By Gina Shell

Whenever someone would ask what your goal is on race day the most common replies would be to place in my age group or set a PR (personal record).  In one’s first marathon, one might simply reply “finish”.  Our personal goals relate to our particular result we want to achieve.  It is great to have goals in mind, however, we must also be prepared for the unexpected on race day.  Maybe you have the wrong shoes, breakfast didn’t go so well, or even the weather is not what was predicted.  Before we set that outcome goal, there are a few goals you need to achieve to help enable you to make the ultimate goal.

First goal: get to the start.  You need to arrive to the race fit, rested, injury and illness free, and having had an enjoyable training experience.  You don’t want to overtrain, because then your race won’t be an enjoyable experience.

Second goal: be totally prepared.  Always get to the the race ready to race.  There should be no doubts prior to the start of the race.  You should be mentally and physically prepared for the race.

Third goal: race smart.  You should always stick with “your” race plan.  You need to run your race and stick to your plan.  Although you might train with someone, you still have your own individual race plan.

Fourth goal: finish strong.  You want to have enough energy at the end of the race to pick up the pace, maybe pass a couple of people, and have a strong finish.

Fifth goal: enjoy the race.  The experience should be enjoyable.  When I ran the Detroit Marathon, we were bussed to Canada. The start was there, and we ran through the tunnel and into Michigan for the remainder of the marathon.  The Pittsburgh Marathon was also wonderful. There were people on every single corner cheering, playing music, and really offering encouragement. The race you run matters.

Sixth goal: see results.  After you accomplish all of your other goals, then focus on the outcome goal for the race.  Try not to focus on this goal during the race as it will distract from the other goals that need met to achieve the final outcome goals.

Happy training…….