Having a goal on the horizon can help provide structure to your running and motivate you to get out the door when the weather is terrible or you’ve got 100 other things to do. Goal setting is about sitting down and thinking about what you want to achieve with your running in the short and long term, and is well worth doing for runners of all levels.
Goals don’t always have to be races and races don’t always have to be goals: setting a goal is about identifying your motivations for running and giving some focus to your training.
Why goal setting is good for runners
Goals and targets are often used by elite athletes to enhance their performance. But you can use it, too. It works by focusing your attention on what you really want to achieve so that you can make your training more specific. Without goals, it’s easy to put off a run until another day, you may lose your mojo or even drift away from running altogether.
Many runners are attracted to the sport because it gives them an opportunity to challenge themselves and work towards new goals. If you remember how good it felt when you ran your first 5k or first half marathon, you might work towards running longer distances or work out how to run faster. These are great motivators to keep running consistently.
establishing your goal
It’s easy to get swept up in what other people are doing or what you think you should do instead of what you actually want to do. So if all your friends at your running club are signing up for a marathon, you might find yourself pressing ‘Enter’ without thinking if that what you really, really want.
In order for your goal to provide motivation, it has to truly speak to you. It should excite you and be something that gets you out of bed in the morning. So, if you’re more interested in running a faster parkrun time than training for your first marathonthat’s what you should make your goal.
Setting SMART goals
You may have set SMART goals in your work life, but the acronym is a great way of thinking about your running goals too. The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound and is a way of ensuring that your goal is clear and reachable.
So instead of your goal being ‘I want to get faster’, a SMART goal would look like: ‘I want to run a 10k in under 60 minutes at my local race in September’.
You’ve been specific in identifying the goal so you’ll know if you’ve achieved it and you’ve given yourself a deadline which will motivate you to get out there.