Setting Goals

I was asked by Becca if I thought it was a wise idea to make a goal time for a first marathon.  To make this sound less awkward I’ll just rewrite the question like it’s an interview.

Do you think it’s a good idea to make a concrete goal time for a first marathon?  Do you regret it?

First, I regret not looking at what the NYC marathon course actually consisted of.  I regret not knowing that there were big elevation changes outside the bridges and not realizing that gradual uphills would be the death of me.  If I had known that I probably would have changed my goal to 3:15.  (Who could predict wind).

I think your primary goal for any road race (especially when you don’t know the distance) is to finish.  Finishing a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 8k, 5k, ect injury free is a huge accomplishment.  Never take it for granted.

I don’t regret making a goal time though.  The marathon is like any other road race just longer.  It involves more training but if you train appropriately you will finish.  A 5k requires more training then finishing a 100 meter dash.  (notice I said finishing).  When I completed the marathon a wide range of emotion went through me. While yes I successfully completed my first marathon I don’t feel like it changed me.  I don’t feel like some new women who only has to do marathons.  I don’t feel like I had a life revelation and now can become inspirational.  I feel exactly how I did before running the race.  My opinion of running hasn’t changed.

When I first signed up for the NYC back in May I did it on my terms.  I would have been able to train for a marathon 1 or even 2 years ago…but I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t see the point.  I still felt like a runner whether I have run a marathon or 500 marathons.   I didn’t feel pressure to sign up or that everyone is running a marathon so me too!

Will I run another marathon?  Yes and maybe that marathon will give me the soul searching or new women experience others had.  For now I’ll continue resting and recovering with hopes to run next week.

If you have any questions feel free to ask or email me at lolzthatswim(at)gmail

Questions for you:

What is your favorite running distance?

How did you feel after your first marathon? 

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  1. I expected my first marathon to change me but it didn’t. I hated it and had desire to do another one. I ran NYC as a second chance but mostly because it was New York and running that particular marathon was the reason I started running. While I don’t think my body is cut out to be a super strong marathoner, running NYC last weekend did change me. I can’t explain it but I had the most fun I’ve ever had during a race despite being miserable from miles 9-17 from knee pain. I say give the marathon another chance. If you like it, run more. If not, screw marathons

  2. Favorite running distance = 10 miles! I am not sure why but it is just perfect! Up until this past weekend it was also the shortest race I have ever done so that could be why… the 10k this past weekend wasn’t bad either.

    No marathon stamp over here : )

  3. I think it was really great that you set a goal for your first marathon! For the course and the conditions, it sounds like it definitely was a high bar but I feel like that probably helped you turn out an awesome time. For my first marathon, my goal was just to finish so, for the most part, I went REALLY conservatively. When I finished, I felt like I left a lot out on the course because I was hardly pushing myself. That’s definitely NOT the feeling you want after running 26.2 miles! I don’t regret it because for my second race I had some experience with the distance that wasn’t an absolute death march but I also had absolutely no idea what I was actually capable of. You live and you learn though, I guess!

  4. I didn’t have that “changed” sense after my first marathon. Actually, I hated it and swore I would never do another (well, that changed…). I did sort of feel that way after my 50k. I wasn’t “changed” but the 50k gave me a totally new perspective on what was POSSIBLE for me. So there’s that.

    I think for a lot of people, the marathon is this “impossible” thing that becomes possible and so it changes their outlook. But if you were a serious runner before who never considered it “impossible,” then it makes sense that your whole world view wasn’t rocked by finishing 🙂

  5. “I feel exactly how I did before running the race.” – I don’t know why more people don’t say this. They’re all like “I’m a marathoner now.” but really, you are the same person. People asked if I felt different after doing my first ironman, and I was like “Except for the gigantic blisters…no.” I still had the same job to go to and the same friends and the same apartment. Big deal.

    As for having a time goal for your first time at a distance, I think almost everybody has an estimate of how long the race should take them. Doing otherwise would be dumb, how else can you know how much fuel/water you need, when your family and friends should look for you, etc.

      1. Shhhhhh you exist in real life, I met you on the awkward ferry ride at the Greenwich swim.

        Seriously, though, when people are like “I have no idea how long it will take me to finish,” that’s just silly if you have been training. You should know if it will be, like, 4 hours vs. 6 hours.

