Goal setting is an important part of running. Whether it’s targeting a particular race, aiming to run a personal best, or taking part in your first ever race, it’s important to identify what you’d like to achieve.
It’s also important to make sure your goals are realistic and achievable. I mean, I’d love to run a sub 34-minute 10km, but it’s not going to happen. Think about your current level of fitness and then set goals around that.
Try to have short and long-term goals. Maybe, like me, you’d like to run a sub-1.30 half marathon eventually, but based on your current fitness you need to focus on breaking 1.34 first. If you set smaller goals that are achievable you’ll feel so much better when you start to tick them off, especially knowing you’re getting closer to achieving your long term ambitions.
Break your goals down into monthly blocks and be prepared to change things accordingly. Where do you need to be at the end of each month of training? What has gone well in training? What could you improve?
It helps to target a particular race and taper for it. For example, I’m targeting a half marathon in May. All my training will be done with this race in mind. I want to be on the start line in the best possible shape. Any races I do before this will help my training, but they are not my main goal.
I think it helps to consider the barriers to achieving your goal. What is going to stop you or make it difficult? It could be lack of time or motivation, or that you struggle juggling work and training. When you’ve identified the barriers, think about possible solutions. If fitting training in is a problem, could you run at lunchtime at work? If you are determined to achieve your goal there is usually a way to overcome the barriers.
Be prepared to train hard, keep motivated and be consistent with your training. Results don’t just happen, they take a lot of hard work and effort. To achieve a goal you need to prioritise training and make sacrifices.
Rewarding yourself and recognising the small achievements on the way to achieving your main goal will help keep you motivated and in the right mindset. Most of all, have fun and enjoy running.
Having written all of the above, I’m also a believer in dreaming big, aiming high and being ambitious. There are no limits to what you can achieve. Having been overweight as a child and unable to run to the end of the road without stopping, I am often amazed at what I’ve achieved in the sport. For a long time, I just wanted to win a medal, and when I did I couldn’t quite believe it. But then I won some more, including Yorkshire Veterans Championship medals at five miles, 10k and 10 miles, and recently a fourth place (with Barnsley AC ladies) at the British Masters road relay championships. A few years ago I would never have believed this was possible, but hard work and commitment, does pay off.
Wishing you all the very best in achieving your 2018 goals.