Five Tips For Setting Attainable Running Goals

“I only have one goal in mind”….some of you may have recently thought to yourself. And that’s great! I’m so glad that you have conjured up something worth adding to your list of priorities. Unfortunately, a ‘One Goal’ mentality doesn’t seem to work out for the rest of us like it does the Chicago Blackhawks. No goal can be completed in and of itself – at least not well, I mean. Imagine saying your goal is to run a marathon just to show up in the parade of anxious athletes on the day of only to realize you have had no preparation whatsoever. But the goal was just to run the marathon, right? Nope! The joy of every goal we set for ourselves is that we get to accomplish so much more than what we originally set out to do and that is because we set such high aspirations for ourselves that these goals take time, unique experiences, and a boat load of new knowledge to complete. So let’s get to thinking. How are you going to get from A to B? And then B to Z? You may not know what C-Z stand for right now, but as you do – your perspectives and focuses will change. With that your plan of achievement should change as well. So let’s work on setting goals that will get you to your goal, shall we?

  1. Be long term, then be specific. The road to your end running goal can be a long distance (literally and figuratively). Set your end goal, but establish intermediate goals along the way that will make the task at hand seem more manageable. Rather than only saying ‘I will run a marathon in 6 months’ also say ‘I will run a half marathon in 3 months’. The “little” victories along the way will boost your momentum exponentially.
  2. Reassess and adjust goals at specific time markers along the way. My preference? Daily. I am not saying you need to clear the table and break out the reading glasses and calendar every night after dinner. All I am saying is when you are listening to the Morning Commute Spotify playlist on the El slowly making your way to The Loop as the Brown Line stops every 100 yards, reassess your goal. When you are waiting in an absurd noon-work-rush-hour line to order you Mexicali Bowl from Protein Bar, reassess your goal. It will occur more frequently than you expect that your intermediate goals will need some adjusting. Shifting your timeline and/or priorities is not failing on your intermediate goal. It is creating stronger, more sound, intermediate goals to achieve the end game you set out to seek.
  3. Set a goal for each important aspect of the larger goal. It is not enough to say “I will complete a marathon”. Think about the HOW you will complete a marathon. What will you consume and how much? When will you rest and how often? How will you track your progress? Be sure to add in here: What will make you enjoy this process? To illustrate – ‘After each long training run I complete I will add 5 songs to my day-of-marathon-playlist that inspired me.’ You might be thinking “That’s a goal?!”. It sure is. And I guarantee those are the types of goals that make the difference in the long run (see what I did there?).
  4. Pick the best training plan….for you! Do not simply google ‘Best 10K training plan’ and take that as bible. You are way too unique for that. Do your research. Ask others who have completed training. Try some out. Switch them out. Will you run in a group setting? Will you run solo? How many times a week will you run? How many times a week will you have a strength workout? Listen to your body. In reality, sometimes the best training plan is the one completely created by you. However, if you are just starting out – be open to trying different paths already forged. Feel it out and adjust your goals based on what makes you feel best. During my first marathon my goal was to increase my mile count by one each Saturday starting two months before the big day (a goal I promise you was based on one individual’s perspective I read in passing and dubbed it as gold). It proved to be too much! I got injured and I wasn’t able to give my mind enough time to crave the distance again. My second time around I increased my mileage count by two every other Saturday and my body – and mind! – responded much better. Prime example of how simple knowledge being added to your plan can cause drastically better results.
  5. Give yourself a reward outside of accomplishing the goal. Have a little fun with it! If you run your first half marathon in under two hours you get to go on the weekend camping trip at the end of the summer. If you drink your body weight in ounces of water everyday for a month then your husband is going to take you to that new, hard-to-get-into sushi place for dinner. If you finish your first marathon, you get a puppy (NOW WE’RE TALKING!). Goals are not chores. Goals stem from great aspirations and ideas you came up with to better yourself – treat them as such!

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