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Goals – Runner's Toolkit


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A starting point for any training plan is being really clear about what you want to accomplish.

The only way to growth and progress is to push beyond your current abilities, into an unchartted territory. Goals provide coordinates of our destination so we can set off in the right direction.

You may already have a very clear goal in mind. Or you may not. Either way, you should take some time to think about (and preferably write down) potential goals. Once you have a candidate list, start eliminating the ones that are not inspiring. You need your goal to be motivating. Next, eliminate any goals that are completely unrealistic. Similarly, eliminate those that you could likely achieve right now. Assuming you are still left with at least one, you are ready to proceed and refine this goal. Otherwise, keep brainstorming!

There are many different kinds of goals you can consider:

  • Finish a race
  • Beat a specific time in a race
  • Achieve a certain place in a race
  • Complete a specific distance
  • Join a group of other runners
  • Running without pain
  • Finishing with a smile
  • Feel confident getting on the starting line
  • Overcoming discomfort
  • Support another runner

Ultimately, you should narrow it down to one goal that can be tested with one specific event. To make it more likely to walk away satisfied, we suggest creating A/B/C variants of this goal.

How to set A/B/C goal variations:

  • A: Choose your ideal outcome. It can be ambitious as long as you believe it is possible.
  • B: Choose a fallback goal that is a bit easier to achieve but still motivating.
  • C: Choose a minimum goal that will allow you to walk away with your head held high.

Next, you need to determine how you are going to test and measure your goal. Most of us will be using a race as a measuring stick, but you can also choose a training run, physical test, or another event. Be as specific as possible about the date and location of this test.

Armed with your A/B/C goals and measurements, you are ready to plan your training and start moving in the right direction. Just remember that it is OK to revise and refine your goals as you go along. Don’t hold on to goals that are too easy or too unrealistic. Just let them go and start over.

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