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setting goals

Importance of Setting Goals

It’s simply a fact that when people have goals to guide them, they are happier and achieve more than they would without having them. Goals provide focus and a measuring stick for progress. 

NYC Marathon 2011- Still the best marathon ever!

RACE WEEK I had a good week going into the marathon. Was really focused on the marathon itself and tapered quite well.  Monday I ran 6.6miles 9mm pace over the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges.  Tuesday I did an easy spin for 30 min indoors.  Wednesday was 6 miles flat with some marathon pace intervals.  Thursday off.  Friday did 3 miles and a massage, which was a great call. Saturday ran 2.3 miles.  I was anxious and nervous until Friday and then settled into a good mindset on Saturday once I started packing up my gear.

Saturday was indoors all day feeling really good.  Went out for a 6pm dinner, pasta but not too much food.  Can’t remember what I had for desert but know I had something.  Was in bed by 10pm with wake up time of 4:45 plus an extra hour of sleep for daylight savings.  That would give me almost 8 hours.  I slept well the first 5 then tossed a lot the rest of the night.


The ultimate goal is to run 3:30 or better which requires an 8:00 pace. This was my goal in Rome and Paris and I really feel by race morning, that with these perfect conditions  I can do this.  The weather is sunny, high of 53 and no wind.  My body feels great, my equipment and clothing feel good, and I’ve been training for a 8mm pace and think its totally doable.  The secondary goal is to have fun.

I changed some settings on my Garmin so on the first page I have current pace, current HR, average pace, and current time.  The wrist band I am wearing will guide me with the current time so I don’t have to rely so much on the GPS working properly.  My HR goal is 176 average, although I expect that to go up the last 3 miles.  I’m not using the garmin mileage except to check on it occasionally.  I’m using the lap button at each mile marker to get a sense of my average pace per mile, although not totally accurate, think will be more accurate than using the garmin’s preset mile splits.

I have 8 scoops of my Infinit Nutrition amongst two flasks attached to my trim wallet.  That is about 800 calories.  I also have 2 gels for back up and can pick up gel at the 21 mile or thereabout if I need it.  I plan to stop every 2 miles for water, carry a flask in my hand at all times so can have a little nutrition at a time throughout.  Start taking nutrition at mile 3 and finish first flask by 13-mile mark.

I know the course pretty well.  No substantial hills until 12.5.  I’m taking the first half on average 10 seconds per mile faster then my planned 8mm so I’m looking for a 7:50 pace.  That means look for down hills and pick up pace there, not to run a consistent 7:50 for the first half.


Woke up with plenty of time to have coffee and gather up my things.  David drove me to the ferry which took at max 25 minutes.  Approaching ferry terminal getting nervous.  Working on drinking my 32 oz of water with want more energy electrolytes and not hungry at all.  Took the 6am ferry, should be eating around 6:30 for a 3 hour lead time but I’m in transit and feel I wont digest the food well so will wait until I get there.  The bus took longer than I remembered.


Once I got to marathon village I looked for the robin hood tent where I have an invite to hang out from a friend racing with them.  This was the only good part about the morning. The rest of the village is cold and damp (probably 45 degrees out and no wind) and the tent is heated.  Ate right away (probably 7:15 by not) but slowly and chewed all my food well.  My regular race formula, which was cherry yogurt soaked overnight in ¾ cup rolled oats, topped with frozen berries.  Still not hungry but totally hit the spot.  Spent about 15 minutes on the foam roller and surprised at how good everything feels.  Got all the gear together, placed on my 3:30 goal bracelet which I will use to pace myself as opposed to the mileage on my garmin which can go through spots of inaccuracy.  Used the flushing porta pottie before I left at 8:10 to find my green area to congregate.  Also had a banana around this time too.

