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Running Goals: Macro Versus Micro

Are your running goals defined by times and race distances? Or do you have other criteria?

Falling short of a goal forces us to re-evaluate.

Time and distance goals are used to achieve my bigger goals in running. They are tools to chase moments where I truly feel alive. Goals can be differentiated into macro versus micro.

Micro Goals

Micro goals are simple and measurable. Examples are:

  • Run your first 5km
  • Run a sub 40 minute 10km
  • Complete 100km ultra marathon
  • Cover 80km in a training week
  • Run every day for 30 days

These goals give your something objective to aim for. Help guide your training and racing. Provide structure in what you do.

Does it matter if you hit these goals?

Reality of Running Goals

Most people don’t really care how fast your race is. That’s a good thing.

Racing 10km in 39:58 versus 40:03 may feel like a big deal to yourself. It usually doesn’t rate that much to others. Those who care about you tend to care more about what the goal means to you. Not about the specifics of the goal.

Will achieving the goal change your life?

It’s the process that can change your life. Not the goal. We can bring up exceptions to this. Such as having to run a certain to qualify for another race or gain team selection. This isn’t the case for most runners.

But don’t use this to down play the importance of setting goals.

What Are Macro Goals?

Macro goals are your ‘why

Your goal doesn’t have to be massively profound. It can be as simple as you enjoy chasing fast times in a race. Other examples can include:

  • You want to feel healthier
  • You enjoy the act of running
  • Running clears your mind
  • It just feels right
  • You chase the feeling of achievement

You can get more in depth and detailed. The important concept is this is truly why we run.

Understanding your macro goal means it’s easier to make choices. If your macro goal is about gaining a qualification time then you can choose to sacrifice some other aspects of your lifestyle. If your goal is to be healthy for your family, then you can be comfortable that running 10km is fine versus 15km. It comes back to what you really want.

My Own Macro Running Goals

I chase a certain feeling. That feeling is the moment when I feel truly alive.

Everything in my life is enhanced when I feel like this.

This feeling comes from moments. These moments occur when:

  • the noise is stripped away
  • the task feels impossible
  • time feels distorted
  • I am broken down to my core

Running provides me the opportunity to achieve this. It feels innately natural for me to use running to chase this feeling. Something special happens here. It is in this space where there is an interplay between success and failure.

This is why I run.

Thinking About Goals: Training Log

The week after the Surf Coast Century Relay was about recovery and thinking about goals.


I was unsuccessful in my 2018 Running Goals. More on that after we look at the last week of running.

The running was kept easy. Looking to feel more than comfortable on each run, but concentrating on keeping good form. The work was in staying away from the lazy running style that tries to sneak in after a race. For the most part I seemed to get this right.

  • Regeneration 4km
  • Regeneration 6km
  • Regeneration 10km
  • Day off
  • Easy, no watch, no goal, no GPS, possibly 8km
  • Easy 10km
  • Easy 10km

Total 50km / week


Thinking About Goals


I had 2 big goals for 2018:

  1. Wings For Life World Run (cover more than marathon distance)
  2. Hard Core 100 Mile (sub 24 hours, with back up of finish)

In the Wings For Life World Run I only managed 28.4km. A long way off the 42.195km. For the Hard Core 100 Mile I didn’t finish the race, having to pull out at 110km (50km short).

Naturally there is some disappointment. Surprisingly I still feel good about those races and my running for the year. You learn a lot from your mistakes and I learnt a lot this year.


Different Types Of Goals


At the moment I haven’t decided on any future goal races. Sorting out the family calendar comes first. Around that is where my running fits.


Race goals will come later. Now I’m working on training goals. At the moment I will be working on 2 goals:

  1. Improving the feel of running (remove the heavy feeling ultra distance running has created)
  2. Improve my fitness set point to what I term as Marathon ready

These goals deserve full posts on their own. Pursuing them will require some changes in training. As a bonus I think those changes will be a little more time friendly. Based on the last year that’s something that’s need.







How To Train Without A Goal Race: 3 Steps To Setup Your Running

How do you get your training together when you don’t have a goal race?

We’ve heard it before so many times before. Focus on your goal. Use your upcoming race to kick up your motivation. What if you don’t have a goal race? How do you get your training together?

This is the situation I find myself in at the moment. Just out of a failed attempt in a 100 mile race. I pick race goals to challenge me. They are big enough they require getting other aspects of my life in sync to achieve. As a result I don’t pick the big races lightly. I’ll take my time to see what resonates with me.

In the meantime I still need to train.

Here’s 3 Steps To Train Without A Goal Race

1. Make Yourself Injury Proof
2. Develop Your Aerobic Capacity
3. Create Training Goals


1. Make Yourself Injury Proof


The biggest influence on missed training is injury. If you can avoid the down time or reduced quality of training due to injury you will be much better.

