Setting personal goals in running is a great way to help direct you towards being the best runner you can be. Without goals we can struggle with training motivation and we are left with no end target. These goals can look very different from person to person. I am going to talk about some different goals you might want to set. No matter your age or level of ability there are goals out there for you to set and to successfully fulfill.
Lets start off and say that I usually have multiple types of goals. I have training goals and race day goals. My training goals include certain strength training goals, a body weight goal, and weekly mileage and training goals. I also make it a priority to get to the start line injury free and healthy. This means I have to prioritize taking care of myself in recovery, diet, and lifestyle.
I like to have strength training goals because as a runner it can be easy for me to get lazy in the weight room. My attitude could be, “I’m a runner not a body builder or cross fit athlete”. Therefore, I like to push myself a little weather it is the bench press or leg squats. I want to do quality repetitions and see my weight, sets, or repetition counts increase to my desire goals. For example, I might only be able to do at 145lbs a total of 2X10 reps on the bench press to begin. My goal by the end of the training cycle is to 160lbs a total of 3X10 reps. It’s not a huge increase but it is an attainable increase of sets, reps, and weight. For a weight goal everyone will be different but I am personally trying to lose about 10 pounds before race day or maintaining my weight if it is where I want it.
I usually have an overall mileage goal for my marathon training cycle. For example, I might want to average 80 miles for the duration of 16 weeks. I then might set certain hard workout goals in that training cycle. For example, I am looking to do 15 interval workouts, 15 tempo runs, and 12 long runs (runs at least 18 miles long). Some beginning runners might try to have goals to run a certain amount of days a week. One last thought before I move on to race goals. If you are the over achiever type, then maybe some of your goals need to be centered around a certain amount of “days off” or “running with certain slower runners on easy days”. Goals can help us from getting in a rut or being lazy. Moreover, they can also protect us from doing too much that can lead to injury or burn out.
My race goals are important. They give me something to shoot for on race day. I usually have a time goal but I also have an idea of what place or finish I am looking for overall and in my age group. If the conditions are bad and a fast running time is not feasible then I have the overall finishing goal and age group goals to fall back on. Other goals a person might consider include a goal number of races to finish or a certain distance they’d like to finish. For example, my goal might be to do 10 marathons in a year or to finish my first 100 mile ultra. I have also seen many people set goals such as a “not walking” goal or “staying mentally positive throughout the whole race”.
Other race day goals I have set included a “negative split” goal. This is where I run the second half of the race faster than the first half or to run with a certain pace group for “x” amount of miles. No matter what goals you end up choosing, stay committed! Stay positive! Do not give up and even if you do not hit all of your goals, it’s okay! I rarely hit all of my goals. I usually have enough goals and they are realistic enough that I am bound to at least hit one of them on race day. For me, to hit my training goals is more important anyway. It is the weekly grind and the work I put in behind the scenes that matters most to me. I am not racing to be famous, to simply beat others, or to get prizes and records…..I run because I can and I love it!
When you hit your weekly goals and your training goals that is the biggest win of all. You did it without the praise of others, without the medals and belt buckles and t-shirts. Your name didn’t go into a newspaper article and other people weren’t around to praise you. You became stronger, better in character, and your quality of life is the real win. It was the week after week that molded you into a resilient fighter. A man or woman of stamina and perseverance. Your training shows you are an Overcomer. Race day doesn’t tell the whole story sometimes. Deep down only you know the commitment, the hard work, and the sacrifices you made to hit your goals and to train harder than you ever imagined you could have.
So, set those goals! Use them to direct you, push you, and shape you into the type of runner and person you were meant to be! I’m taking the time right now during this social distancing to set new goals and to become a better person and runner in the long run.