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How I Use the Jack Daniels Formula: Goal-Setting, Part I©

My “Personal Inventory” Phase of using the Daniels’ VDOT Chart is a relatively easy exercise. It simply involves identifying and documenting historical times for various race distances on the Chart.

The next step, Goal-Setting, using the VDOT information, becomes more difficult since it is as much a statistical exercise as it is an emotional one. On the one hand, we may not be convinced that we are capable of achieving a particular performance goal because we have scant historical evidence of personal achievement. On the other hand, we may be over-confident and unrealistic about our ability to achieve a goal because we have a strong history of achievement along with a proven “winning formula”. Both situations could be problematic from a practical and motivational point of view. Creating a nurturing environment for an “underachiever” is just as challenging as creating a highly structured environment for an achiever.

As a coach, I can often create some freedom around goal-setting by discovering some of the underlying motivation/logic for the goal. For example, I sometimes have clients who have been very successful in some other aspect of their lives, such as work or even another athletic endeavor, and who believe that the same talent, work ethic, and methodologies that applied elsewhere can be directly transferrable to running performance/yield analogous performance results. They may have tapped out their talents in another field and are simply to testing their chops in running, or these individuals may be driven by a person (such as their father) or group of persons (such as classmates) whose belief it is that the individual will not be successful.

Working with such clients requires an approach balancing “honest reality” based on performance and capacity, and “hopeful reality” fueled by personal drive and faith. In every case, physical restrictions – aerobic capacity, speed, personal training limits, etc. – will always determine the upper boundaries of performance. My job is to identify and quantify the goals and facilitate the journey to create and achieve those personal limits.

Starting with the exercise physiology of my goal-setting discussion, each Daniels’ Chart VDOT level represents a performance “break-thru”. The Chart is a good place to start the goal-setting process because it gives a specific number and associated performance marks across all of the distances measured by a particular VDOT level. The numbers are brutally honest but they also are completely objective and make no value judgements. They simply “are what they are”. To the extent that we can accept them, we will be more powerful in developing our goals and designing and sustaining an optimal training program to achieve them.

My next blog will address the actual process of developing a performance time, the date and venue, and a personal race strategy.


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