If you are recently injured or have an ongoing problem, now is the time to sort it out. Get the issue properly assessed. Whether that be through a doctor who understands running, a good physiotherapist, a knowledgable coach or other person you trust. Find out the cause of the problem and fix it.

Each person and injury is different. For a general approach I find the following effective:
⦁ Dedicate 2-3 x 15 minutes each week to exercises dedicated your main injury concern
⦁ Include 2 general, whole body strength training sessions each week
⦁ Keep the majority of running within your current ability


2. Develop Your Aerobic Capacity


By aerobic capacity I mean the ability to move quickly for a long time without the build up of anaerobic byproducts. The exact details may vary depending on if you prefer to race 5km versus ultra marathons, but there is a good deal of crossover. There is a lot of evidence of suggesting most training should be well below your anaerobic threshold. Different training systems have different ways of arriving at a similar intensity level.

That level appears to correspond with the intensity where energy production is about a 50/50 split between fat versus carbohydrate. A bit slower than most trained runners could run a marathon. About 80-85% of anearobic threshold. RIght at what is sometimes termed as the first lactate threshold. Performing a consistent amount of training at this level leads to becoming fast at lower effort levels.

Personally I use the Maffetone Aerobic Function Heart Rate (MAF HR) as an easy guide. It may not be exact, but it gets fairly close. I find it practical and offers the ability to perform reliable field tests to check progress.

Developing your aerobic capacity raises your base running fitness. The training isn’t sexy, but given some consistency over time it sets you up for some big improvements.


3. Create Training Goals


Instead of having a big race goal. Set short term, attainable and progressive training goals.

Early on I stay clear of specific pace goals. Instead I focus on goals that set up good training habits. Such as:
⦁ Perform 2 general, whole body strength training sessions each week
⦁ Have the next day’s training clothes ready the night before
⦁ Resist the urge to surge at the end of run and stick to my heart rate zone
⦁ Cut up a fruit salad before training so it is ready for when I finish

Those goals can be anything. Think outside set times for certain distances. Go back to the process and use your motivation set up some strong habits.


Training Cycle


Time away from purely focusing on races is a necessary part of the training cycle. Give your mind and body a bit of freedom. Fix those injuries. Make yourself injury resistant. Improve your aerobic capacity. Create training goals and train without a race goal.

What is your approach?

2018 Running Goals

Big goals have you do more than just go through the motions. I need to make my running come alive.


It has been too long since I’ve run something that feels big. Big doesn’t have to be distance. It is bigger than that. By big, I mean something that really excites me. Something that pushes me.  Goals need to feel just outside my reach.


I’ve brought my health and fitness back up to a level I’m happy with. It is a level from which I can direct my training towards bigger goals. It has taken more time to get here than I thought it would.


Over the last couple of months I’ve looked through race calendars. There are so many races now. Spoilt for choice. It doesn’t make it easier for me. The races tend to blur into each other. Nothing immediately stood out as a must do event above all the others.


I kept searching. Reading all I could. Reading blogs. Followed discussions in running groups. Eventually I kept coming back to the same events. These events put some extra fuel on my fire. They are the races that make me want to push my limits.


The Races


Two key races are in my sights for next year. They are:


Wings For Life World Run


There is a uniqueness to this event. Being chased by the finish line is an awesome concept.


I want to make this event an ultra marathon. Running further than 42.195km is a big ask for me.  It will require getting back to speeds I haven’t hit for years. I’ll need to be around my marathon PR shape and then hold it for longer.


Right now I’m at 19:13 for a flat 5km. A long of way off the marathon 2:58:44 I set 8 years ago. Am I a marathon has been? Living in the past? Only one way to find out.



Hardcore 100 Mile


This will be my first 100 mile ultra marathon. Further than I have run before. Finishing will be a massive challenge in itself. I want to do more than finish. I want to find push it out to as fast as I can go.

This is an ultra marathon that is likely to teach me new lessons. I want to be a student.

It is set up as 20km loop in the You Yangs. That’s 8 laps to bring up the full race distance. On each loop you go up and down Flinders Peak. Apparently it is a very runnable course. Nothing crazy technical. That doesn’t make it easier than an ultra marathon with big mountains. It is a different challenge when you can potentially run it all. I may be looking for an excuse to walk.





Both these races scare me. They are in a setting that makes it impossible to hide. There is no faking these races. They give me a fear of failure, and I like it.


The Wings For Life World Run should be a good lead in to the Hardcore 100. There are other races I’ll throw into the mix. They won’t be my training priority which means I won’t be peaking for them. In the races I won’t be holding back either.


Stay tuned and I’ll take you through my training program. That’s for another post. Make sure you keep up and subscribe: