How To Set Running Goals

SMART Goals

A goal must be SMART where

S = specific

M = measurable

A = achievable

R = relevant

T = time restrictive

Specific means that the goal has to be clearly defined. For example, running to get fit is too vague.

How will you know that a goal has been achieved unless it is capable of being measured?

Whilst it is good to aim high, a goal must be achievable. If it highly unlikely that you could ever achieve a particular goal then you’ll very quickly become disheartened, lose motivation and just give up. And, of course you don’t want to risk injury by pushing yourself too far too soon. Yes, a goal should challenge you but it has to be achievable if you put in the effort.

A goal has to be relevant to the direction you want your life to take and it has to be consistent with any goals set for other areas of your life. One goal should not be in conflict with another.

A goal must have a date by which time it should be completed. Having a deadline gives you impetus to take action.

Here’s an example of a SMART goal: “I will, on behalf of Cancer Research, complete a 5k race averaging 9 min/mile pace by (date)”

Put It In Writing

A goal must be written down. There lots of research to show that people who have written goals achieve far more than those who don’t.

A goal should be framed in positive terms. For example, saying “I will” rather than “I would like” is much more empowering.

Once you written down your goal statement, add your signature and date.

I highly recommend that you write your goal on a number of business card size pieces of card. Place one in your wallet, another on the fridge door and others anywhere else you think appropriate. Some people like to have one on the bathroom mirror so that when they get up in the morning they are reminded of their goal.

Create A Plan

Setting a goal is one thing, but you will only succeed if you figure out what has to be done to allow you achieve that goal.

There’s a saying which I think is very apt “failing to plan means you are planning to fail”.

You need to create a detailed plan of the steps you need to take to achieve the goal. What actions do you need to take and what must you achieve each week, each month?

It’s helpful to break up a goal into mini goals. Aim to achieve a mini-goal every 2 to 4 weeks.

There are many training plans for runners available online which can help you create your own written personalised plan.

And, of course, you must keep a diary to track your activity and progress. Using a sports watch, where you upload your running data to your computer, is one of the best ways to chart and analyse your progress.

Naturally, when one goal is achieved, it’s time to set another one.

Running Safety

Sudden cardiac arrest

Though the risk stands at about 1 in every 200,000 runners, the possibility of cardiac arrest still exists. Sudden cardiac arrest is an emergency and occurs when there is an unexpected loss of heart function. Shortness of breath and unconsciousness quickly follow and lead to death if not quickly treated. Men in the mid 30s to mid 40s age range are most prone to this although women are not completely free of risk. The most likely cause apart from a history of heart problems is taking part in running you are not really prepared or warmed up for.

Runner’s knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is the medical term for runner’s knee. It is caused by exercise activities that require a lot of stress on the knee. Repeated bending, walking, lunges, biking and jumping are the major factors leading to this condition. It manifests as a pain around and behind the knee cap.

Iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS)

In simple terms, the Iliotibial band is a thick tendon that starts from the hip, stretches from the outside thigh through the knee and down to the shin in both legs. As it approaches the knee it narrows and rubbing (friction) takes place between the tendon and the bone causing inflammation. You are likely to feel a stinging pain and notice swelling over the knee with the pain intensifying gradually especially when you try to put the affected foot on the ground.

ITBFS is very common amongst runners and seems to occur more frequently in women than men.

People with Arthritis

The misconception that running causes Arthritis has been around for ages. Arthritis (in this case that of the knee) is genetic. However, if you have already been diagnosed with arthritis, the continuous pounding impact on the knee as your feet hit the ground while running will worsen the condition. It is advisable to see your doctor first before taking up running.

Plantar fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a flat strip of tissue connecting your heel bones to your toes. It holds the arch of your foot in place. When strained, it becomes swollen and painful causing a term called Plantar Fasciitis. It is the most common cause of heel and under foot pain and gets worse when you try to stand or walk.
Though known to affect middle aged people more, it frequently occurs in young people who stand a lot (think soldiers, guards and athletes).