Found the green area, this village is huge and confusing but signs are everywhere to help you out.  I’m alone, none of my friends are here.  They are all on the 7am ferry and start later than I do.  Put on my disposable pants along with a long sleeve shirt and disposable jacket too.  I love these.  Bought them at the expo, they are light-weight, warmer than a sweatshirt and waterproof which is ideal for sitting on the wet ground.  I also have gardening gloves ($2.99) to throw away en route.  Handed over my bag and heading to the coral but stop for the bathroom again.  Feeling rushed and hearing announcements that the first wave should be lining up.  I made it to this corral area which is new to me.  Now we are in another fenced off area just for the #17 starting group.  There are porta potties here too which I wasn’t expecting.  Its still 1:10 min before race start and I’m not liking this standing business.  I find a small patch of ground to sit on amongst everyone else.  People are not really talking to each other and I’m just wanting this thing to get started so I turn on some tunes.

About half hour before start they move us along to the actual race start on the Verrizano bridge ramp.  I’m confused because before I was on the upper deck and now we are on the lower deck.  I didn’t realize there was a group that ran down here.  I find a place along the wall to hang out.  I take off the pants which are kind of restrictive and do a bunch of dynamic warm ups for upper and lower body for about 15 minutes.  I turn off my phone because my battery is draining and I’ll never make it through without tunes.


We started about 5 min late, which is going to cause some confusion with my friends on the route who are trying to follow me.  I know I started out too fast but everyone was too fast.  Many were passing me and I just held back a bit.  Because I’m on the lower portion of the bridge my Garmin is not picking up satellite and without the sun I cant see my HR either.  Just going with my gut and having fun.  Wish I were on the top level, much better view.

Throughout the whole race I was happy with the group of runners around me.  We were definitely assigned well, the pace was consistent, there were very few dodgers and very few people dropping back.  Nobody running in groups.  There were a few handicapped running with leaders, which was tricky at points.  This was the BEST paced group run I have ever experienced.  I noticed in my corral that a lot of people around me were international runners. Absolutely no rediculous costumes.

Miles 1-8 were fun and felt great.  Mostly flat if not downhill.  Average pace was about 7:40 so I was building up some extra minutes to use later.  My HR was high, in the mid 180’s, yikes, need to reel that one in.  But my breathing was not labored so I didn’t freak about it, took it as adrenaline.  Started my nutrition at mile 3 as planned with water.  This was probably the most crowded part of the route.  Had to pull over around mile 4 to tie my shoe.  Sun feels good and temp is great.  Got rid of the gloves around mile 5.

Mile 8-13 were still good although I was now 3 min over my goal and decided to taper back a bit and be mindful and get it into cruise control.  Now my average is more like 7:50 so I’m still adding to the bank and my HR is dropping from between lower 180’s to upper 170’s.  Temp still feels great and happy to see David along with other friends between 11 and 13.  Running through my neighborhood was a good spot, smelled something fresh baked and reminded me of the pizza I was going to be enjoying post race.  I’m doing well with my nutrition.  I’m stopping for water more than planned because I’m concerned I’m not getting enough in each cup.  Because the flask is in one hand I have only the other free to grab water.  Kind of wishing I had a third hand.

Pulasky bridge was a bit of a reality check.  I know there are plenty of other bridges ahead and I slowed quite a bit, everybody did.  So it’s not like I’m worried at this point because I’m not falling back, but I’m recapping all the hills ahead and know my average pace per mile is going to drop at every bridge/hill and there are at least 5 more.

Long Island City was not very memorable.  More turns than I remembered and my body felt real hot for a short while there but I knew the Queensboro bridge was coming up and we would be shaded and likely windy and cool.  I stuck to a pace that was consistent with the people around me.  In the shade with my sunglasses I cannot read my Garmin.  Picked up the pace more than others on the down side of the briged although it is quite steep so I didn’t over stride and was cautious.  Mile 15 was 9:02 ave pace (I never saw this till after the race) and 16 was 8:42.  I didn’t realize I slowed that much.  It was quite cold and a nasty cross wind, in my mind I felt I should go with the flow of traffic considering I could not read my Garmin.

First Avenue felt pretty good.  I should have been more focused on running a straight path.  Looking at my time I see I’m still ahead about 3 minutes.  Now I can’t see the seconds though so its easy to slip (the frame is not large enough to show seconds and I didn’t realize that).  First Ave were miles 17-19 and average pace there was about 7:48, so making up for time lost on the last two bridges.

