We are within about 16 weeks of the IMT marathon weekend. How is your progress?

Are you moving toward your goals and getting into a training groove?

Training through this spring was a bit blah, personally. Then I unexpectedly managed a couple of near best times at a race or two. This reminded me of one thing that I have learned running competitively for much of my life: progress is not linear. It seems to be more of a dance. Unfortunately, I am not very groovy. Still, with the right direction and a clear set of steps to follow, even I can learn to fake some dance moves.

My first marathon, I trained for it on a whim. I have since discovered some goal setting steps that have been instrumental in dropping my personal best from a near Boston qualifying time to an actual Olympic trials qualifying time. Once or twice a year—as we are halfway through the year, July 3 might be a fitting time to do this—I suggest doing the following exercise as a sort of personal inventory. This does not have to apply to running, health or fitness only. I have found this to be a good exercise in general, a way to get inside of my head to evaluate priorities. Here is what I recommend you do, step by step:

  • Take a pen and paper and a few moments to list 15-20 goals with some kind of significance to you. They can apply to all facets of your life from running, to service, to family, to career, travel, faith or hobbies. Whatever. Just list the things that come to you first, but they have to be clear and quantifiable. Be sure to include measurable numbers and the date you hope to accomplish each.
  • Now, look at your 15 goals to search for themes. Try to see where accomplishing one goal might achieve another. As you do this, you need to narrow down your goals to a set of top five.
  • You have narrowed to five top priorities. As you read them, one of the five should surface as the most important to you at this point in your life. This is the goal that you need to zero in on like a laser on a target. Don’t forget about the others, but this should be your focus.
  • Take this top goal and plaster it in prominent places: on a mirror, on your phone wallpaper, or on the fridge, for instance. Not to be obsessive but each day you should think about this goal and you should do something each day that works toward achieving the goal. I would imagine it is something a bit “out there” and so it is going to take some daily reminders that you’ve got this!
  • Finally, break down the big goal you have zeroed in on into smaller sub-goals. Perhaps some of those other top five goals fall into the sub-goal category. Otherwise, you may need to make some other strategic goals to work towards along the way. This is very important because succeeding at smaller goals will give you the confidence and practice that you need in order to reach the big one.

Remember that half the battle of a marathon is in your head. So use your thinking cap not just your legs to make progress towards your goal. The cool thing is that success at one goal means that you are more likely to be successful in other areas.

Go set some goals!

Susie Duke @susiedukeruns

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