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Goal Setting 101

I give goal setting talks to the Running Room Clinics regularly. It all starts with the basics then we discuss and expand upon these concepts over the weeks of the clinic. Here is the gist of my Goal Setting 101 presentation:

Goal setting helps you channel your mental and physical energy towards a purpose and sport psychologists have conducted dozens of studies showing that goal setting leads to improvements in athletic performance.

When setting goals, consider SMART objectives:

S - Specific - run a specific race
M - Measurable - ex: time goal (if possible)
A - ACCEPTABLE - it has to be a goal that you set for yourself- some people call this "Action", alternatively
R - Realistic - no sense planning a marathon if you are a new runner!
T - Timely - a date set - this one you can change if needed!

There are different types of goals:

Daily – to get out and run, stick to a training schedule.
Short Term (this is a SMART goal) - i.e. the clinic goal
Long Term (this is a SMART goal) - i.e. this year
Ultimate, or, Dream goal - something not realistic in the next year, but maybe some ultimate dream to work towards, even if it seems unattainable presently (i.e. a marathon, ironman, triathalon)

If you don't write it out and make a plan on how to get there, the chances of making it are slim. Immediate goals need to be realistic, attainable but not so easy it takes no effort. You need to make a plan, check for progress, make changes when necessary, and then reward yourselves along the way. Please choose rewards that are congruent with your goals. Running clothes/gear is a great choice! Cheesecake not so much :)

It needs to be fun, motivating and challenging without fear of failure, for the individuals' success.
Helpful tips for accomplishing realistic goals:
Follow a Training Schedule:
  • Use a professional structure either with a group or individually. This will pace you in a safe and appropriate manner. It can be a team effort- goals can be shared and the process to get there can be part of a team concept. It is harder to quit working towards your goal if you are part of a collaborative team effort.
  • Structure effectively sets smaller “stepping stone” goals towards your larger goal i.e. increasing intervals/distances in working towards a goal race
  • It also helps to keep you on track when the inevitable life interruptions occur. Try to stay on schedule even if you fall behind, but reign it in if you feel you need to and try to slowly catch back up.
Utilize time-management principles:
If you are really on a training schedule you MUST plan the necessary time to train!

Record your progress! 
Use your training logs- they will help keep you on track and give you perspective on the bigger picture- week vs. day, month vs. week…. etc.

Don't be compulsive
Overtraining is counter-productive to accomplishing your goals. More is not always better. Listen to your body and back off when your legs feel fatigued or sore. Follow training guidelines (like the 10% rule and scheduled rest days!) Also, set a goal that will allow the necessary/required training time to condition. 


How do YOU achieve your goals?

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