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July 18, 2019

When you first start out running, it feels like you can't lace up your trainers without breaking a personal best of some sort or other. It doesn't matter whether it's the furthest you've ever run, a fastest time or even something a little less tangible like the most technical course you've ever done, when you are starting out you get better quick.

The longer you spend in this fantastic sport of ours however, those improvements that were so easy to come by, become harder earned with every training cycle. Until eventually you are doing things like weighing your reusable cup for the 50th time and wondering if anyone makes a 9 gram one, all in the name of going a little bit faster. 

Regardless of whether you are searching for those marginal improvements or you're still lucky enough to be reaping the benefit of newbie gains, the most important thing is that you go into each race with some realistic goals about your performance. Not only will it help keep you focused when the going gets tough but it will keep you grounded when it seems like you've got the Midas touch. 

ABC Goals 

I'd personally love to take credit for this particular approach, but I have to confess I've stolen it from the ultra running machine that is Kim Cavill. Her approach is incredibly simple and all the better for it. All you need to do is ahead of your up coming race you set out the following three goals. 


  • A Goal - Think of this one as your best case scenario. This should be what you could achieve if all the stars aligned and everything goes perfect. That's not to say that your A Goal shouldn't be realistic and achievable, it should. But it should still also be a be a dream result that you go home thrilled with. An example of this would be finish in the top ten or to run a new PB.
  • B Goal - Your B Goal should be hyper realistic, this is what you can achieve even if it's terrible weather, you get a little lost once and forget to fill up your water bottle up at an aid station. Importantly though this should still be a result you can hold your head up about at the end. 

  • C Goal - This is not quite the worst case scenario but it's not too far off either. The C Goal is all about damage limitation. I always think of this one as 'everything has gone wrong and I'm only half way round, what can I salvage from this mess' and for me that is almost always 'Just to finish'. If however you have higher (but realistic) aspirations you can pick loftier targets like finishing in a certain time or running all the downhills.   

It might not sound like much. But this simple tweak has had huge benefits for me when it comes to tough races, no longer does my head go down if something goes awry early on. Instead I reassess the situation and focus on doing everything possible to hit my next target. Give it a try on your next race or training run and let us know how it works for you. 

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