Reasons To Run A Half-Marathon

  • A half-marathon is a great race if you are a runner wants to run a longer race, but not quite ready to take on a full marathon distance. You’ve run some 10K’s and ready to take on a longer challenge and training for an endurance race.
  • 13.1 miles is the perfect distance if you want to accomplishment something major in your running, but don’t have the time to take on the training needed to run a full marathon. For many runners, they may not be able due to job or family responsibilities to take the time needed for a marathon. However, training for a half-marathon is completely doable.
  • Runners who tackle this distance will learn about what it takes to set goals with their running. You’ll need to have a training plan/schedule and be able to accomplish your goals weekly. These weekly goals will be instrumental in finishing your half-marathon. You will learn to handle the ups and downs that will come along the way. You will learn to persevere with your training to hit your goal.
  • Many runners take on a half-marathon race while they are in training for a full marathon. They will schedule a half to test their fitness level to see how they are in their marathon training. It’s a great tune up to do a few weeks before going for 26.2 miles.
  • Many runners run the 13.1 race to keep themselves in good shape throughout the year. They may not be truly “racing” any longer, but training for a half-marathon keeps them doing the miles need to feel good about themselves and in good health.

Running Program Slowly And Correctly

Some people will think that they can just strap on any pair of shoes and take off running. If you try to do this – you will probably end up getting injured or frustrated because you couldn’t just take off and run several miles. The truth is – nobody does. You have to slowly work into it.

The first thing that you want to do is to find a good pair of running shoes. You want to go to a store that specializes in running shoes. They will have people there that will fit you and find the perfect shoe for your foot type. There are basically 3 different foot types – and different shoes are made for each. The person at the running store will be able to find out the best shoe for you.

Once you get more involved with your running – you will want to invest in some clothes that are specially made for runners. The material in this running apparel is made to help you to stay warm and dry in all kinds of weather. But, getting started – the only thing that you really need is a good pair of shoes.

Then, you want to gradually work into a running program. You want to start walking and getting your body used to moving. After you have been walking for a period of time – then you can gradually work in running into your workout. Continue the walking/running routine – slowly doing less walking and more running. Eventually, you will be running the whole distance non-stop!

Running is one of the best exercises that you can do for overall health and for staying fit. And, the beauty is that you don’t have to join an expensive gym or buy a lot of equipment to get started. Just a good pair of shoes and you can head out the door. But, make sure that you are starting your running program slowly. This will help to get you started right and be able to stay out on the roads for many years to come!

Run In The Dark Safely

  • Wear reflective and bright colored clothing: Drivers often find it difficult to see runners during the dark, therefore, do not make it even harder for them to see you by wearing dark colored clothing. Make sure you wear brightly colored running apparel with reflective materials.
  • Carry lights: On the other hand, you will often find it difficult to see the trail, road or sidewalk when you run in the dark. So, carry some form of lights that you can easily carry to provide some illumination as you run.
  • Run against the traffic: The best way to run is against the traffic. You will find it easier to avoid oncoming cars if you can see them.
  • Concentrate and do not listen to music: Music can be great to keep you in the beat and running but listening to it in the dark is not a good idea. When you run in the dark, it is important to keep all your senses on alert, not just your sight.
  • Run in public areas: It is always better for you to run in public areas during early morning or in the evening. We all love the peaceful surroundings while running on trails, but doing this in the dark can expose you to the danger of being attacked. Keep your dark runs in public areas. This could be a bit boring but it will keep you safe.
  • Run with friends: Running in the dark with friends will significantly increase safety. You will have people who keep you motivated and extra set of eyes and ears to monitor the road.
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings: No matter how many safety measures you take to have a good run in the dark, you will always need to pay attention to whatever is going on around you. If you see something strange or not right, then follow your gut feeling and run away from the potential danger as fast as you can. It is always better to be cautious and prevent something bad from happening than to be seriously injured or attacked.

Benefits Of Morning Running

  • Enjoy the Peacefulness Of the Morning.

The early morning to me, is the most peaceful time of the day. The paths are moist with dew, it’s calm and quiet, a light blanket of fog is lifting off the water, the birds are singing a soft chorus in the background. Being out there to witness the sun rising above the horizon is truly worth getting up early for all by itself.

  • Increased Metabolism Throughout the Day.

Running in the morning will jumpstart your metabolism early in the day and keep it higher for hours afterward. This means that you’ll be burning a greater amount of calories, not only during your run, but throughout the day as well.

  • Enhanced Mood Throughout the Day.

According to a 2012 study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, running will boost your spirits and make you feel more positive. Runners actually have attested to the alleged “runner’s high,” which is the feeling people get after they’ve finished a good job or run. Endurance activity is suspected to lead to an increase in the brain chemicals that signal pleasure.

  • Enhanced Fat Burning.

Several proponents of working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach argue that it stimulates increased fat burning. This is due to the fact that your glycogen stores are low forcing your body to rely heavily on fat storage to fuel your workout, as opposed to burning carbohydrate for its energy.

  • Increased Alertness Throughout the Day.