Although the Willis bridge is short, it is pretty steep, and we got a bit bunched up there.  This is also the point in the race (20 mile mark) where I started to feel pain.  My HR is still really high at 181 bpm average for the race and pretty consistent average mile to mile.  I feel I’m getting enough nutrition, but maybe could have used more at this point.  I do know that my stomach felt good, I didn’t feel slushy from too much water, wasn’t thirsty, and wasn’t hungry, so maybe this is just what it feels like to run really hard even when your well fueled.  Regardless I didn’t like how it felt and the Bronx is barren, lots of turns, and not much to look forward too.

Aside from the 15-17 miles of Queensborough bridge I am still running all miles better than 8mm until now.  20 was 8:17, 21 was 8:08 and 22 and 23 I picked it up again.  Those were the 5th avenue miles in Harlem where the sun was in my face, I wanted to see my friends and family but just had to push on and stay really focused.  Also there were two songs that came up on my play list during this time that were not motivating me but didn’t want to take the time to pull it out of my pouch and fuss with it.  Good call on that.  Had a falling out with a guy at a water station who came up from behind to pass me, then cut in front of me at a water table just to stop dead in his tracks where I almost fell on top of him.  ASSHOLE.  I’m starting to worry a bit about finishing in 3:30 now because central park is getting close and I have some hills to address.

I remember seeing the 22 mile marker and thinking I only had 3 miles to go.  Somehow I missed something and I lost my nerve a bit when I realized I had 4.2 miles left.  The 5th ave portion along Central Park was terrible.  I could see all the runners in front of me but I couldn’t even focus on the crowd.  I just kept my chin up and trudged up that long hill.  Even though I ran this portion of the course about 5 weeks ago, I don’t recall this being such a long hill.  Today this hill felt worse than heartbreak hill in Boston,  Ran 8:32 for mile 24 which is the 5th ave portion to around the entry point into CP.  Mile 25 is when my quads really hurt and I was concerned about pushing though the pain.  Felt like they had grown by 1/3 their size and were big water balloons ready to burst off the bone.  Not a good feeling.  I had seen an injured runner around the 22 mile mark and It always gives me a reality check when I see someone in that much pain.  So the CP portion I didn’t push too hard and mile 25 was 8:22 pace.  This is all what I’m expecting, but not looking at the total running time on my Garmin any longer.  My wrist band which would tell me whether I am on target is twisted in such a way that I cant see the 24-26 mile times and it doesn’t really matter at this point anyway.  I can’t run any faster,  We leave CP for a flat portion of 59th street and I’m doing OK again.  I’m not feeling emotional as usual when finishing the last mile.  Its sunny, the crowd is a blur to me, I hate that some people are passing me now because its usually me who’s passing others and me finishing strong…not today.  I’m just holding on.  Miles 25-26.2 were run at 8:00.  I crossed the finish, pressed stop and was not surprised to see I missed my goal time.  It read 3:31:25.

As is typical at all marathons we all feel like complete shit.  The only sounds are the voices of the volunteers asking us to move along and congratulating us.  I think this is the first time in recent memory where I looked around at a crowd of people and nobody is looking at, or talking on a cell phone.  We are all toast.  Quickly getting cold.  I cried a bit, not sure why.  I’m not un-happy, I am in pain, I am glad its over.  Woman next to me is sniffling too.  Mostly guys, who are not crying.  I turn my tunes off.  And the texts are coming in from my family and friends.  That made break into a smile and really felt accomplished with what I had done.  This course was much harder than I had remembered.


I really don’t know how I lost a whole 1:25 when I was so far ahead of myself for 3/4 of the race and I didn’t fall apart once.  No stopping.  No digestive problems.  Even now analyzing the averages per mile I don’t understand how I ran 18 miles sub 8mm and the other 8 were not terrible 8:04; 9:02; 8:42; 8:17; 8:08; 8:32; 8:22; and 8.  My garmin said I ran 26.51 miles at an average of 7:58.5mm.  SO THERE..Once I saw that I actually ran further than my planned 26.2 I made a concession, gave myself a break and acknowledged that although I did not meet my goal of 3:30 I did run at the required sub 8 mm pace that I had been training for.   it makes sense with all the turns and the weaving along the wide avenues that I would run further then 26.2 but didn't put that into my plan.  Also amazed that I ran at an average HR of 181 BPM and my goal was 176 BPM.  My last marathon was Paris where I ran an average 176 and I really have not trained any of my workouts leading up to the marathon in the 180 range.  All my MP tempo work was 171-176.