  6. I don’t think every race needs to be a some huge inspiration experience that makes you look at your soul on a new level or whatever and whatnot. I honestly quit reading some running blogs because every.single.race.recap was like reading an entry from chicken soup for the runner’s soul. Sometimes, you just run a race and you love it or don’t love it and it just is what it is 🙂 I ran one marathon a few years ago and it was fine. I definitely felt like I’d accomplished something awesome but it didn’t change my life. I may run another one someday, I may not. For now I love half marathons…I like being able to push it but not feel like I have to sprint the entire time (like a 5k, though those are growing on me). I do races because I enjoy running with or without goals and that is just enough for me right now 🙂 I know not everyone is like that and there is NOTHING wrong with being introspective after a race or setting lofty goals every time. Just not me! haha

  7. I really wish I could run at least one marathon in my future, but it isn’t looking good. You’re right, though, when completely ANY distance for the first time finishing injury free is the ultimate reward. I did love my first half marathon. The distance seemed perfect for me and I just loved every minute of it. It wasn’t too short, but it wasn’t too long either. Just right 🙂

  8. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to set a goal for a first time marathon. You run a lot and certainly know your own abilities. I think the goal you selected was perfect. A time you knew you could get close to and maybe a little bit of a reach to make it challenging. Onward and upward.

  9. NYCM was my 3rd marathon and honestly…yes it’s awesome and I appreciate the support and well wishes and congratulatory messages but for some reason I am just a little like eh to the whole thing (yet am running another in a month…total masochist). I would seriously “forget” that I had ran a marathon and be like…oh yeah I was in the middle of it a day ago.
    I think goals are good as a guideline but you also have to be prepared to adjust. My first was in Miami, training in the cold NYC and waking up to high humidity and heat meant I had to abandon pacing goals and adjust for that half way through. I was pissy about it until I decided to stop whining and enjoy the experience.
    I will run more because I love the challenge but I will always love the half marathon distance and will probably focus on that for spring racing. I hate that even though I did speed work I still feel SLOW.

  10. I guess my favorite distance is the 10k. I really like racing it, and now that I’ve broken 50 three times, I want to get an even faster time.
    I’ve never run a marathon, but after my first half I was elated. I truly love distance running, I just seem to encounter problems training for long races (injuries). 10 milers/15ks are a good compromise, and there is a 15k on my birthday I want to do! I suppose I should run…

  11. Hi, I don’t think I felt changed after my first marathon. I think it took time to settle in. The marathon was the 2nd race I ever ran so I didn’t have any expectations going into it, other than that I would finish come hell or high water!
    Looking back on that race and my journey since, I think it did change me. I discovered things about my self while training for and running those races. The old analogy, life is a marathon, not a sprint. It seems so trite. But often I look at problems and struggles as just another hill. Throw me another one and I’ll get over that one also.
    My favorite distance is the Half Marathon. It’s long enough to feel like a race, and you definatley feel like you were out for a run. But, it’s not so long as to cause a lot of pain. I refer to it as a “civilized distance”. A marathon is like the normandy invasion, a half is a fun afternoon activity.

    1. The second race you ever ran!? Oh wow that is awesome! i kind of think of that marathon quote as similar to enjoying the process as well as the end result.

      I agree completely about the half!

  12. I have never ran a marathon and, honestly, I’m not sure I ever will. I have the attention span of a 3 year old, so I end up bored after an hour. 5Ks are normally my favorite distance to run, purely because of the limited time investment.

    As an amusing “wind” note, I was running a 5K in San Diego. When I signed up for it, they told me that we’d be running through the lamp district. I went and walked the path, ran it a couple of times, felt prepared. And then the day came and they changed their mind. They had us run by the bay instead. It was absolutely gorgeous and OMG so freakin’ windy. Every direction I ran in had the wind in my face, which I’m not even sure how that’s possible!

    1. Wow that sounds terrible! The marathon you aren’t going as fast as a 5k so I’m sure the constant wind was awful . That is the problem with VA Beach races…the wind never ends!

  13. To say it didn’t change you at all meant either you learned absolutely nothing from the experience or you didn’t try at all. You might not see the changes, but I bet you learned at least one thing about yourself during the race. Even if that one thing is so tiny, a change occurred.

    1. I was referring more towards changing my opinion of running and wanting to only run full marathons. I learned more about myself in those three hours then I would like to think. It was a lot of fun though and I don’t regret anything about the race. 🙂

      1. Gotcha. I think if anyone just only wants to do marathons, they are completely limiting themselves from reaching full potential as a runner.

  14. I am currently trying to decide on race goals. I don’t have a specific time just a specific time I want to beat. That makes planning interesting but I am just going for it with the general goal I guess.

