Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On Boston, big hairy audacious goals, and planning paralysis

1. It's Boston Marathon registration season, which always sparks discussion about how many qualifiers are actually going to be able to register. 

Let's say that again, another way: for several years now, a small percentage of people who qualified for Boston have not actually been able to get in. That's because the fastest qualifiers get to register first in the first week, then it fills up and the squeakers-in have to wait and find out if they have squeaked in by enough. 

Should the qualifying standards be tightened (again)? (A brief history is here.) 

Lots of great discussion over at Salty Running. Obviously there's no such thing as an infinitely large race, and as running's popularity grows, so does the number of people training to qualify. How to deal with the problem of more qualifiers than spots? Some think the standards should be tightened once again to shrink the field to a manageable size. Others feel that the fastest-get-in-first system works best. And then there's some discussion about whether some of the standards are too soft. 

I have approximately as much chance of BQing as I have of performing successful brain surgery - if anything, I'll probably perform the brain surgery sooner - so I gave up commenting because I don't feel I'm really Boston-qualified to comment on this particular issue. (I can literally see the Citgo sign from my apartment and it taunts me whenever I remember: "Too bad, GCA! You'll never perform brain surgery!") But I'd love to know what you, my dear readers, think! 

Image result for citgo sign boston

What do you think about Boston standards? Should they be tightened? Too difficult? Too soft? What to do about the gap? 

2. I am going to talk for a moment, however, about big hairy audacious goals. 

I do have a big hairy audacious running goal in mind; it's a time goal that I'm not going to reveal other than saying that it involves a marathon, it's not BQing, and not quite as much of a stretch as brain surgery. (More on a par, say, with becoming an astronaut.) But it is still a big hairy audacious goal that is quite far away. Probably a couple of years or more. 

Except that I haven't thought about the plan, other than the first two steps ('run a half, preferably in less than 2 hours' and 'run another'). Beyond that? Get a coach? Hire a personal trainer? Eat better? Reduce other life commitments so I can devote more time to said BHAG? I'm kind of paralysed about what to do next or what this big hairy audacious multi-year plan contains. Sort of like, "You don't even have a pilot's license, how will you become an astronaut?" I don't even know if steps 1 and 2 are doable.

I don't have an easy solution for the doubt, but I am pretty sure almost every runner has been through this at one point or another. My mantra when I need a confidence boost about a long-term goal is 'look where you go, and go where you look'. But motivation is one thing. Figuring out a workable plan is another. What's your method? 


  1. 1. Wouldn't making stricter time standards be pretty much equivalent of what's going on now anyway? (faster people get in)
    2. Ooh, BHAG!! Could it be sub-4? That would be my dream goal for CIM this year, but I don't think it's plausible (maybe a 1% chance that it could happen). I think I'm the kind of person that chips away at things. But then again, I'm kind of a wimp, so don't listen to me. ;)

    1. 1. Yeah - then again, you might have the 'gap' problem recur as people just train to meet those faster standards in response!
      2. ;) I wonder if we just don't know how to *race*? :) Like, I have no idea how hard to go in a half. I just don't. When my brain starts to say bad things, I just back off. I'm a wimp too...

  2. I forgot to register this year. No Boston for me.

    1. Doh! You have a LOT going on this year, anyway. Go qualify at Twin Cities and register next year!