I was happy about my starting coral #17 because it was a great group of runners.  We all belonged there and were courteous.  Because of that the pacing went well and I’ve never experienced that in a marathon.  I finished all my nutrition.  My first 400 calories were finished at the 13 mile and the other 400 calories I was working on until the 23 mile mark.  I liked carrying the flask in my hand because it helped me to take small amounts more frequently so I didn’t always need water.  I think I could have used more nutrition though.  Next marathon I  need a belt that allows for bigger flasks.  My fluid consumption was perfect.  I noticed when I got home that my urine was a good color.  I was cautious to drink early and frequently.  Probably stopped at 2/3 of the tables which line the route every mile.  Also thinking maybe I should carry some of my own so not as reliant on race water.  Vary hard to tell how much you are ingesting.  I would have preferred to take 2 cups at a time but was holding on to my flask with one hand. Also don’t like thinking about the action of making that stop for water, much better to be able to just cruise right by and not stress over the slippery areas, which cup to grab, and which runner is likely to cut you off.  I didn’t want to get too wet, especially in the early phases of the race so I probably slowed a lot more than I would  if I had two cups at a time.

I felt very comfortable in my race clothes.  New shorts, tank, hair band, new sunglasses and absolutely loved my new yourbud headphones, which were comfortable and never slipped out of place.  I think my garman was set up well in terms of capturing the most important information on the first page but wish I had seconds for my race time once I passed the hour mark.

I’m very happy that my body felt so good throughout except the last 6 miles of general fatigue.  IT band fine, hamstring insertion/origin good, ankles and feet good, no joint pain at all.  I felt very “balanced”.  Definitely will get a massage before my next marathon.

Sleep could have been better.  5 hours plus 3 restless is not so good.  Also wonder if some of my fatigue had to do with iron loss from my cycle.  Should I have been more thoughtful about iron intake the week before?

Food pre race and days going in were good.  I didn’t follow a carb load diet but did consume less protein and more carbohydrates the 3 days prior.  My appetite during my taper week was manageable and I didn’t restrict calories but was careful to not over eat.  My weight overall should have been less.  I weighed about 5 pounds more than my “comfortable” weight and that was annoying, but I trained with that weight on my frame so I don’t think my performance would have been any different had I lost weight in the last month.


Picking up my gear at the UPS truck was a breeze.  Had I finished 15 minutes later it would have been a madhouse.  I brought my black, flat Merrill shoes and clean socks to slip into and it felt good for my feet to get out of my sneakers.  Oh, my shoes felt a bit loose at the start of the race.  I wore my most thin socks and was a little worried that my heel was slipping in the beginning.  Also thought my feet would swell shortly and it would all work out.  Well it all worked out.  I didn’t have to walk far to get my gear, maybe 15 minutes (78th street between CPW and Columbus) and I was meeting David at 77th and Columbus so that all worked very well.   We walked very gingerly to the subway.  I had to walk down the stairs sideways one step at a time.  My quads are shot.  I was offered a seat on the train and questioned taking it.  Felt good to sit but the rest of the day I could not get out of a seated position without using my hands to assist me.

Of course when I got home and all I wanted was a bath my mom had to call and chat.  So I took time out to do that and then soaked with the bubble mat for about 15 min.  Tub is much better than the pins and needles feeling of water with a shower.  Took a hour nap, cleaned up, and had some friends over to celebrate with Pizza.  I ate 4 slices without an ounce of guilt.

