With the end of the 2013 racing season fast approaching, we will be posting quite a few articles on goal setting and developing a strong 2014 outlook. This first article asks the question “How much time do you truly have to train”

2014 is fast approaching. Thoughts of big goals hang in the air and reflections on the 2013 weigh heavy on our shoulders.

Before you plan your 2014 schedule, I urge you to ask yourself one real question and have the courage to give yourself an honest answer.

How much time do I truly have to train? 

This year was the first year I spent coaching full time. I’ve not only interacted with all of the Miles to Go Athletes I coach, but countless athletes through my own races and online. Inevitably, we discuss racing and goals and one trend stands out.

Those who were the most successful in achieving their goals had chosen race distances that fit into their daily lives. 

Here’s the honest truth. You are not superman/woman. You have 24 hours in the day, just like everyone else. Those hours are filled with a myriad of commitments, work, family, hobbies, training, commuting, relaxing, sleeping and more.

I see a very real sense of overcommitment to race distances that do not jive with lifestyles, such as committing to a 50 miler or marathon when you do not have the time to prepare.

This creates a very vicious circle.

1) Take on a VERY large goal race (say, a first marathon or a 50 miler)
2) Have high expectations for that goal (a very good time or a large PR)
2) Underestimate the time it takes to reach that goal.
4) Become disappointed because the expectations are not being met because the time is not there.
5) Spiral into missing workouts, not training and not enjoying training.
6) Race to the best of your ability, often missing the goal.
7) Sign up again for the same distance or race vowing revenge. 

The trend in running is away from speed and toward distance. More people are signing up for ultra marathons and marathons, 70.3 and Ironman instead of half-marathons, 10k’s and sprint tri’s.

How many of you have overcommitted for a race distance? I know I have. I committed to my first 50 miler twice, in 2011 and in 2012 and did not even come close to completing it or racing because I, frankly, ridiculously underestimated the time to train based on my life and time available.

and you know what?


Social media may tell you otherwise, your running friends may tell you otherwise, but let me tell you, setting a 20 minute PR in a half-marathon or a 10 minute PR in your 10k will still feel just as awesome as crossing the finish line of your first marathon.

If your goal is to qualify for Boston, but you don’t have the time to run a full marathon, take a season and race some 10k and half-marathons. You’ll be amazed at how you can set yourself up for success by taking on what you can handle.

Taking on what you can handle also allows you to become more consistent. Consistency is the second best predictor of success in running, ranking behind how many miles you are running. Consistency is an absolute must in running and endurance training.

For instance, I have loads of massive 100 mile goals and routes like Nolans 14, Wicklow Round and many more. I do not have the time right now to commit to those goals, so they remain on the back burner until I do. I want to give myself the best shot at completing them.

In 2014, ditch the crowd think and really ask yourself the question “What do I have time for”

And excel at that. 

The marathon/50k/50miler/100miler/Ironman distance races are not going away.

They will be there when you have time.

In 2014, make a commitment to excel at what you can, and leave the rest for another time.  

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