To some of us, resolutions may be all hype. Whether you don’t make resolutions because you set goals based on what’s happening in your running season; because you choose to make changes the moment it’s necessary or because resolutions never work for you, if you’re not making some running resolutions, then you could be making a major mistake.
“It’s always beneficial for an athlete to have a goal so they know what they are working toward,” says Kim Peek, a run coach. “The problem with resolutions is that more often than not, by the time February rolls around, they have lost momentum and are forgotten about.”
Maybe you’re hoping to incorporate more speed work into your routine, or perhaps this is the year you finally tackle a marathon. We connected with experts to learn how to set smart goals that stick and lead to lifestyle changes in 2020 and beyond.
MAKE IT SMART
Achievable goals are ones that you can honestly see completing if you put your mind to it. To make a goal achievable, make it “SMART,” suggests Dan Chojnacki, a certified trainer. SMART stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.
“Running in the Olympics may not be an achievable goal, but completing your first marathon or reducing your time certainly could be,” says Chojnacki. To make one of these goals truly SMART, he adds, it needs to be very specific.
Let’s take setting your running goals a step further. Say you want to go from a 10-minute mile to a 9:45-mile in the next three months. “With this goal, you have a specific target pace, that is attainable in a certain amount of time,” adds Sarah Booth, an integrative holistic health coach. Work back from the three-month mark and sprinkle intervals or hill repeats into your training, with adequate rest days and maybe some strength training. Then as time progresses check-in to make sure your pace is quickening.
MAKE IT MICRO
It’s admirable to make your aspiration something big like signing up for a race or simply running more, but dare to think smaller. Micro goals are having a moment and for good reason. Maybe this is the year you include more fartlek training in your regular routine: Run at a 7 out of 10 effort for 5 minutes, then crank it back to a jog for 1 minute. Turn it up again for 4 minutes, then bring it back down for a recovery. Continue with the pattern until you’re at zero.
KEEP IT PERSONAL
You’re more likely to be successful chasing something that’s really important to you. The best way to achieve these goals is to keep them exclusive to you, an individual. Don’t set goals based on the perception of what you feel other runners view as a worthy goal, says Cortney Logan, a RRCA-certified running coach.
Take it a step further by really outlining why the goal has meaning for you. “When you do the inner work, and reflect on what it personally means to identify as a runner or goal achiever, then you have something to go back to when you stumble,” says Peek.
Get a training buddy to help motivate you, suggests Rob Schwab, DPT, of Oxford Physical Therapy in Mason, Ohio. Science agrees. Individuals who exercise with friends they thought were in better shape boosted their intensity and workout time by an impressive 200%, according to an October 2012 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. This is also true for virtual running partners, so share your runs on an app like MapMyRun or post it to your social media.
Enjoy the run more by integrating other fun things into your endorphin boost. Make your runs more enjoyable by tackling multiple goals while upping your heart rate. A Sunday morning jog to brunch sounds like a great start. Joining a run crew and making new running friends is also a great use of time. And, there are always podcasts or audiobooks to listen to.