Running Under the Radar

“What are you training for?”, “What’s your next race?”, and “What’s your goal?”

These questions typically come up in conversation when I get together with my fellow runners and friends.

I admire those who proudly pronounce their big, hairy, and audacious goals (BHAG) and aspirations. I am typically open about sharing my goals and ambitions – qualifying for the Boston Marathon being one of them. There are times when I like to share, and other times where I would rather run under the radar.

Traditional goal setting says that announcing your goals is beneficial because it allows others to hold you accountable, and also provides a chance for you to further define and clarify your goals. According to a TED talk from David Sivers, however, announcing your goals may make them less likely to happen. According to his talk, by telling others your goal, you may get a psychological satisfaction of accomplishing the goal without having to do the work. This early satisfaction may hinder your motivation to put in the work to actually accomplish your goal.

But whatever the reason, there might be times when you would rather just keep your goals and training plans to yourself. You might have superstitions about sharing your goal, a secret training plan that you don’t want to disclose, or perhaps you don’t feel ready to put yourself out there. And that is perfectly fine!

A few weeks ago, I allowed myself to partake in a stealth race. Prior to the race, I did not tell anyone I would be running and would shy away from any questions regarding upcoming races or plans for that particular race weekend. It had been a while since I had last raced so I was itching to get back into it and see how my training was progressing. I did have a goal in mind, but I did not want any added expectations so I kept quiet. For my stealthy race attempt, I chose to run the Brazen Racing Hellyer 5k. Brazen Racing has a reputation of putting on great trail races in the Bay Area and I enjoy participating in them as either a runner or a volunteer.

Quite a few of my friends were racing the half marathon distance or volunteering at the race that day so sneaking in a stealth race proved to be tricky. The morning of the race, I volunteered to help out at the race with parking duty, then a little before the start of the 5k, snuck away to do a quick warm up, pin on my race bib, and line up in the starting corral. With the 5k event being the last event started, I had the opportunity to finish before a majority the half marathoners and 10k finishers. As soon as the race started, I was in stealth race mode.

I even had an awesome rabbit to hide behind and pace me in to the finish.

Though I was spotted by a few friends during and immediately after the race, I had managed to go mostly unnoticed. It wasn’t until race results were posted that my cover was completely blown, but overall mission accomplished – I achieved my goal and had a great race.

It’s important to have goals whether you decide to share them or not. Do you like to share your goals with others or do you prefer to keep them to yourself?

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