SMART goal setting for runners

Whether you’re aiming to run off a few pounds or setting your sights on a marathon PB, you've got a much better chance of achieving your goals if you set them the SMART way.

SMART goal setting for runners

Setting attainable goals gives you focus. If you just go out running occasionally and you don't have a purpose, it can be easy to become demotivated and lose sense of why you're doing it in the first place. This is one of the reasons why some people fail to stick to a regular exercise routine and many give up altogether.

Goal setting and recording your progress also helps you see if your training is working, allowing you to adjust accordingly.

Finally, having a goal in sight also gives you an amazing sense of achievement when you do finally achieve it. This leaves you with much more confidence to go on and achieve your next goal, from running races to other areas of your life.

What do you want?

Figuring out exactly what you want to achieve is the first and most important step. Do you want to run further? Faster? Or just feel fitter? Set both short and long term goals - they are of equal importance to keep you motivated and engaged with your training programme. 


It’s important that your goals are SMART - this means:


Specific: What exactly is it that you want? (E.g. How much weight do you want to lose? How far do you want to be able to run? Or how fast?)
  • Measurable: How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What measurements will you make and when?
  • Achievable: What is it that convinces you that you can achieve this goal?
  • Relevant: Why is it important to you?
  • Timely: How long will it take you to achieve the goal or goals?

Here's an example:

  • Specific: I want to run my next 10K race in 45 minutes.
Measurable: I will measure my minute-mile pace with weekly tempo runs to ensure I'm on target. 

  • Achievable: I have run for 46 minutes before and know I can improve my training/diet, so am positive I can achieve this.

  • Relevant: It is something I have always wanted to achieve. 

  • Time: I shall do this in 12 weeks time

Essential questions

Before you finally commit to your goal, ask yourself:

  • What do you need to do or change to make your goals a reality?

  • Who could help you achieve your goals?

  • What steps do you need to take to reach your goals?

  • How will you feel when you have achieved your goals?
  • How will you celebrate or reward yourself?

The four keys to successful goal setting

To set and achieve your goals make sure you:

  1. Identify what it is you want in the near future and also further down the line.

  2. Make sure your goals are SMART.

  3. Work out what could go wrong and plan for it.
  4. Ask yourself the essential questions before diving in.

Entering a race is a great place to start, so head over to our Events hub for inspiration. Now you are ready to go and make your dreams a reality, enjoy the new challenges that lie ahead!

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