That’s it.  Marathon # 6, 2nd NYC marathon and my 6th personal best race.  Every race I’ve gotten faster, every race I’ve learned more to take to the next one.  Writing these recaps is definitely a required component to achieving my goals.  Next marathon will be Barcelona, Spain.  March 25th 2012.  So I have about 3 weeks off including a aptly timed scuba diving vacation to the Turks and Caicos then back into training.  Should be interesting.

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* Not sure what exercises to perform and with what frequency

* Unable to motivate themselves to workout

* Don't know how best to use thier limited time for a workout

* Are repeating the same progarm at the same intensity for months at a time.

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Setting Realistic Health and Wellness Goals

It’s simply a fact that when people have goals to guide them, they are happier and achieve more than they would without having them.  Goals provide focus and a measuring stick for progress.  Goals enhance productivity, boost self-esteem, and increase commitment. Here are some tried-and true ways you can begin to move toward achieving your goals, and maintain resolve when the going gets rough.  Many of these guidelines apply to any goals, but I have added some goals that are specific to fitness and nutrition.

Put your goals in writing. The act of writing down what you are going to do is a strong motivator.  It prevents you from leaving your goals vague.  When writing goals be specific, make them measurable and specify completion dates.  Also record what your reward will be for achieving the goal.  This journey begins by creating and maintaining a training journal.

List the benefits of achieving your goal. When you write down your goals also indicate what the benefits are of accomplishing the goal.  Why is the goal important to you?  How will you benefit from reaching the goal or in the process of attaining the end result?  Now think about the pros and cons of not accomplishing the goals.  What barriers do you think may stand in your way?  Are there steps you can take to limit those barriers?

For example: I am gong to cook two days a week, once on the weekend and once during the week (specific).  My plan is to cook enough food so that I can take at least one home cooked item to work every day (measurable).  This is important to me because I enjoy cooking and its therapeutic, but because I know that the choices I make when preparing meals are healthier and more balanced than the food that is available to me at the quick stop locations near work (why it’s important).  I am going to start this process this weekend with no end date in sight (completion dates).  My reward for doing this will be to buy one guilty pleasure item (meaning one serving) at the grocery store (reward).

Set Realistic but challenging Goals. Challenging goals lead to better performance in athletics and better results in body changes or lifestyle changes.  The challenging goals require more commitment than easy goals, no goals, or trying to “do your best.”  Start by writing a challenging goal, if when you read it, your stomach gets a little nervous, then you are probably on the right track.  After week one, review your goal.  Is it still realistic, do you need to modify it to make it more realistic?

Identify Sub goals. Break down your plan into manageable chunks. Set long and short-term goals.  Write down at least three goals for the next 3-6 months and one long-term goal on the first page of your journal.  Be specific about what you need to accomplish.  Make sure each step is challenging but achievable and write it in your journal and review it regularly.

Track your progress. All of your goals should be measurable.  Write down minutes focused on cardio, on strength training, on stretching, and on core work.  Use the scale or even better a tape measure to review body composition goals.  Keep track of weekly totals.  If goals include better overall health, what does that really mean?  Less sick days, better sleep, better energy, increased mental focus, more joy in your life, more time for yourself.  These are also measurable, you just need to record how you are feeling and the actions you took that lead to that feeling.  So if a goal is to take 1 hour 5 times a week to do something relaxing, you would need to make a list of things that are relaxing and then record in your journal what you did and how you felt.  At the end of the week you have something quantifiable, but only if you write it down.

Be honest with yourself. When you are discouraged, feeling stuck, or are not making progress look at your meal planning schedule and your training schedule.  Did you miss four scheduled training sessions in the last month?  Was there a vacation or a family blow out celebration?  Maybe you are not getting enough sleep or your diet has been poor.  If something is not going well, write about it and then add something at the end to indicate how you can improve if that situation was to arise again.

Visual and Measurable. With weight or body composition goals, use pictures and tape measurements more than numbers on a scale to track weight and body composition goals.  Measure every week.  Do you have a photo of you at your ideal weight?  Put it on the refrigerator, or your bathroom mirror.  Someone told me this, I’ve never tried it but it’s pretty funny.  If you have trouble staying away from the refrigerator, take your bathing suit and put it in the refrigerator.  Do you have a favorite dress or pair of pants that you would love to be able to wear comfortably again?  Put it in an easily accessible spot in your closet and try it on every so often.

