Learning how to set running goals worth sticking to is a critical part of a fitness regimen. Running is amazing, but having a focus really helps pull it all together.
Choose a challenging (but reasonable) goal
The first thing to do is settle on an objective. You want a goal that tests your limits, but is also attainable in a designated amount of time. Maybe you want to focus on increasing your distance from 5k to 10k over the course of six weeks. Perhaps you want to shave a minute or two off your 5k PR. You might even want to look at a more subjective goal, like improving your speed and form via cross training. All of these are practical intentions that can be achieved through some planning, dedication, and work.
Gather your resources
Now that you have identified your target, it’s time to gather the resources to make it happen. Will you need new shoes or equipment? Do you have access to a treadmill for speedwork or weights for strength training? Can you draft your own plan or will your goals require hiring a coach? What are those next steps?
Get to work!
Now it’s time to dig in and do the work. Fill in your calendar with set plans for workouts. Schedule your runs and your recoveries. It’s ok to be flexible in the face of changes, but don’t skip out on the labor needed to reach your goals.
Have honest self-assessments
Check in with yourself regularly to gauge your progress. Are things going as planned? Faster? Slower? Are there things you need to adjust to improve your advancement? Use these assessments to dial in things like hydration and nutrition. See how your body feels and if you need more rest, more active recovery, or more sleep. Touching base with yourself regularly is a great way to make the little course adjustments that will yield the best results.
Create coping mechanisms for the bad days
The path to victory is rarely a straight line, so be proactive and think about how you will deal with the tough times. We’ve all been at the point where we feel like failures, where nothing is going as planned, and we just want to quit. However, rather than being blindsided by those feelings, try changing your perspective in order to better cope. Take a day off training to clear your head. Run by feel rather than by data. Chat with your trainer to talk out the intrusive thoughts. You can even adjust your end game if it makes sense to do so.
Reap the rewards
When all is said and done, when you’ve achieved your goal, CELEBRATE! You’ve earned it! Take some time to honor what you have accomplished, and be proud of yourself for making it happen. Feel free to treat yourself to something fabulous (like a big race entry or new shoes), and then start looking for that next goal! You can do it!
How do you set and keep great running goals?
Need help? Check out this amazing worksheet from Honeystinger to get you started!
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Deborah Brooks says
Creating a realistic schedule that works for your schedule and goals is key!
Darlene Cardillo says
I agree. It has to be realistic and enjoyable.
My blog helps me a lot. I get support and it keeps me accountable.
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
Great tips! It’s so important to set a reasonable goal and come up with a plan.
Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…How Long Distance Runners Can Train For a Strong 5k
Great post! I’m currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, and he stresses the importance of habits. It’s great to have goals, but without recognizing the concrete steps it’ll take to get there, you won’t have success.
Writing down my schedule is key. These days I tend to float through my running schedule, knowing which day is speed, which day is long, etc. but without writing it down it’s easier to change plans without a really good reason.