Running can increase your mental clarity for four to 10 hours post-exercise. It will raise heart rate and increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, including the brain. A 2013 study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found aerobic exercise, like running, improves brain function and cognition in healthy aging adults. The study found that it led to an increase in brain blood flow to the hippocampus which is the primary brain region affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Increased Productivity Throughout the Day.

You will be more awake and ready to tackle your day by giving yourself that extra energy boost. I personally feel more energized throughout the day when I run in the morning, which leads to more creativity and productivity in my other daily activities.

  • A Great Time for Thinking and Planning Your Day.

The peacefulness described above can be the perfect setting for starting out your day. It’s the perfect time to sort out and clarify your thoughts and to plan for the activities and events you have later on. For many people, this peaceful time every morning becomes something they look forward to. Time for themselves to think, take care of their body and mind, and just relax before starting the day.

Ready to Join a Fun Run

If you’re joining a fun run soon but haven’t had any training for it and/or you haven’t exercised for over a year now, here are some tips you can follow to maximize the experience and be safe:

Get clearance from your doctor – The very first thing you’ll do before you even start buying gear or signing up for the event is to visit your doctor and have a physical examination, especially if you have a certain medical condition. Make sure he gives you the go-signal to participate if he determines you’re fit enough for it. Your health is still your priority even if you’re all too eager to join a running event.

Train properly – Even if you’re not joining to win and you only plan to join the 1-kilometer category, you should still prepare your body for it, especially if you haven’t done any running or jogging for a while. Just like in any fitness program, start slow so your body doesn’t get overwhelmed by the intense physical activities. You can start your training by walking for a kilometer or two on the first 2 or 3 days, then graduate to jogging once you feel that your stamina’s improving and you’re good to run. If you feel you get easily tired or you huff and puff after just a few seconds of running, don’t force the issue.

Use the right gear – Women should wear a sports bra to keep their breasts from bouncing as they run, which can be a risk factor. Since the feet are going to be the body parts that will literally absorb all the punishment from running, the right footwear should also be used. There are several types of running shoes designed for different types of feet and pronation.

Joining a fun run can be a very enjoyable and rewarding activity. Make the most from the experience by preparing properly and wearing the right gear.

Safety Tips Climbing Indoors

Non-Slip Footwear

It is best to wear non-slip footwear, whenever we are climbing. This would help to give us some added security.

It is not a good idea to step-up wearing only socks, because of its usual smooth bottoms. Although some socks may have rubber grips, they are still not suitable for these situations.

Additionally, to mount, without anything on our feet, could also be dangerous. As with socks or feet are also smooth and if our feet are known for sweating, it will add another layer of danger.

Suitable Ladders

There are many things that we could use to lift ourselves to the height in which we are looking for, however, all of them are not suitable for standing on.

For example, a plastic chair could be used for getting to a spider web, because, after all, it may only take about three seconds for us to remove it with a broom.

Well, while this may be the case, it would also only take about that length in time for the chair to lose its balance and, we end up on the floor.

Therefore, it is best to always use something that is suitable such as a stepladder etc. for standing on.

Additionally, we should make sure that it is not broken, it is not unbalanced and of course, it is not rotten or, has a protruding nail and loose screws and other things along this line.

Also, sometimes, although we may be elevated, we may still be a bit shy of reaching our gold, therefore, we may stand on our toes, move to the edged of the ladder and things along this line, to reach. However, it is best to remain in the centered and to keep off our toes.

Avoiding Pre Marathon Mistakes

Make sure that you are eating correctly the day before your marathon. You should be eating 75% carbs during your meals – but don’t totally pig out. Many runners think that since they are carbo-loading they can just eat and eat and eat. This can cause discomfort during your race. Just eat the amounts of food that you usually eat – but make sure that they are predominately carbs.

Also, don’t try any foods that you have not eaten before. You may be out of town at a race and want to try new things. The day before the race is not the time to do that. Eat foods that you know agree with you. Save the experimenting with local cuisine for the night after your race.

Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water the day before your marathon. I generally keep a water bottle with me and drink from it all during the day. Your urine should be clear or very pale. If it’s not – you need to be drinking more.

It’s alright to do a short and easy run to stay loose. Don’t so anything speedy or strenuous. Many runners like to do a mile or two to simply relax. Or, you can go for a nice easy walk.

Try to rest as much as you can. Many larger races have a race expo where you pick up your race packet. It’s tempting to spend a lot of time there walking around and looking at everything. Just don’t tire yourself out and be sure that you are wearing comfortable shoes.

