What To Do When You Don’t Hit Your Goals

22 May

Last Sunday was a big day for me. I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon. It was an amazing feeling and I’m so proud to have finished.

Insanity in its purest form

Despite being thrilled that I crossed the finish line, I’m disappointed to not have hit my goal time. So, here are some tips and tricks I’ve used when I faced failure or disappoint before:

1) Set “levels” of goals before hand.

Going in to Sunday’s race I had 3 “levels” of goals. Goal one, or my reach goal was a sub 2:20 finish. I hadn’t trained to finish in that time, and I wasn’t planning to finish within that time frame. If by some miracle I had the best day ever, and was able to finish in that time, well fantastic, I will absolutely take it. But I wasn’t going to kill myself to try and achieve that goal.

Goal two, or my achieve goal was a sub 2:40 finish. Now this I was sure I could achieve. All my training said I would hit this time easily, even if I was a little flat on race day. But things don’t always go as planned and I missed this goal

Goal three, my back-up goal, was to finish the race and have fun. This goal I nailed. I finished the race and I (mostly) had a blast.

Finishing MCHHM

The race wasn’t all fun, per se, but it was an unbelievable experience and parts of it were total awesomesauce like, getting high-fived by good looking Marines, watching a group of guys run by in matching kilts, and running with all the kids that come out to support the racers.

2) Realize that it is not the end of the world

Seriously, it’s not. I don’t care what your goal is, if you didn’t achieve it’s not the end of the world. It may utterly suck, and you may be extremely upset, annoyed, frustrated, angry, etc. but I promise the world will continue to spin.

Hide under your desk and you'll be saved!

It can be very difficult not to meet your goals, but understand that life will go on and there will be another day.

3) Figure out what went wrong

For me, there were probably several reasons I didn’t hit my goal time. I was extremely nervous on race day which led to a lot of speeding up and slowing down trying to ensure that I stayed within a certain pace. I should have just let me legs find a comfortable pace and rolled with that.

I also did not sleep very well the two nights before the race. Maybe 6 hours total, I usually sleep 8 hours every night, so I was pretty knackered come Sunday morning.

I also participated in my first mud run Friday night, and while it helped calm my nerves, it probably contributed to the knee pain and muscle cramping I experienced on Sunday. I do NOT recommend running another race the same weekend as something like half-marathon. Bad idea.

But it was so fun!

I also forgot my fuel in my race bag. On all my long runs I’ve started to take in calories between miles 5-7. Not having my beloved Clif Shot Bloks really messed with mentally and eventually physically when my stomach let me know it was not cool that I was not feeding it. The food station wasn’t until mile 9 or 10 and by that point in the race I was dying for some extra calories.

Identifying what went wrong will help you achieve your goals in the future.

4) Fix what went wrong

I learned a lot from this race. I need to ensure I remember to bring my race fuel, get sufficient sleep, don’t let my nerves get the better of me and DON’T participate in a mud run less than 48 hours out from the race.

Why did you abandon us?

For the Alexandria half, I will try to fix all these things that I can achieve my goal time, and have a much better race.

5) Give yourself another chance to reach your goals

The first 30 seconds after I crossed the finish line at the Marine Corps Historic Half I thought I was never going to run again. But almost immediately I knew I wanted another shot to hit the finishing time I had trained so hard for. Hence, signing up for the Alexandria half-marathon.

I know I can hit my goal time, I just need another shot at it. Giving yourself another opportunity to reach your goals not only teaches you to pick yourself back up after you’ve fallen, but it also helps to keep the motivation going. Ok, you may not have made your goal the first time around, but you will kill it this time!

6) Embrace your failures

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying this in an “oh, everyone’s a winner” manner. Everyone is not a winner part of life is sometimes losing, or coming in last, or not being picked for that job, team, college, whatever. What I mean by embrace your failures, is that understanding and accepting your failures can help you to grow.

OK, maybe now you should give up

Whenever I used to lose a sports game as a kid my mom would always say that it was ok because we would learn more from losing than from winning. And it’s true. Losing or failing can teach you a lot not only about where your weak points are (so you can fix them in the future) but also about getting back up and trying again. Often times this is the hardest part. Every now and then we fall really hard and can be so difficult to want to take another shot at it. But it’s so important to keep trying.

So, learn from your failures. They’ll teach you a lot about to achieve your goals down the line.

These are just a few suggestions, there are tons of other ways to help deal with failure and hit your goals in the future. Any other ideas or strategies?


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