MMRF Endurance Events

Marathon Training Tips - Week 15


Week #15 – Performance and Process Goals

In my column last week, I discussed the concept of setting a time goal for your marathon or half marathon, otherwise known in the sports psychology world as an outcome goal. As much as we all want to finish our race in a predetermined time, there are two additional types of goals that will help you have your best race without the added stress of a concrete finishing time. These are performance goals and process goals.

Performance Goals specify an end result of competition independent of other runners. These are much easier to set in team sports but they can have applications to endurance athletes and marathon runners in particular. I consider Performance Goals in marathon running as those that focus on the "strategic" elements of racing. They may include:

  • Holding back on the first few miles

  • Making use of the downhills while running

  • Keeping heart rate in a predetermined zone

  • Using self talk to improve performance

  • Sticking to a nutrition/hydration plan

  • Running the tangents

I define Process Goals as those that focus on technique. Examples may include:

  • Keeping arms relaxed and swinging back-to-front while running

  • Running with a soft foot strike

  • Keeping hands relaxed and soft

  • Increasing foot turnover towards the end of the run

The great thing about these two types of goal-setting strategies is that if you implement them they will ultimately help you have your best race. You can be successful at achieving performance and process goals regardless of the course layout or the race day conditions. They will enable you to focus on the truly important aspects of racing and you will enjoy the event exponentially more.

Your homework for the upcoming week? I want you to write down five performance and five process goals for your triathlon. Now get to work!