In our blog "5 Ways to Make Running a Habit" , we discussed the importance of setting goals as one of the ways to make running a habit. Now, let’s dive into how to set goals and, more importantly, how to make sure you meet your goals.
If you are serious about your running, set goals; they help you focus, keep you motivated, provide invaluable feedback and help you avoid procrastination.
But, it’s very important that your set the right goals for this feedback loop to be valuable.
First, you should set specific goals in order to build a pathway to meeting that goal. Let’s say you set a goal of becoming a better runner, how do you set goals for something this vague? How do you monitor your progress? It’s difficult, at best. But if your goal is to run a 2:15 half-marathon by the end of the year then that’s a goal you can sink your teeth into. Be specific!
Second, break your goals into segments. If your goal is to run that 2:15 half-marathon by the end of the year, then break that goal into monthly segments. I personally like breaking my training goals into 3-month segments, then break those into weekly segments. If I go further than 3 months out, I tend to procrastinate but anything shorter seems rushed so 3 months is perfect for me. Pick your own segments but break them down by week (and by day, if that helps) in order to set digestible goals.
5 Ways to Meet Your Goals
Now, once you’ve set specific goals and have broken them down let’s talk about ways to meet these goals.
Write Them Down
This one may seem obvious to most, but I’ve met plenty of people who have told me of their specific running goal but haven’t put pen to paper; generally, when I see them again something has gotten in the way of meeting their goal.
I’m not a neuroscientist (nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn last night 😊), so here is an article explaining the scientific reasons for writing down your goals.
All I know is when I write down my goals, it greatly enhances my chances of meeting them.
Sometimes, we set goals and keep them to ourselves because we don’t want someone else to be aware if we fail to meet these goals but this is a double-edged sword. Not telling someone will increase the chances you don’t meet your goal.
When things get tough and you don’t feel like going for that run, having someone who is emotionally invested in your success will help you climb out of bed, tie on your shoes and hit the pavement. It’s harder to let someone else down, especially if you’ve chosen the right accountability partner. Here’s a good article on choosing and working with an accountability partner.
One last thing, I have always found this to work better when I’ve partnered with someone in a two-way accountability relationship; and, if that person also happens to be a runner then it’s even better.
Keep a Journal
One of the things we do at FunRunBox is send out a Training Kit to all of our new subscribers, and in the kit they receive a running journal because we know writing it down is critical to meeting your goals. There is something about the physical act of writing down your progress, that amplifies the success you feel after you’ve finished your run (or cross-training or strength training).
You should make sure when you write down your progress to include a subjective element; don’t just write down “finished my 6 mile tempo run”, but rather write down your pace, how you felt during the run, what the weather was like, how you felt after the run. I know this helps me, especially on those days the run wasn’t smooth and easy.
When I write it down, the accomplishment of finishing my run even though I was sluggish when I got up, it was cold out, I forgot my coffee mug on the ride to the trail and I face-planted in the first half mile makes me know I can overcome and run!!
Join a Running Group
We all know that being part of a group can provide many benefits, from accountability to motivation to consistency; in addition, in most groups there are people of different skill levels, so you are always learning as part of the group.
I know having a group of people to whom I’ve committed to run with on Saturday mornings is extremely helpful for me. And, it also happens to be a great place to find a running partner and an accountability partner.
How do you find one? That’s simple, you can Google local running groups or search through various platforms to find them. I recommend looking for Facebook Groups Facebook Groups, utilize the club finder feature on Road Runner's Club of America or such social platforms as Meetup to find a group that fits you.
My company, FunRunBox offers an exclusive running community and monthly challenges to help runners stay motivated and inspired in addition to monthly goodies, gear and apparel.
Celebrate Success Along the Way
This is the one most people tend to forget, but it’s important. If you’ve achieved a milestone, say you finished your first 10 mile run in your half-marathon training you should celebrate it and reward yourself.
Take a cheat day from your nutritional plan, meet your accountability partner for coffee or buy yourself those new running shoes you’ve been wanting.
Then, buckle down and get back to it and look at your next goal knowing you can do it.
Rich Flaherty is a middle of the pack runner and triathlete, whose only real claim to fame is his daughter Bekah Brooks qualified for the Boston Marathon in her first marathon.