This Runner's Trials

On goal- setting

If you've been reading my blog since before the baby took over (if so, my gosh, thank you for putting up with me!) you may know that I'm really awesome at setting big goals for myself then falling short.

Two years ago, I actually thought I had a shot at running a marathon fast enough to qualify for Boston (BQ). Despite only having run one marathon previously and not training for it. Real smart, Jen. You can see how my two BQ attempts went here and here.


I'm sure my stomach felt awesome here.

I try to set SMART goals but I always have trouble with the "achievable" part of goal-setting. I feel like I always set the bar too low or ridiculously high.

Once I started running again post-pregnancy, I took a few weeks to find my running legs again before letting my mind contemplate spring races. Right off the bat, postpartum running went better than expected.

I planned to run the Clemson Easter Bunny half marathon in April. In January, I suddenly found myself staring at SmartCoach's page. SmartCoach is the same "person" who told me I could BQ… dun dun dun.

I plugged in the pace I had been running, and it spit out a plan that said I could run a 1:50 half marathon; an 8:23 pace. That seemed fast at the time, but at about 7 minutes slower than my PR, it also seemed doable. So, I started training.


But, I didn't follow the plan too closely. I aimed for one tempo or interval run a week, one long run, and two easy runs, but my paces were much faster than what SmartCoach wanted. I couldn't help myself. It had been a year+ since I ran as fast as I wanted; I wasn't going to slow down because a training plan said I should. Besides, being a mom makes you a faster runner so maybe I really was capable of running a better 1/2 time than I previously thought.

My race is on Saturday, and I think that 1:50 goal is a bit too conservative. My last 4 long runs have been at an 8:23 pace or faster. So, 1:50 doesn't seem like the best goal for me right now.

Where do I go from here goal-wise? The old, foolish, I'm-capable-of-BQing Jen would be all like "PR, PR, PR, break 1:43:12". But I know the chances of that happening are ridiculously slim. I bet I could hold that pace (7:52) for half the race or so, but I highly doubt I could hold it a whole 13.1 miles on a fairly hilly course.


Miles 10.3- 12.2 are going to be so much fun.

I'm guessing I'll finish somewhere between a 1:43:13- 1:50. But I still want a goal to shoot for. Instead of being SMART, I'll just pick an arbitrary number: 1:45.

Thinking about holding an 8:00 min/ mile pace for 13.1 miles gives me butterflies in my stomach. In a good way. I've also learned there's only one thing worse than being too ambitious; not challenging myself enough. I'd much rather fall a little short of a goal than finish thinking I could have pushed myself harder.

Then there's always my favorite non-time goal that I have every race: beat Jeff. If I achieve that one, the clock can say whatever it wants and I'll be happy. ;)

Here goes nothing. See you at the finish line!

Comments (13) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m going through some of the same struggles (minus the baby) when it comes to pacing for my second marathon in a month. I want to PR since I’m so much better trained but there’s a 1k mountain in the mix. Eek!
    Btw… I’m running the Clemson half too! Good luck on our run!

  2. haha BEAT JEFF! you can do it!

  3. Good luck! W will be so proud of you no matter what :) And beat Jeff.

  4. Good luck and have fun!

  5. I’m excited for you! You may end up surprising yourself– although those hills are no joke. Have a great time!

  6. Go Jen! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!!

  7. Oh my gosh, I am a BRAND NEW reader to this blog and it’s so funny that this is the very post I landed on because I literally just wrote about my feelings on PRs on my own blog yesterday ( . I wish so badly I could just run a race and say, “Fishing time be damned!” and just run because running awesome. But I struggle with this and with setting goals and expectations. Ha, so glad I foudn this blog and I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  8. Good luck!!! Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  9. I am so excited that race time is here for you! Good luck these next 2 weeks, Jen! I am sure you’ll do great. Kill it!

    Funny side note- it seems like every race I look at these last few months have 2+ mile climbs towards the end of the races… um, no thanks! =)

  10. Just saw your tweet that you have a new PR! Congrats to you!!! :)

    It’s crazy how amazing our bodies are. Yours just carried and delievered a healthy baby boy and just months later you’re setting PRs in a half-marathon! Enjoy the day!

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