New Year New Running Goals
Reading time: 4 minute(s) - 700 words
You may have come across the acronym SMART for setting goals before. It’s a useful way to sort out what you want to achieve from your running this year.
I was running fast by my standards. the Sun was out and even though the world hadn’t woken up yet, it was already warm.
I sensed that this run was going well. I felt strong and found I could push a bit more and still maintain the good pace.
I’d come out without a real plan - apart from to run about 6 miles or so.
The running app on my phone sang out that another mile went by faster than I usually run.
So I gritted my teeth, wiped sweat off my brow and kept pushing.
I powered my way up the last incline before the straight to home. I listened out for the last mile notification from the app.
In fact, I strained every sinew in my body to make sure I heard it.
And there it was. A personal best for this route. The sun got warmer as the world woke up but I was already happy. A personal best today - it doesn’t get any better.
There’s several things wrong with that story.
Not the facts, that run did happen. It was in the summer of 2018.
Here’s what’s wrong.
First, I didn’t know I had personal best time for the route in me. How did I not know?
And when I say I didn’t know, I mean I didn’t have a clue.
Next, I’d being running 4-5 times a week for several years. How come progress was so slow?
There were weeks and months where I made no improvement at all - or so it seemed.
It was a case of lace up and head out the door.
There was something big missing. There was no plan to my running.
I’d run and run. Mile after mile. But without any real target or goal. I had the airy concept that I wanted to be faster and that was it.
Time to get SMART.
I used SMART goals at work a lot. I’m not a fan of business concepts and all that bullshit. Apart from SMART. It’s useful and practical.
It’s easy to make some running goals with it, too.
S is for specific - I want to be able to run 5K in 30 minutes. (insert whatever time and distance you’re aiming for).
M is for measurable - You have to be able to track your progress towards achieving the goal. Use an app, your watch or a spreadsheet. But track it.
A is for achievable - there’s no point setting a goal that you can’t ever reach. Be realistic.
R is for results-based - you win when you hit the goal time/distance. It’s the end result that matters.
T is for time sensitive - you have to have enough time to reach the goal. But not so much time that it might as well not matter.
The 5K example is a real goal I set last year. I also blew it away last year. As planned.
Ah, now we are getting there. No more running personal bests out of nowhere for me.
I now have some idea that I can do a good time on a given day. I also know what my goals are across all the main distances.
So now, when I’m planning my runs, I always check to see where I am with my primary goals.
One for the end of last year was to push my half marathon time down to sub 2:15. I did it in December, 2019. More or less as planned.
I have goals (lots of ‘em) for this year too. So every run I do is not an aimless excursion wearing trainers.
I have short term goals. And I have mid and long term goals. I use the results of my runs to determine how I’m doing. Then, I adjust my training plan to suit.
There’s no rocket science here - it’s as simple as can be.
Have a plan, set some goals. You’ll be amazed how your running benefits from them.