How To Set Running 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.