The night before a marathon, make sure that you have everything that you need ready to go. I always have laid out what I plan on wearing with my racing bib already attached to it. If it’s a race that uses timing chips – make sure that it’s properly attached to your shoes. Also, have any energy gels or anything that you plan on carrying in the race ready to go. Having everything ready the night before will help you to rest better and not be scurrying around the morning of the race.

Also, go through the race packet. Look for any pre-race instructions. There should be information in there that will be useful to you. For instance, parking instructions, shuttle information, water stops, etc. are things that you should be aware of. Also, they may have designated areas where you can plan on meeting up with your family afterwards.

The morning of the race, try to plan on arriving about an hour before the race starts. This will give you plenty of time to stretch out and make those port-a-potty stops. If it’s a larger race, those lines can get pretty long. There are many large races where I make my first “stop” come out of the potty and then get right back in line. That way I know that I won’t be stuck in line when the gun goes off – or not be totally “relieved” when the race starts.

Runs in the Lake District

Crummock Water (Length: 3.5 miles. Time: 40 mins. Ascent: 750ft.)

There’s a bit more variety to this run than the Buttermere one. And it doesn’t go round the lake either (the lake is about 8 miles all the way around it). It’s another good circuit though, and one that gets closer to real fell running, without going too far up.

Starting in the Lanthwaite Wood car park, head through the gate towards the lake. At the first opportunity, take the path leading up to the left. This is the steepest climb of the run, and seems a cruel way to start, but it’s good to get it out of the way. At the top of this hill there’s a gate that takes you on a grassier track down towards a farm. Up and over the handy steps in the wall to the left of the farm, you come onto the road. A short way along, you’ll be able to go across to the bracken-covered foot of Grasmoor. It’s not an obvious path from this point, but you should be able to see a narrow gap in the bracken up to your right. Make your way to this and it becomes clearer.

Now comes the fun part. This track, narrow, grassy and littered with rocks takes a lot of concentration, but is never boring. The constant shifts of stride length and pace as you go up and down along the terrace feels, at least to me, like a more natural way of running. Jumping over rocks and streams, sidestepping through taller bracken, the path culminates in an all out sprint down to a small car park by the road.

Going alongside the road a little way, you cross over to a gate on the other side, which takes you on down to the lake shore. Watch out here for slippery wooden bridges. The path ascends quite painfully from the beach, but it’s not as steep as the first climb. Opening a gate part way up gives a small reprieve. Across the edge of a field, you come back into Lanthwaite woods, ducking and weaving your way through branches that crowd the path. There’s also a very nice downhill section with the added bonus of gorse bushes, leading to a small stream, which you cross before going back into the trees.

The last section of the run back through the wider forest paths seems to have a lot more uphill than you would notice if you were walking through it. Including a particularly long incline, after which it’s a downhill sprint back to the car park.

Loweswater (Length: 2.9 miles. Time: 40 mins. Ascent: 650ft.)

Happy to go a bit higher? This is a short run still, but it does involve a long uphill section. After which, it’s downhill all the way back to the car. Being a circuit again, this run can be done more than one way round. The advantage of going anti-clockwise is the fact that there’s a long downhill section, but the last part does go over a pretty horrible rocky farm track. Going the other way also has a nice downhill section, but after that it’s further back to the car.

From Maggie’s bridge, there’s a hard, wide track leading towards the lake. If the gates are open, this is quite an easy section. If they’re not, then you either have to open them, or pick your way carefully across the cattle grids. A grassy shortcut presents itself close to the farm, crossing over a ditch and a narrow stream before meeting back up with the larger track into the woods. There are gentle ups and downs on this path, eventually crossing a wider stream at the lowest point. Either splash on through or use the bridge.

Now it’s the long slog uphill. It starts off gently at first, but once you take the next left, heading away from the lake, it gets a bit steeper. The path then doubles back, going towards the farm, but continues upwards. A short, muddy, but flatter stretch past a waterfall leads to a narrow track to the right. This is the steepest part of the run. At the end of this is a gate, where the path leaves the forest and goes along the top of it. And soon, you reach the highest part of the run.

It’s so tempting to go flat out down the hill, but the grass is slippery and the path is uneven. Even so, it’s not long before you reach a bridge. Crossing over, the path disappears into a bog, but it’s easy to pick up again. It’s the run’s way of getting back at you for using that bridge back in the woods. As you get closer to the farm again, big stones try to trip you up. Still going downhill, through the farm, it takes a lot of concentration to save your ankles. Then you come to the final muddy, rocky track through a field back to the car park.