Goal setting is a powerful tool that can be used to motivate yourself in many aspects of your life. Setting a good running goal follows the same principles as setting any other goal in your life. Knowing how to set a good goal can help you know exactly what you want to achieve and what you will need to do to achieve it, but what exactly goes into setting a "good" goal?
What makes a good goal?
The best goals have a few things in common. Good goals are specific, have a personal meaning, and are realistic. An acronym that can be used to describe any good goal is SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This method of goal setting is used by all sorts of people including: coaches, educators, and business professionals. Specific A good goal should be specific in nature and easy to define. Goals that are precise will keep you motivated because you know exactly what you need to do to try to achieve it. A goal that is too vague or general is not compelling to most people because there is no visible end goal to achieve.
Goals such as " I want to run more" or "I want to be more fit" are too general. How much is "more" running? How fit is "fit"? How do you know if you're running enough or fit enough?
Instead try setting a more specific goal like " I want to run 50 miles a week" or "I want to run a 3 hour marathon." These goals are much more specific, which makes them much more compelling because you know definitively if you have achieved them or not.
Good goals have a measurable component. You should be able to measure the outcome and monitor your progress. An example of a measurable goal is having a time goal for a race. For example, if you want to PR in the half marathon, you can track your progress by tracking your workouts. You can use a pace calculator to determine what paces you will need to run to reach your goal and you will know if you have achieved your goal when you have crossed the finish line.
A good goal should but challenging but realistic, which means your goal should push you out of your comfort zone, but not be so extreme that it feels daunting or impossible. You can determine if a goal is attainable by comparing your previous running achievements. For example, if your 5k PR is 30 minutes, it wouldn't be very compelling to say " My goal is a 30 minute 5k" because you've already achieved it, but it also wouldn't be very smart to try to go from 30 minutes to 17 minutes because it would feel next to impossible.
To reach lofty running goals, it's best to take a progressive approach and make little improvements at a time. You most likely won't go from 30 minutes to 17 minutes all at once, but you could aim for a 28 minute 5k, then 27 minutes, and slowly get faster over time.
Good goals are also relevant to you. This means the goal has meaning or importance to you and not anyone else. Your goal should be for you and not because anyone else told you to do it. Ask yourself: Is this really what I want? Am I being pressured by anyone else? Am I doing this to meet someone else's expectations? Time-bound
Time-bound goals are goals that have a deadline. Having a deadline keeps you motivated and accountable. You'll be less likely to skip workouts because you know you have a goal to achieve. A good way to set up a time-bound goal is to pick a race. Having a race on the calendar provides an exact date that you plan on achieving your goal by.
If you don’t have a deadline, you may be more likely to push off a workout or skip them entirely.