» Set Goals

Set Goals

A winner is someone who sets their goals, commits themselves to those goals and then pursues their goals with all the ability that is given to them. That requires someone who believes in themselves, who will make self sacrifices, work hard, and maintain the determination to perform at the best of their ability.
– C. Leeman Bennett

Why do you want to run? Most people who want to learn how to run have a reason or goal for running:

  • Is your goal to lose weight? Combined with a healthy diet, running is a great way to lose weight and reduce the risk of weight-induced diseases.
  • Is your goal to get in shape? Running is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise. It is also great as part of a cross-training program.
  • Is your goal to increase your mental capacity? Regular exercise, like running can boost your memory, provide clearer thinking, and reduce the effects of depression.
  • Is your goal to run a race? Many people would like to run a race, perhaps because a friend asked them to. Maybe you even aspire to run a marathon some day.

These are all great goals! But the best one is your own.

If you can clearly state your goal for running, you are far more likely to succeed. Without a goal, you have nothing to help you to stick with it. When an injury, an illness, or a busy schedule comes your way, running may fall by the way side. A goal will keep you pushing. It will fuel your running and keep you moving forward.

One of my first running goals was to run in a local 5K race. A couple of weeks before the event, I suffered from shin splints because of overly aggressive hill runs. I needed to rest to heal, but my mind kept pushing me to prepare for the race. If I had not set this goal, and if I had not already paid the race registration fee, I might have stopped running altogether. Instead, I reduced my training and added recovery techniques. I kept with it and finished the race in the top third.

Goals push us forward in the right direction, but not everyone is good at setting goals. Here are five steps to help you to set and achieve your running goal:

1. Put it in writing.

A goal that you simply think about is a dream, not a goal. Put your goal in writing and place it in a place where you will see it. Consider framing it and putting it on your desk or wall. Put it on a small card that you keep in your wallet. Add it to your bucket list. Writing your goal will make it official.

2. Check if it is reasonable.

If you are new to running and your goal is to run a marathon in the next three months, your goal is simply too big. Be realistic. You can adjust both the date and the distance to make the goal more reasonable. As an older runner, my goal was to run a 5K the first year, a 10K the second, a half marathon the third, and a marathon the fourth year.

3. Review it with your family and friends.

Talk about your goal to your family and close friends. When you express your goal to others, you will feel committed and accountable. What if you give up? What will they think? Your friends and family may even want to run with you, which will keep you far more accountable.

4. Divide your goal into small steps.

Simply writing and sharing your goal will not get it done. You need to plan out the steps that will get you there. You can use this running guide to help plan out the steps that you need to take, but you will need to create your own plan and set some deadlines for yourself.

5. Force execution.

By now, you have done the right things to set and move toward achieving your goal, but this last step will catapult you to success. Force yourself to meet your goal by registering for a race. Make sure that it is a race with an entrance fee. If you are new to running, make it a 5K run. Go one step farther and get a friend to register with you. This will force you to stick with it despite illness, injuries, bad weather, and a busy schedule.

With your goals set, let’s move on to find out what gear you need for running.