At Christmas I set myself what I thought would be an ambitious target of running 1000 miles in 2014*. In 2013 I ran 900 miles without really thinking about it, so i figured an extra 100 miles would be achievable. It seems to be a good week for me, as I crossed that threshold in last nights easy run!
But it made me think about how important it is to set yourself goals. For me personally, having a goal keeps me motivated. And a goal could be anything running related and will entirely depend on where you are in your running “career”.
For some, completing your first 5k parkrun without walking may be your goal. For others, it may be to finish their first half marathon, by hook or by crook. They are all entirely personal, and with that goal you do a training plan which trains you for the objective at hand and keeps you focussed on it.
But once you’ve achieved that goal, what do you do next? Many people, myself included in the past, have not set a new goal and stopped running. For some, they may not WANT to run again. For me, it was just because I didn’t have anything to aim for. I’d go out for a few runs, not really try, end up walking a bit, and the frequency dropped off, and off and off until I was doing no running at all.
Generally speaking, beginners will want to do one of two things.
- Go further – If they’ve run a 5k, they may want to run a 10k next, then a Half, then maybe even a full marathon.
- Go faster – They may want to stick at that distance but get faster at it. For many, their weekly parkrun is all they want to get faster at!
I still follow this regime. I’ve worked my way up through the distances, and now I focus a specific training plan on a specific distance to make me faster at that distance. Beginners will find though, that by training for longer distances their shorter runs will naturally become faster just by doing more running.
The key word in that above paragraph is Specific. And it forms part of a goal setting methodology I found out about in my MBA studies known as SMART objectives. These are goals which are
By having a specific goal (For example, a 25minute 5k) you know that this can be measured (By your official race times, or your stopwatch over a course). Being Achievable and Realistic is important, as setting a goal which is too far in advance or too difficult from where you are/your current running condition may demotivate you, so set smaller goals and then renew those goals again once completed. By time binding it (A specific race) then it instills a sense of urgency and purpose to keep you motivated.
To help with this, you can back it up by promising yourself a reward or treat when you acheive your goal.
Here’s an example of my running goals that I posted over on Runners World back in January. (OK it’s two posts because the RW forum software is a bit shit)
I used SMART objectives to come up with these. You can see they were specific and measurable, and they were achievable and realistic based upon my condition at the beginning of the year, and I had given myself the target of doing so by the end of 2014.
Thankfully, I smashed them all one by one by the end of May – except the weight loss, which was yesterday! And every goal I smashed, felt amazing. After each PB goal I set a new, revised goal and I am still motivated to acheive them all – and I firmly believe I can by the end of the year. Just as soon as this hot weather lets up a bit!
Set yourselves some SMART goals and feel great every time you do them. Don’t forget for every running goal you acheive you will also be healthier and fitter from it – a nice side effect!
* I realised early on that I was going to make the 1000mi quite easily, so i revised it to 1252mi – 2014km