"You can't climb up to the second floor without a ladder . . . When you set your aim too high and don't fulfill it, then your enthusiasm turns to bitterness. Try for a goal that's reasonable, and then gradually raise it. That's the only way to get to the top."
Easy for a guy who won the 5k, 10k, and marathon in the same Olympics to say. But, he has a very good point - even more for those of us who run for purely recreational purposes. Yes - you have to put some pressure on yourself to run your best - but, you have to be realistic of what you can do given your ability, time to train, age etc . . .
Back when I started this blog I layed out some goals for Boston. My "A" goal was to break 2:30 - but, I was sure to include some less challenging goals because you never know what's going to happen - or how your body is going to respond to training.
I won't make a final goal until after my half marathon tune up on 3/21 - but, my training so far seems to point to a 2:33-34. That would still be a PR - and I certainly would be happy about that kind of time. But, it's very tempting to go for the sub 2:30 anyways - 2:29 might be only 2 minutes faster than 2:31 - but, it sure sounds better. However, I've already tried foolishness like that at the 2007 NYC marathon and paid for it. I was right at 1:15 at the half and struggled through a 1:22 second half. I completly lost motivation for 3-4 months - gained 15 pounds - and have been trying to get back to that level of fitness ever since. Hopefully I've learned my lesson - to be completely honest with myself and what I'm ready to run on 4/20.