Set Yourself a Goal

Setting a Goal is the first step to becoming a better runner, even the first step to becoming a better person.

It’s worked for me.

Each morning I leap from beneath my duvet as my 5am alarm shocks me into action. Teeth cleaned, water splashed on my face, I don my colour coordinated running outfit which I laid out neatly the night before. I lace up, slip on my Garmin (fully charged of course), swig a quick glass of water to hydrate and I’m out the door for a swift 15 miler.

That’s the moment my real alarm goes (let’s pretend it’s set for 7am) and I realise I’ve been dreaming again. Dreaming about becoming the perfect version of myself. Obviously I don’t get up, instead I switch off the alarm, get back under my duvet and pray for the dream to continue.

When I finally reawake (let’s pretend it’s 8am) I hobble to the bathroom, which is about 3 feet from my bed, but still it hurts, aching from the last run I did a few days ago. I make a half arsed attempt at salvaging my decaying teeth and stink out my windowless shower room (it’s too small to be a bathroom, I shouldn’t have lied, I’m sorry) with my pre run dump.

I then rummage around my pile of clothes, sprawled across what I like to call my floordrobe, often pulling a pair of shorts out the wash basket. I make sure my emergency tenner is in my backpack with some soon to be warm water (once and only once I put my water bottle in the freezer the night before, it was amazeballs) and I head out the front door.

For today is long run day. Do I feel I like a long run? Hell no.

But I have set myself a goal. To complete my first marathon in Bournemouth this October. I’ve been telling people about this goal and I’ll be damned if I’m going to fail and let myself down.

I spend the first mile convincing myself I’m injured and that there is no way on earth I can possibly go 15 miles this morning.

But suddenly something magical happens. I relax. I start to enjoy the run. I take in my surroundings. I people watch from behind the anonymity of my cool Nike sunglasses. Suddenly I imagine myself crossing the finish line at Bournemouth punching the air in delight.

As the miles tick by the odd concerning pains pops up. Firstly it might be my knee, then my hip, normally my back. But I’m now used to these and they often just pass. I get a new lease of life as I approach the final mile and clock my fastest split of the day. I finish the run exhausted sweaty and my legs are anything but happy with their over ambitious owner .

But I got it done. Another week of training, another long run. All possible because I set myself a goal. Without that goal there is no way I’d be stupid enough to run that far for pleasure. I’d have probably given up after 10 minutes, or not even left the house in the first place. Trust me I did both on numerous occasions over the past few years when my running was, how can I put it, shit.

So if like me you want to improve and want the motivation to push yourself, then SET YOURSELF A GOAL. If doesn’t have to be a marathon. You don’t have to run 15+ miles. Your goal simply might be to achieve your first 5k without stopping.

Pick the type of run you enjoy. If you like running shorter distances at a quicker pace, select a goal for a 5k or 10k. If you like plodding along at a more comfortable speed but for hours on end, go for a half marathon, marathon or perhaps even an ultra.

Ideally pick a goal you’ve never achieved before, something which perhaps scares you. Obviously be realistic in terms of your current ability. Entering a 100 mile race next Sunday if you’ve only ever done 1 lap around the block isn’t a wise move.

The more time you can give yourself the less pressure there will be. It will give you the opportunity to make mistakes, perhaps even recover from setbacks like injury or illness. 3-6 months is a good time frame in my opinion.

Tell people about your goal. I’d love it for some of you to share it on the RunnuR facebook page. This gives you even more incentive, as you don’t want to explain to a friend when they next ask about your progress how you quit halfway through your training.

Setting Your Goal

  • Pick a goal which involves the running you enjoy most

  • Pick a goal you’ve never achieved before

  • Select a target or race which scares you a little

  • Take into account your current fitness and be realistic

  • Give yourself plenty of time to reach your goal (3-6 months)

  • Tell people about your goal

Earlier this year I achieved a goal I set out last winter. To run a sub 2 hour half marathon. At the time my pace was around the 2.30 mark, so it was ambitious. But the sense of pride and joy I got when I crossed the line at Paddock Wood, with my fellow Hastings Runners cheering me on was a moment I’ll never forget. The fact I’d worked so hard for it made it even more sweeter.

Hopefully you can achieve your own running goals and feel as proud as I did that day. I honestly feel it’s made me a better person and I often relate others aspects of my life to how I approach my running.

Don’t just take my word for it though. That’s why I’ve put some quotes in this blog from experienced coaches and athletes. They in a far better position that me to offer advice, it’s a shame they do it in such a boring way.

Set A Goal. Train Smart. Achieve Your Dreams.

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