  15. My favorite distance is for sure a half. I hope to someday do a marathon, but for now I’m content with doing halves and shorter distances…10k over 5k for sure though.

  16. I loved my marathon and while some parts of it royally sucked, I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. Did it profoundly change me? Nope. I know what to do (and what not to do) for a better marathon next time around and I know I’ll run another. I don’t see myself as being inspirational for running a marathon. I just put in the time to train for it. In my eyes, anyone can do it.
    My favourite distance? I love half marathons. I’m not a “sprinter” so I like that it’s a longer race, adn 2 hours feels like the right amount of time.

    1. I agree that half marathons are my favorite distance as well. I enjoyed the full and it has helped me to realize what I need to change next time but I don’t feel like it’s the only race distance I ever want to do.

  17. Even though the marathon is by far my favourite running distance, I never had any life-changing revelations when I finished my first one either. I was chuffed to bits, but that’s about as far as it went. Honestly, I think the whole ‘inspiration’ aspect is due to people’s tendency to overdramatise absolutely everything these days. Completing a marathon can be a spiritual experience, but it’s now become quite commonplace, and I think the idea that it will change someone’s life forever is midleading…people have to make themselves seem like a special snowflake though. Obviously if you’ve run through a debilitating condtion or serious illness that’s a bit different, because that kind of adversity makes the marathon become a metaphor for life. Otherwise I just roll my eyes at people who go on and on about how marathons are the equivalent of the labours of Hercules.


  18. For my first marathon, I planned on running a 3:59:59. Then, I was sick and missing quite some training and I even got injured just 3 weeks before the race. I ran the first 10k with stomach cramps. Those things can’t be planned, and I finished in 4:28:28. Yes, I was disapointed, but also proud that I had finished. I thing setting a goal time is important to stay focused during training, but it’s not the end of the world to not finish in that time.

  19. I’ve only done 5k, 8k and 10k to date. As a relatively new runner, I like 5ks, but there is something about the 8k that seems like a perfect distance for me. Just challenging enough, but not difficult. My first 10k was awful because I hadn’t trained at all, but I’m excited to tackle that distance again after I’ve trained.

    Never done a marathon, but I can say that after each race – regardless of distance, I always feel extremely thankful for my health and ability to run (no matter how fast or slow I am). The human body is an amazing tool and I’m constantly encouraged at every feat it accomplishes (especially when your mind tells you that you can’t!).

  20. Recently I am on the A goal, B goal and C goal bandwagon. It fits my very laid back, “racing” style.

    I love, love, love the 10 miler. I wish there were more 10 mile races around!

  21. I’m running my first marathon this weekend, and I tried not to set a time goal lest I drive myself crazy…but of course I still have a soft time goal in my head! As for a favorite distance…talk to me on Sunday 🙂

  22. One of my facebook friends posted this list of 100 reasons to run a marathon, and honestly… none of them were super convincing. It talked about race atmosphere, seeing people’s personal and physical victories, etc… and while I agree you do see that at a marathon, you don’t have to run a marathon to see that. Heck, I see it at 5Ks. You don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner or enjoy running. As far as the marathon changing me, it definitely affected my fitness- but it didn’t make me feel like any more of a runner than before. I felt accomplished, but it wasn’t really validation (I felt accomplished just by training, honestly).

    I think setting a time goal for your first marathon is a good idea- maybe a few time goals though. One that’s a “best situation ever” time goal and then some more realistic ones. Of course the most important thing should be finishing and I like how you mentioned injury free because what good does completing a marathon do to you if you can’t run for weeks afterwards due to injury?

  23. 1) It is absolutely fine to make a goal for a first (or any) marathon, as long as they are realistic. Ever since my first one, I have made a 3-tier goal. Level 3 is always just to finish…because that is an accomplishment in itself. Level 2 is a good time, and Level 1 is the “if everything goes perfect” lofty goal.

    2) My favorite distance…that’s a tough one. I like 10k and half marathons because there is some speed involved, but neither give me the feeling of accomplishment like I’ve gotten from the marathon.

    3) I felt like crap after my first marathon. I learned the hard way that gels do not make my stomach a happy place and I was cramped and uncomfortable for about one-third of the marathon (2010 Rock N Roll Arizona). I zipped right by my family to the bathrooms. The muscle and joint pain in the days thereafter was like nothing I have ever experienced, but in a twisted sort of way I actually might have liked that…

  24. I think making goals is important, even for your first…making SMART goals (I still think 3:10 was smart goal for you…regardless of outcome) is even more important.

    Marathon has become my favorite distance- never did I ever think I would say that though, especially after my first!

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