In my column, I share key elements of mental conditioning that improve athletic performance. This month’s topic is goal setting, the ability to set and achieve goals fundamental to success in both sports and life.
As I wrote this column on "Marathon Monday," about 30,000 people were running the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton, Mass., to Boston in the 2018 Boston Marathon. I could not help thinking about the detailed training program these runners had embarked on in the 18-20 weeks prior as they crossed the finish line on Boylston Street. Training for a marathon epitomizes the deliberate nature and value of setting and achieving goals.
While completing the Boston Marathon might have been their ultimate objective, also referred to as the outcome goal, these marathon runners do not simply wake up on Patriots’ Day and run 26.2 miles. Rather, most runners follow an intense training regimen that begins with short runs in late November and gradually builds to weekly long runs in February and March, before they taper the distances a couple of weeks in advance of the mid-April race. For longdistance runners, goal-setting includes running a certain number of miles, ideally at a certain pace, each week. The step-by-step training protocol increases their physical endurance and helps build their mental fortitude by enhancing confidence. Such confidence, established through deliberate goal setting, is invaluable when runners are contending with the brutal cold, rain and wind they did in the 2018 Boston Marathon.