Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Set goals for each workout

The first time that I actually followed a training plan, I was blown away with the results.  For my first three Ironmans, and all of the half marathons and marathons that I had run before those, I didn't stick to my training very well.  And each time, I finished feeling like I could do better.  When I finally followed a plan, almost perfectly, I set a PR that I'm not sure I'll be able to beat!

Before training for the Goofy Challenge, I would just go out and run, or go out and bike, without any purpose other than going for a certain distance.  I now know that having a goal for each and every workout is like racing every day.  It's awesome!  Whether your goal is to keep a certain pace, go for a certain amount of time (which I recommend over using mileage as a goal), or trying to keep your heart rate under or over a certain point, setting goals gives you something to focus on and something to work toward while your training.  It also can break up your workouts into smaller workouts so you feel like your accomplishing something each time you train.  Also, by using certain workouts every few weeks, you can test yourself and see your progress!

It has taken me a few years to really learn some ways that I can get motivated for training and to stay on track.  Without setting daily goals, I would find myself feeling like I was burned out, or feeling like it was ok to skip a few days in a row (which, if you're burned out, then yes, take a few days off!).  Maybe this won't work for you, but you should at least give it a try.

Just for a quick example, I usually set pace goals for my shorter workouts, or the ones where I'm trying to improve my speed.  Typically these are a handful of sprint repeats.  For my mid distance workouts, I also set a pace goal, but I pay more attention to my heart rate.  I try to maintain my goal pace, but will drop back if my heart rate starts to get too high.  For my long workouts, I simply set a time goal and go knock it out.  For these workouts, I pay pretty close attention to my heart rate, and don't really care too much about speed...if I'm doing the right short and mid distance workouts, the speed will be there for the longer workouts.  If this doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll clarify whatever I can for you!

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