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Expectation Management For Maximum Happiness Factor

Figuring out exactly what you want to achieve is the first and most important step.  Do you want to run faster, a podium finish?  Or just feel fitter at the end?  Or just finish?  When setting goals, there are 2 types of goals.  Outcome goals are a result you’d like to achieve, and process goals as the processes you will need to repeatedly follow to achieve that result.  Both are equally important in having a good race.

In setting your race day goals, here are some things to consider:

BE SPECIFIC WITH YOUR GOAL

What exactly is it that you want? Include an element of specificity for the outcome: “I want to run sub 24 for a 100 miles or maybe I want to finish before the second sunrise or I just want to finish.

A GOOD GOAL HAS PERSONAL MEANING 

Ask yourself why is it important to you?

They should be things you want to achieve for yourself, and not for someone else. Training to reach a goal requires a lot of hard work so if the goal you’re working toward has deep meaning for you, you’ll find a way to persevere.  Let your running be about your own hopes and dreams.

SET ATTAINABLE GOALS THAT ARE ALSO CHALLENGING

Your goals should require you to reach outside your comfort zone while remaining within the realm of possibility. And if you’ve done the training then you will be more confident in setting and working toward these goals.  

A GOOD GOAL KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED SO WRITE IT DOWN

Write down your goals so there’s no question of what you are aiming for.  Regularly seeing your goals is a way to keep yourself honest and working toward that goal with your training and should create excitement to get you out of bed each day for training.

EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT FOR MAXIMUM HAPPINESS

You’ve trained long and hard and have done the work, but in a long distance race like a 100 miles, things can and will happen.  More often than not, you will have to make adjustments on course.  Some are minor and will allow you to stay on track while others may alter your race day goals.  Plan ahead and think about possible challenges that might occur along the way and what you could do to keep moving forward toward your goals.  But also be realistic and think “ok, what if it’s 100 degrees on race day and it’s not going to be my best day, then look at alternate goals.”  I like to have a number of goals for race day.  “A” goal may be an outcome goal to PR or place in the top 10 or place in your age group.  But if you’re at mile 50 and you are way behind where you thought you would be, don’t punish yourself, be positive and go to plan “B”.  Think, “yes I’ve run this far, I may be off where I wanted to be but I still feel good.” Then go to your process goals as another way to measure success and work on things like executing your fueling plan and keeping the energy high and your hydration good all day long so you can still finish strong.  If it’s a really bad day but you are still moving and not ill or injured, then plan “C” may be to just finish to get that finisher’s medal.

While you are out there running, have a good attitude and enjoy the day. Think about all the training you’ve done with friends to get to this race, look around at your surroundings and views and the wonderful people you’ve met along the way, and just enjoy the race and smile.  Try to have fun with it no matter how the day is!  I’ve had some really good races where everything went according to plan “A”.  But I’ve also had some really bad races where the wheels have completely come off and I had to make the decision to either drop or keep moving forward.  I threw goal “A” and “B” out the window, went to goal “C” to just finish and then had fun chatting with other runners, spending time eating all the food at the aid stations and thanking the volunteers, and enjoying the night sky.  Either way, when you cross that finish line you will have an amazing sense of achievement that you should be proud of.  This leaves you with much more confidence to go on and achieve your next goal, from running races to other areas of your life!

~Jack Pilla - Run Formula Ultra/Trail Coach and Master of Maxiumum Happiness



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