How to pick a time goal

“Once you realize failing doesn’t make you a failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things”

This video was so motivating and a great intro to picking a time goal! Whether you are new to racing or not, deciding on a time goal can be challenging. If you have a coach he/she will really be able to help with this. If not, here are some ways that I have used to help me pick a goal time for races.

To start with, you are either going to be using a current race time to go off of or you are not.

If you don’t have a current race time to guide you:

– If you are running a 5k, I suggest running a timed mile. You may want to add 10-20 seconds per mile to this time and use that as a good 5k goal. It is always best to start out slower and end fast ( I am personally not great with this).

– If you are more of a distance runner and are only interested in half and full marathons then a good place to start will be your comfortable hard pace. This is a pace that you can hold for a while, but it is hard. Obviously your half and full marathon paces will be different. For a half goal I would take 10-20 seconds off of this comfortably hard pace. For a full I would add 10-20 seconds per mile.

– For me this looks like this. My comfortable hard pace is around 7:20. This would put my half marathon pace around 7 and my full around 7:40. This is pretty much exactly where I am.

If you are working with a current race time, but looking at another distance:

If you have run a race recently, but are looking at running another distance and wondering what your goal should be I would go here: MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE RUNNING

This chart is from Mark Hadley’s coaching training paces. He has equivalent paces for almost any race distance you can think of.

I always set 3 goals for myself.

Goal A- A great time for me. A time that I know I can most likely achieve when everything is clicking and I feel great.

Goal B- Still a good time and usually a more realistic goal based on my training.

Goal C- Enjoy the race. This may not be my day as far as time goes, but I paid for this and I am going to enjoy it.

For my fall marathon my A goal was 3:20. This seemed physically doable, but scary. My B goal was 3:25. Definitely more realistic. Hard, but not as scary. My C goal was no time :).

I want to challenge myself and set high goals, but I also know that not every race is going to be a PR.

The hard work and training is beneficial even when the race does not reflect it.


Do you set goals that scare you?

What is your next race and your goal for it?

Do you ever have trouble deciding what time you should be shooting for?


    • Jen says

      Thanks!!! It is not a exact science :)..but it really has seemed to work for me and been pretty accurate

  1. says

    I absolutely LOVE that video and had not seen it! This is a perfect start to my day.
    As you know, I fell short of my time goal for the marathon BUT I was using that race as a test. I now know what needs to be done to get me to 3:20 (dare I say 3:15?) in NY this fall. So YES I set goals that scare me but, with enough hard work, I know I can reach them.
    GOOD LUCK this weekend!!!! Cannot wait to see what happens!

    • Jen says

      I LOVED that video too!!!
      I really had that 3:20 time goal in my mind for the two marathons that I ran before Richmond. Each time I didn’t get it I was one step closer to getting it!!!! I would DEFINITELY say 3:15 for you!!!! I am daring to say 3:15 (maybe even 3:10) for my fall marathon!!! I am getting excited to work on my training plan!!!

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