It’s no secret that I am a very goal oriented person. I love setting goals of all kinds, whether they’re personal, financial, spiritual, marital or you guessed it – running goals.
New Years is without a doubt one of my favorite times of year. I love sitting down with a pen and paper do decide what I want to focus on throughout the upcoming year. I set goals galore and then set even more by breaking them down into micro goals throughout the year.
One of the best parts about setting running goals is that they can be created throughout the year. We don’t have to wait until New Years to get a fresh start or shoot for the stars. As a training plan ends, we finish a race, or a new season approaches, we find ourselves with a fresh slate and brand new opportunities.
Whether you’re training for a race or just running to maintain fitness, setting running goals is an excellent task to get in the habit of completing.
Why set running goals?
Setting running goals is beneficial in so many different ways.
Having a concrete goal keeps you motivated on those off days where you feel like all the work might not be worth it anymore. It gives your running a purpose, and helps propel you to continue when you forgot why you started.
Taking the time to put your goals into writing may help you stay accountable. Being able to visually see your goals gives you that added push and keeps you from brushing them off in your mind.
Writing down your goals gives you a visual reminder of what you’re working towards, and the reason you started working so hard in the first place.
How to set the right running goals
Knowing that you want to set running goals is one thing, but being able to set the right running goals is an entirely different ball game.
Setting unrealistic goals is a recipe for failure. Creating a goal that you won’t be able to achieve in the given time frame will only leave you feeling discouraged and unmotivated to try again.
Setting goals that are too easy may leave you feeling accomplished, but you’ll never learn and grow from the experience of working to achieve them.
Setting goals that are realistic yet challenging is awesome – but if you don’t implement a strategy to achieve them, you’ll just find yourself feeling discouraged all over again.
Learning how to set ambitious running goals takes time, practice, and continuous self evaluation.
Adjusting your goals along the way doesn’t mean that you set the wrong goals. Instead, it means that you’ve been diligently tracking your progress. By evaluating your progress, tracking your accomplishments and discovering more about yourself, you’re adjusting the goals to better suit your needs.
My favorite method of goal setting is the ladder method. In this method, you come up with one big goal, and then back track to set mini goals you’ll want to accomplish along the way.
Achieve Your Running Goals in 10 Steps
Using the ladder method, you’ll always want to start out by setting your end, main goal. Once this goal has been set, you’ll think through all of the milestones you’ll need to accomplish along the way and break them down into individual goals.
For example, your end goal might be to run a marathon.
This is a great start! Even if you’ve never run a mile without stopping, knowing that you want to run a marathon at some point in your life is a perfect place to begin.
Since this is the final goal, we’ll set it as number 10.
- Run a marathon
Next, we’ll set 9 goals to accomplish along the way as we progress towards our 10th, final goal.
For example, if you’ve never run a mile without stopping, that’d be a great place to begin.
Here’s how your running goals might break down:
- Run a mile without stopping
- Complete a 5k
- Run a 5k in [your time goal here]
- Complete a 10k
- Run a 10 mile training run
- Complete a half marathon
- Improve your half marathon time or efficiency
- Sign up for a marathon
- Run a 20 mile training run
All of these mini goals will bring us to our ultimate goal:
- Run a marathon
This method can be used for both long term and short term goal setting. If your goal is to run a half marathon in 12 weeks, break that down into micro steps along the way. You can set goals to sign up for the race, run 3 times a week, run your first double digit long run, find the right running fuel, etc.
Some running goal ideas
If you’re wanting to set some running goals but don’t know where to begin, here are a few ideas! Use these exact ideas, or use them to come up with ideas for your own personalized running goals.
Run a mile without stopping.
Run a 5k in 30 minutes.
Run a themed race.
Run without music.
Run 5 miles without stopping.
Run your first 10k.
Run a 10k in 60 minutes.
Run a trail race.
Run through the snow.
Run 1 mile for 30 days in a row.
Run 10 miles.
Run your first half marathon.
Run 20 miles.
Run your first marathon.
Run negative splits.
Run 100 miles in a month.
Run a mile PR.
Run 10% farther each week.
The running possibilities are endless with goal setting. No matter how much you’ve accomplished, there is always room for improvement. Having a purpose and challenging yourself will lead to infinite growth and self discovery along the way.