Choosing a Race Goal


Whether you are a newbie or a veteran runner, choosing a race goal can sometimes be tricky. In this episode I discuss a few different scenerios and several aspects to consider when choosing a race goal. Hopefully, this can help you set a goal that’s ambitious, but still attainable. Included in the discussion is also the topic of how to potentially handle the pitfalls of going after that “home run” instead of just putting the ball in play. Sorry, for the baseball analagy, but it fits in my little mind.


For the PDF of the presentation download Choosing Race Goal

  • Clement

    Thank you so much for this, Mr. Humphrey. I am using your HMM book to train for my first marathon (the 2014 NYC Marathon), and it is easily leaps and bounds (er, strides and lunges?) better than anything else I’ve reviewed. As a beginner, I appreciate being challenged in a meaningful and consistent way rather than run through the wringer with deceptively easy days and dreaded long runs.

    Anyway, I have a question that is only slightly related to goal pace, so I hope you don’t mind that I’m posting it in here. Specifically, I’d like your feedback on possible changes to your Beginner Program for Marathoners, as contained in Table 4.1 of your HMM book. I am registered to run a 10-mile race on September 28, but your Program schedules a 16-mile long run for that day. Do you recommend that I run the 10-mile race, and then try to tack on the remaining 6 miles right after the race; or shuffle the 16-mile long run to earlier that week; or shuffle the long run to the Monday after the 10-miler, i.e., the 29th, whereupon I would obviously forgo that Monday’s easy run, have an off day on Tuesday the 30th, and just continue with the rest of that week’s schedule from Wednesday on without a Wednesday rest day? I am also contemplating running a half marathon on October 12, but again, the Program schedules a 16-mile long run for that day. I can tack on three miles after the half marathon; or move the 16-mile long run to earlier in the week; or move the 16-mile long run to October 13 (i.e., Monday), forgo that Monday’s easy run, have a rest day on the 14th, then proceed with the rest of the week’s running on the 15th without another rest day that week.

    I know you caution against doing any races while training for the marathon, but the 10-miler and half marathon races I’m looking at are borough-wide races that I want to run in order to qualify for a number of events next year. I want to figure out a way to work everything into the Program, without overly endangering my fitness and training. Thanks!

    • LukeHansons

      Yeah, I think this goes beyond the scope of the current topic, but certainly is a topic worth a blog post of it’s own. However, you are correct- I am not a big fan of running races during the marathon segment. This is exactly why- now we are looking at your trianing and trying to decide what we sacrifice in order to fit these races in while still trying to accomplish the big goal. I likw the idea of a half marathon about 4 weeks before a marathon because we can take care of two things at once. Yet, now we really need to adjust 7-10 days for both races to try to squeeze them in. At the end of the day, if the marathon is the ultimate goal of the segment, then keep that as your primary focus. If running these races are important, that’s fine- Just recognize that it’s going to be hard to squeeze all of this in and not have something be shortchanged.

      • Clement

        Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply, even though my comment was off-topic. (Sorry!) I think I’ll end up keeping the half-marathon and perhaps adding three miles on it afterward, and I’ll either tack on six miles to the 10-miler or ditch it altogether. I’m not going to shuffle training days around in my weekly schedules to accommodate the races.

        As for the actual topic at hand, I am still in the process of locking down a set of race goals (other than, of course, finishing the marathon). I have a couple of time goals that I’m thinking about, with varying degrees of likelihood. I anticipate training the first 5-6 weeks of the program using the more attainable goal as the benchmark for my paces, etc., and then re-evaluating as I get closer to the halfway mark of the training program. I hope I’ll develop enough by then to have the reasonable option of shifting my race time goal to the more challenging one. In the end, though, the primary goal is to finish the marathon; anything else is icing on the cake.