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May 16, 2014

Setting a Goal is a Good Idea

Written by Dena Evans

Finish-Line-Full-HD-Image-2Many of our runcoach athletes enjoy running for general fitness, and ongoing general fitness is absolutely an important result of a regular running program.  However, it should not be underestimated how helpful a specific goal or goal race can be to a new runner, an enthusiastic experienced runner, and one for whom running has become stale.


Setting a goal….keeps you organized

Marking a goal race date on the calendar can often have the secondary effect of helping us order the rest of our lives.  Not sure when best to vacation and have flexibility to choose?  Now you are probably inclined to wait until just after the big race.  Not sure where you want to run on the weekend?  Now you are only selecting routes that are conducive to the long run or other workout needed, and have a much less overwhelming series of choices.  Training with a goal might motivate a runner to call that running buddy who has been a great workout partner in the past but seldom connected with in the current moment, and give you  a built in reason for the call.   A goal race can also help you choose the intermediary efforts along the way – instead of the half marathon that happens to be 2 weeks out from a goal marathon, you’ll choose the one 5 or 6 weeks out and you’ll know why (and won’t doubt yourself).


Setting a goal….keeps you motivated

Even the most faithful of trainees is at least tempted now and again to diverge from their training schedule.  When you have a date on the schedule, sometimes that little extra motivation to perform well on that specific task can help dissuade you from the excuse making.  Conversely, when you have a goal that carries a bit of weight, finishing and health become of primary importance.  You’ll be more likely to stay hydrated, stretch regularly, and ice any aches and pains.  You might then be less likely to skip a needed day off, slog through a workout at suboptimal pace, run when sick, etc.  When you know you are shooting for your best, you become more guarded about optimizing every workout.


Setting a goal….keeps running fresh

A regular routine can be comforting to new and seasoned runners, and if you have completed several races, it is easy to have the “been there, done that” feeling.  Fortunately, we live in an amazing era of diverse racing opportunities.  Setting a goal that forces you to “drive” outside of your typical lane, can help focus your mind on the new challenge, increase daily motivation, and help you learn and appreciate more about your body’s capabilities, perhaps in ways you had previously discounted or had not considered.

Setting a goal…helps you grow as a runner

If you have had problems staying on track in times past, setting a goal might have been scary because the commitment required felt risky or your routine is like a warm, comfortable sweater.  If you love 5Ks and 10Ks, doing a longer race might not turn you into a marathoner, but might just help you succeed further at your shorter efforts.  Conversely, a runner with a typically high volume or who enjoys longer races, might return to them with a bit more speed if a training cycle focused on a goal 5K or 10K every so often.


Beyond these reasons, setting a goal also allows your friends and family to enjoy your running with you.  A goal race is understandable and relatable even to those who don’t run regularly.  It provides clarity and understanding for how much running has meant to you when that enthusiasm is expressed through searchable results.  It also provides a great opportunity to get a friend or family member to set their own goal alongside yours, and reminds them how persistence is key to seeing those long term goals realized.


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