Daily Reminders. There is tremendous power in the simple act of putting your goals in writing and reviewing daily.  Once your goals are written out place reminders, as brief as need be, in areas you will notice throughout the day.  A post-it note on your computer, refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or in your car will suffice.  You need to be reminded of the goals frequently throughout the day.

Enlist the help of others. Find someone, a family member, coworker, friend, or teammate with whom you share a common goal.  Take your commitment public and tell others about your goals. If you have a blog include it there as well.  Having a partner, or simply putting your goal “out there” can help you stay committed and motivated.  Look for role models, people who have already achieved the goals you seek to reach.  Ask them for advice and suggestions.  Find out how they got where they are, and incorporate what you learn into your plan.

Reward yourself each step of the way. No matter how minor you think your progress is, let yourself feel good about all accomplishments.  Thank yourself, recognize your accomplishment and commitment and never let an action go unrecognized. When you hit a goal, celebrate; recognize that you met the goal.  Accomplishments should always be celebrated and not ignored.  For each sub goal you reach treat yourself to rewards that will give you a lift.

Recognizing all your accomplishments is extremely important. I never take for granted my accomplishments.  Here’s a little story from a training run this past winter.

About 7 years ago my husband and I decided to ride our bikes out to Coney Island instead of taking the subway.  We though it was quite a journey and wondered whether we would have the energy to bike back later that day.  It's 7 years later and I’m training for the Paris Marathon.  I did a long run this Saturday, 24 miles, and choose a new route I’d never run before.  I took that some route we took on our bikes that summer and ran from Red Hook Brooklyn to Prospect Park, up Ocean Avenue, past a snow covered Cyclone and hit mile 12 at the parachute drop at Coney Island.  I took time out to have some water and an energy bar and reflected on that summer day when I thought is was a big deal to ride our bikes out here.  Funny thing is on the bike it felt like a lot longer than 12 miles.  Even though I’ve run a few marathons and I know what my body is capable of there was a moment of awe.  I couldn’t believe how my life and my body had transformed since then.  I gave thanks for my healthy body and continued on my way home for another 12 miles.  I celebrated that run simply by writing about it in my blog and recognizing that 7 years ago I never would have thought of running 24 miles just for fun.

Make Small Changes for Big Rewards

When your diet is focused on detoxification it is also very important to get regular exercise as it stimulates sweating and encourages elimination through the skin. Exercise, including weight training also improves our general metabolism and helps overall with detoxification.  For this reason, regular aerobic exercise along with weight training is key to maintaining a nontoxic body, especially when we indulge in various substances such as sugar, caffeine, or alcohol.  Since exercise releases toxins in the body, it is important to incorporate adequate fluids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Sometimes people get discouraged because they set goals that are a bit unrealistic and then punish themselves for not accomplishing their goals fully.  In truth, the longest-term success starts with small, short-term goals.  I find when my clients set weekly or mothly goals it leads to more permanent changes in their food choices and physical activity level.  Try these simple strategies to keep yourself on track.

  1. Keep track of your progress.  Try keeping a simple journal of your day’s activities including sleeping, eating, exercise and entertainment to discover the glitches and negative habits holding you back from your aspirations.
  2. Find more ways to move.  Sure, a 30-minute cardio workout at the gym is ideal for breaking a sweat, but committing to adding small doses of additional movement throughout your day will help put you in a mindset for exercise.  Opt for the stairs, add an extra walk to your dog’s schedule, get off the subway a stop early, hit pedestrian-friendly shopping areas, spend 15 minutes when you immediately get home for some stretching or yoga.
  3. Fatigue your muscles.  Don’t’ be afraid of lifting some weight and sweating a bit.  Fear of bulking up keeps many people (primarily women) from challenging themselves with heavier weights.  If you skimp on the pounds, you won’t stimulate the need for muscles to grow stronger and tighter.  Choose enough weight so you can complete eight to 12 reps. The last rep should be tough, but not so difficult that you can’t maintain good form.