Waiting to set my goal time/pace for Boston Marathon


The closer we get to April 17th, the more I am getting asked about my goal time for the Boston Marathon. I am also getting a lot of (unsolicited) advice, on what others think my goal time should be. Especially, after recent races. Some people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them I don’t know, or that I haven’t decided.  Some people just seem to think I am lying because I don’t want to share my goals.

It’s not that I don’t have goals, overall.  I just don’t put a time limit on my goals.  My body will adapt and improve at its own rate.  Picking an arbitrary goal time and date, trying to reach some self-imposed expectation just adds more stress and sets me up for disappointment. I want to be able to enjoy the journey, as much as the destination.  I have enough anxiety leading up to this race, without adding more to it.

I have been asked about training, without a goal.  I have written about this before.  I don’t train based on where I want to be, I train based on my current fitness level. (read more)  Luckily, I also work with a really smart coach.  (Read more about my choice to work with a coach here).  When a plan is calling for marathon pace, the plan is usually trying develop your aerobic threshold.  That is the purpose of the workout.  Understanding that every workout has a purpose and training at a level based on goal time and not current fitness levels negates the purpose of the workout.  That doesn’t mean that you won’t improve.  It does mean, you may not be training as efficiently as possible.  Balancing the risk/reward scales is a key component to smart training.  Training above your current fitness level increases your risk for injury and doesn’t necessarily increase  how quickly your body adapts to training.

It’s okay to have an idea of where you are going, but you definitely need to be willing to assess and adjust your goals throughout your training cycle. As I get closer and closer to race day, I am starting to get a clearer picture of my current training and fitness levels.  With 6 weeks left, and a few short distance races along the way, things are beginning to fall into place.  There is still time for things to improve, and unfortunately things can go wrong.  Life happens.  Weather can be a huge factor come race day, and I may be teetering on what my actual goal pace will be all the way up to the starting line.  Having only run one prior marathon, I am not exactly an expert.  I know I can use some calculators to get some general ideas.  Although, I feel like these calculators can be a bit overly optimistic for most runners.  There are many limiting factors that the calculators don’t take into consideration. I still always put my times in for fun, though. I will definitely look for, and respect, the opinion of my coach that I have worked with through this training cycle.  I am a big fan of developing A, B and C goals and adjusting as the race progresses.

No matter what, I will feel accomplished because I will have tried my best. I have pushed my limits many times already through this training cycle.  I feel like I have grown a lot, as a runner between my first marathon and this current training cycle. Every race and training cycle is an opportunity to grow and improve, no matter the clock KC-finishtime.  I already have a new 10k PR to add to my list, and I am pretty excited about that. That was a huge confidence booster, I hope that positive momentum will help move me through the rest of my training cycle. I am very optimistic about this race, I can’t wait to line up at the starting line. This will not be a race that I plan to jog, or run for completion.  I plan to lay it all out there come race day.


Maybe I do have one goal….NOT to have an ugly cry at the finish line.  Like I did after my first, HA!

Published by RunCanvas

Avid Runner, mother, wife and teacher. On a wonderful journey, taking it one mile at a time.

8 thoughts on “Waiting to set my goal time/pace for Boston Marathon

  1. You are being very smart in your training with regards to goals! I have only run one marathon, if you can even call what I did running (My time was over 4 hours, and you certainly couldn’t consider what I did to prepare “training”). I’m more of a half marathon girl but 26.2 miles or even 13.1 miles is a long time for everything to go your way to meet a goal time. Even one or two miles being just a little off can blow it on race day. Not to mention, things you can’t control like the weather or possibly getting sick close to the race, the course, etc.

    I think the overall goal for marathon training should be to make it to the start and finish injury-free because I can’t even do that lately, but neither can a lot of people who start out to train for a marathon. Like you I am a fan of A, B, C, D goals and knowing that no matter what the goal race time is, that you’re a better athlete and person from the training.

    Trust me, if I ever complete a marathon training cycle… and run a marathon… and BQ… there will be TEARS! Ugly cry for the win!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, and yes I still consider our 4+ marathon running. I respect all finishers of such a daunting distance. Its actually pretty awesome that you finished with what you consider not a lot of training. That should be a great confidence booster. If you ever decided to train like you want, you should make a good amount of growth. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  2. Totally agree with your approach to this race (actually every race). I’ve been working on changing from results oriented training to process oriented training. It’s such a different way to approach the training and the race! What’s cool is the satisfaction and enjoyment I get from a successful hard workout. Training is not just a grind to get fit enough to run a fast race with a goal time as the objective. It’s a journey to grow as a runner and discover the limits of the body that’s been gifted to you.

    Like you I’m running my first Boston in a little more than 5 weeks. I haven’t decided what my goal time is yet either. Number one goal is to be as healthy as possible. Beyond that I will take what the day gives me and adjust goals accordingly. I will give it my all but I also want to soak up, enjoy and remember the experience. I wish the same for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I am with you. I have had to transition my mentality. Ironically, changing my approach has increased my enjoyment of the training process and my overall times, while decreasing stress and anxiety. Good luck in Boston! Cant wait to swap stories and share successes!


  3. What you said about picking an arbitrary time and date is so true. It just adds stress that we don’t need. I ran better when I wasn’t worried about what time I was going to finish in. Well except for my fear of being last. That was real for years. 😀


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