"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More Than Just Finishing

A lot of the reading I've done the last few weeks has told me that the only goal I should have for my first marathon is simply to finish. For all the time and enrgy spent and miles run in preparation for the big day, though, simply hoping to finish feels like I'm selling myself short. Certainly a good goal, yes. But not one that's going to keep me motivated enough to go run 12 miles on a cold, dark, rainy Oregon day in the middle of February.

I'm a numbers person. I like math and I'm pretty good at it (real math, with numbers, not the theoretical equations that doomed me in my one and only calculus class). I break down a run probably more than I should by crunching numbers in my head while I'm driving, stretching or even during the run itself. How fast was that lap? What's my mile pace at that speed? How fast do I need to run this loop to bring my overall mile pace down to what it was yesterday? Am I running this 2nd half faster than the first half? I suppose that people think about a whole variety of things when they run. These are some of the things I think about to pass the time and take my thoughts away from listening to myself breath or hearing my feet hit the ground.

Various authors and websites have classified goals in every way imaginable: Process and Outcome goals, Results and Performance goals, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, Time-based), and long-term and short-term goals to name just a few. What are we really getting at here though? Yes, everyone's goal is to finish. You wouldn't sign up, train and show up if that wasn't your intention. Even if the goal is, say, 7 hours, I don't know of any other way to prepare both physically and mentally than to have something to strive for. Something measurable in very small increments (like a daily run). And if you have small daily pace goals, is it too much of a stretch to do the same for the actual race?

I know for a fact that if I don't have a daily pace goal (determined by keeping meticulous records of each previous run) that the 12-mile February run mentioned earlier probably isn't going to get done. I would be bored and would wonder why I was bothering to do it. There would be no purpose to pushing myself and no way to measure improvement (as a sidenote, I guess I can cross off "increased overall health due to regular exercise" as a candidate for The Reason for doing this--that alone apparently isn't going to get me out in the rain and cold in February).

So what does it all mean? I don't have a time goal for Race Day yet. I don't even have a best case/worst case/time-I-would-be-happy-with goal yet. It's too early. But I do have one immediate goal and one short-term goal to share.

IMMEDIATE GOAL: 5.5 mile run on Saturday in under 44 minutes (8:00/mile)

SHORT-TERM GOAL: Liberty House 10k at Minto Brown Island Park on August 15th in under 50 minutes (8:02/mile)

No comments: