Gautam Kandlikar

Work hard, ball harder. That's the key.

Reflections: Goal Setting (10/16-10/22)

Cross-posting from Strava. Yes Strava allows you to do posts now.

Whoa. Strava has the ability for everyone to “post” now. Wonderful. This is something I’ve been anticipating for quite some time.

This weeks marks the third full week since my “A” race – the Twin Cities Marathon which I ran on October 1. I should feel supremely satisfied, not only with having met my goal, but also with following my pacing strategy and having finished strongly. And I mean STRONGLY.

Twin Cities Marathon link:

That it would take a couple of weeks to recover from the marathon is something I had calculated. The last couple of weeks have been somewhat busy. Having something to take my mind off running has been a good thing. But now that I’m into my third week, I’m feeling somewhat disappointed. I still haven’t been able to put any serious effort into my runs. Whenever I try to kick it up a notch, I seem to be overcome by tiredness, and recovering from this tiredness seems to take longer than normal. By the third week, I had projected being able to get back into 40 mpw. Somehow hitting two thirds of that feels like a chore.

Perhaps I’m in a post marathon funk. The blogosphere is full of amateur and pros asking themselves “what’s next?” after a marathon. There are three common situations I see:

  1. The runner did not meet his/her goal; he/she reflects on the training and tries to determine what can be adjusted to meet subsequent goals.
  2. The runner did not meet his/her goal; he/she reflects on whether long distance running is the right pastime, and whether he/she might enjoy other activities more.
  3. The runner meets his/her goal, and tries to determine what his/her new goal ought to be.

While the last outcome is more desirable than the others when reminiscing about the past, no one of the above outcomes is desirable over the other when attempting to determine a path for the future. We often bring emotional baggage into goal setting particularly when we are in the shadows of a recent event. Here’s an example: just last week, my mind started rationalizing the idea that, having shed 15+ minutes off the marathon in one year, perhaps I can shed 30 more over the next two years, and then attempt to shed 8 a year for the subsequent 5. That’s right, I somehow started thinking about what it would take to run a 2:20 marathon and just broke it down into mathematical statements:

15 mins/yr * 2 yrs = 30 mins. 3h 30m – 30 m = 3h.
8 mins/yr * 5 yrs = 40 mins. 3h – 40 m = 2h 20m.

Never mind that a 2:20 marathon means 26.2 miles at under 5:30 per mile. I have yet to run a 5:30 mile. But, in my euphoric state, I was blinded by my sense of achievement and found a perfectly rational path to what I consider a near-mythical achievement. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a 2:20 marathon is impossible (duh, since people break this barrier all the time!) What I’m saying is that, perhaps that achievement requires more than just adequate training (e.g. favorable genetics). So perhaps a 2:20 (let’s just the time is a proxy for an Olympic Trial qualification) might be a pipe dream.

There are lots of things to ponder about goal setting: When am I set them? Am I being realistic? What are the assumptions that will help me succeed at this goal? What timeframe should I give myself to achieve the goal? When I snapped back from my euphoric vision of an olympic trial qualification, I veered in the extreme opposite direction. There are several “segments” around where I live where I have yet to break top-10. Perhaps if I focused myself on breaking top-10 here first, I might start thinking of bigger and better things. I have several segment-specific goals* for the year-end now. My plan for the remainder of the year is to continue churning out decent mileage, but put in enough variety in speed work, intervals, hills, and endurance runs that will help me succeed at any of these segments. Perhaps coming next spring I might shed 15 minutes from my marathon time, who knows?

Hasta la vista.

* By the way If this is something you are interested in, you can navigate to the following link:


American Time Use Survey

This is a visualization created by reddit user /u/halhen using the American Time Use Survey data posted on kaggle.

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) is the Nation’s first federally administered, continuous survey on time use in the United States. The goal of the survey is to measure how people divide their time among life’s activities… The major purpose of ATUS is to develop nationally representative estimates of how people spend their time… The survey also provides information on the amount of time people spend in many other activities, such as religious activities, socializing, exercising, and relaxing… Demographic information—including sex, race, age, educational attainment, occupation, income, marital status, and the presence of children in the household—also is available for each respondent.

Surprised (and sad) to see running is so disproportionately well off, even within the US. It is one of the least expensive of the hobbies listed.

Heartening to see though


On running and community

I saw this article recently about a local runner and her journey. I don’t know Laurie personally but her story is awesome. And big props to the Tacoma Runners group. It is great to see that despite the steady growth (a LOT of people come to the runs) they have been able to maintain an inclusive culture.

Tacoma’s Laurie Campbasso runs her way to better health, loses 70 pounds | The Olympian

Campobasso has used running and walking to lose more than 70 pounds. (She said she weighed at least 275 pounds before her knee surgery.)

She said finding the Tacoma Runners was a pivotal moment in journey. She ran and walked with the group on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. And by the end of 2014, she signed up for her first half marathon.

“Tacoma Runners accepted me day one even though my doctor said I could only walk,” Campobasso said.

On Variety in Training

When we train we may have a specific goal in mind. But it’s easy to lull ourselves into a false sense of specificity. Eg. That 2 hour half you are looking to run might be possible in ideal weather with 8 hours of sleep. But sometimes you are dealt 90% humidity or a sleepless night… what then?

One cannot, of course, structure her training around such contingencies. But one can create a regimen that exposes her to a variety of weather, geography, etc. that prepares her to face any circumstance. Experience can, in fact, be cultivated. Just try running a different route or run at different times of the day; skipping breakfast or having less clothing on should get you thinking. If you react unfavorably, you have found a new area for growth. Whether you choose to address it is a different story.

At the start line and at each mile marker you want to be confident about meeting your goal. Your breadth in training will help you relate your race conditions better to prior experiences, and maximize your chances of success.

Plan B

So I came up with a few ideas for things we can do to simulate the social experience of Ragnar in the event that our registration does not work out. I hope this is helpful. 🙂 There’s lots to do hereabouts, and I don’t want you folks to leave disappointed if the whole Ragnar dealio doesn’t work out.


Option 0.

The “Easy” option. We can run around Lake Sammamish/Washington/Union. Sammamish has a nice trail along the lake (20 + miles) and it connects with Lake Washington. Lk Washington does not have a continuous trail, so it’s a little more tricky.) Union is tiny, but probably has the best views of Downtown Seattle.





Option 1.

We can do a relay up Mount Rainier. The mountain is super close to Seattle and has excellent running and hiking trails. Lots of elevation changes here as well, but you are not starting at as high a base… somewhere like 2500 feet. The mountain is amazing and there is plenty to see along the road that goes through the National Park… waterfalls, meadows, cool geological features, you name it. Requires National Park pass. I have one which can accommodate 4-5 people total, but otherwise it’s $25/vehicle I think. Small price for tons of fun.


Option 2.

It is somewhat challenging to find lots of flat trails in the Seattle area (there are just so many darn mountains!) We could do a “mini” relay along the Olympic Discovery Trail ( We would start from Discovery Bay and make it to Port Angeles, then turn around. Or if you are feeling super adventurous, we can make it to the Pacific Coast (does involve some strenuous uphill at parts though I can volunteer for that.) This would also be super close to the Seattle area (1 hr drive) but of course I haven’t vetted out this course for closures, etc. Here’s a fun Strava Segment I created:

Option 3.

We can do a relay along the rim of Crater Lake in Oregon. I was down there in early May and there was still a lot of snow on the ground so the rim access roads were closed. They are open now. The rim road is 30+ miles in length so we could do four person relays. Note: the gym is at an elevation of 7000 ft give or take and lots of ups and downs so you would have to be ready for this kind of thing. Also Crater Lake is in central OR, which is a reasonably long drive away so takes a while to get there. Not unlike Blaine WA where we have to go for the start of Ragnar. Same note about National Park pass applies here.

Run Blog – 4th of July edition

Meaning in running #693

Proud of this gentleman:

I have a very unique situation in that I am currently on  parole.  I’d like to make it clear that my time incarcerated was due to non-violent crimes as the result of addiction.  Anyway the way this affects my time management is that I have a curfew in effect from 8 pm to 8 am.  I have a job in manual labor so my day starts early and I can usually get home in plenty of time to run before curfew.  Sometimes I work some overtime that means I walk in the door at 630 after a 12 hour day and have to run right back out the door to make it back by 8.  Once in a while I have to choose between going out to dinner with family or going on my run.  It’s been tough but running is saving my life so I make it work however I can.