed?