Setting Expectations

Jan 20, 2021

Every athlete has unique aspirations, levels of fitness, and God-given abilities. When working with athletes, it may take a while to communicate and analyze to set a baseline.  Often, athletes set big goals, and that is great.  A big goal for some may not seem big for others.  It is important to understand the starting point when mapping out a target.  Paula and I have learned over the years to set reasonable yet challenging goals for ourselves based on our individual fitness.  Here are some of the big goals we have had for ourselves:


  • Run a 10-minute mile
  • Run an 8-minute mile – (now she can do a half-marathon in 8 minutes/mile)
  • Break 1:50 in the half marathon – (ran 1:46)
  • Run Boston – (Has now qualified twice and completed the 2020 Boston Virtual)
  • Complete an Ironman (finished Ironman Louisville in 2017)
  • Complete the Abbott World Marathon Challenge – (in progress)


  • Break 1:20 in the half marathon – (ran 1:17)
  • Break 2:50 in the marathon – (ran 2:48)
  • Run a sub-5 minute mile as a master – (ran 4:57 and it was one of the most painful 5 minutes of his life!)
  • Compete in the Ironman World Championships – (accomplished in 2016)
  • Run a sub 3:00 marathon in New York – (in progress)
  • Complete the Abbott World Marathon Challenge – (in progress)
  • Train for and race at least one cycling time trial event - (someday)

Paula’s God-given ability is different than mine.  Through persistence and patience, she has been able to set and accomplish increasingly challenging goals.  I set goals that have been difficult but reasonable for me and worked hard to reach them.

Your goals may be similar to ours or quite a bit different.  Regardless, persistence, consistency, and patience are the keys to reaching them.

Some athletes only have the end in mind.  However, many don’t take into consideration their starting point.  You need to know where you are in order to know how to get where you are going.  Big goals may take a while to accomplish.  If you want to start a training cycle to hit a big goal 16 weeks out, that may be unrealistic based on how close you are.  Training at a level that is necessary to reach the goal may be more than your level of fitness can tolerate.  The result will likely be frustration and injury.

You’ve heard the saying that “life is a marathon, not a sprint”.  In a marathon, you must have patience.  You must have good pacing.  You must have a plan.  When aiming for a big goal, you need to pace yourself to improve gradually over time.  Don’t give up.  Don't get frustrated.  Be patient.  Paula and I spent many years improving to reach our big goals.  You can do it, too.

Next Steps

It’s hard to be patient when you have big goals.  Having a coach can help you make good decisions to keep you moving forward and keep you off the sidelines.  If you are interested in having a coach, we are here to help.  Join our team.


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