Having goals is an intrinsic part of being an athlete. Here’s how to cross the finish line of your goal-setting.
Make your goals realistic
The most important thing when it comes to goal-setting is setting your sights high, but not unreachably lofty. If you’re a beginner runner, setting your sights on a marathon is likely going to leave you discouraged. But, if you’ve run a couple half-marathons and think you’re ready for the next step, setting a marathon goal makes sense. The great thing about goals is that once you’ve achieved one, you can raise the bar just that much higher the next time.
“I want to run faster” is an admirable running goal, but way too vague. Something along the lines of “I want to run a sub 50 minute 10K,” is much more specific and therefore, the process to achieve that goal seems more real.
Write them down
Writing down goals compels you to truly consider what you want. Taking something out of the fluid world of your thoughts and hopes and putting it in the concrete world of writing gives it importance.
Sometimes our goals can seem insurmountable. If you decide that your goal is to run a sub 1:30 half, take the time to think about how you will go about doing this and how that will fit into your current life. You’ll be surprised by the little things that you can do to make a difference; for example, why not leave your foam roller beside your tv and make it your policy to foam roll during commercial breaks? Why not take an extra five minutes and add strides to the end of your runs a couple times a week? Breaking your goal down into smaller, achievable actions can make it less daunting.
What could stop you from achieving your goals? Is it a time-management issue? Do you have a recurring injury that flares up from time to time? Do you need to work on your core strength? Identifying obstacles goes hand in hand with creating your action plan. Thinking about (but not dwelling on) things that could throw you off course will leave you more prepared with a plan b.
Keep them small in number
Too many goals will leave you overwhelmed. Focus on the ones that are important. Vowing to race at least 6 times this year, lose ten pounds and complete your first marathon is a lot for one person to handle. Remember, once you’ve achieved a goal, you can always set your sights on the next one, so it is great to have lots in mind.
Share them with someone
This isn’t to say that you need to tweet “Decided to run sub 3 marathon #traininggrind #dreambig #workhard” to all of your 300 followers. Most people are afraid of failing and therefore opt not to share their goals with others. However, trusting a few supportive friends and family members with your goals will give you people to rely on to help you through. If things aren’t going as planned, it is important to have someone to call to remind you of why you wanted to do this in the first place. Chances are, some of your friends will want to participate in certain parts, whether it be signing up for that pilates class at the gym, or making a pact to also give up junk food.
Put a deadline on them
Saying: “I want to complete my first trail race,” could mean you won’t get around to doing it for another 5 years. Setting the goal of “I will race the Limberlost Trail run in July” forces to face your goal and take action.
Check in with how it is going
Monitor how your goal is coming along. This will keep you motivated to continue.
Compliment your athletic goals with your lifestyle ones
Don’t let your athletic goals dominate over your other ones. If you set a training goal to consume less processed food and a lifestyle goal of spending more time with your kids, try and integrate the two of them. Why not make cooking and baking at home an activity that you do together?