There’s a SMART way to establish goals and objectives.
SMART is a mnemonic acronym that provides guiding criteria in the setting of objectives.
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 program.
- Specific: What exactly is it that you want? (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?
Notice that these criteria don’t say that all objectives must be quantified on all levels. It is the combination of the objective and its action plan that is really important. Therefore you should focus on both and not just the objective.
Whether you’re aiming to run off a few pounds or setting your sights on a marathon, you’ve got a much better chance of achieving your goals by setting them the SMART way.
Goals give you focus. If you’re just running and you don’t have a purpose it is easy to become demotivated and lose sense of why you’re doing it.
Vague goals such as “to become a better runner” or “to train harder” do not focus your efforts.
Set SMART goals in running:
Make sure that your goal answers who, what, and when. Simply saying that you want to “run faster” or “lose weight by running” are general goals.
A specific goal helps keep you motivated because you know exactly what you need to do to accomplish it. As you move closer to your goal, you get excited and motivated by your progress, so you’ll work even harder to get to that end result.
Example of a specific goal would be: “I want to run my next 10k race in 45 minutes”, “I want to improve my PR in the marathon by two minutes in five months.”
When choosing a running goal, make sure you also set criteria for measuring your progress. Making your running goals measurable will help you stay on track, maintain your motivation, and know when you’ve reached your target. To figure out if your goals are measurable, ask yourself things such as How much? and How many?
Example: I will measure my pace with weekly tempo runs to ensure I’m on target.
An example of a specific and measurable goal is “to run sub-6 minute pace for 10K by the end of the summer,” or “to run a minimum of 20km per week for each of the next 6 weeks.” Both a target and a time for achievement are clearly stated.
While it’s good to set running goals, it’s important to choose ones that you’ll be able to accomplish if you’re willing to do the work. The best goals will require you to push yourself to achieve them. If a goal is too far out of reach, you probably won’t truly commit to going after it because deep down you know it’s not achievable.
To figure out if a goal is attainable, see how it compares to your previous running achievements.
Example: I have run for 45 minutes before and know I can improve my training/diet, so am positive I can achieve this.
Just because you’re a runner doesn’t mean you have to set a goal that’s very popular among other runners. For a goal to be relevant, it should be something that you consider to be worthwhile and important, so you’re willing and able to work towards it. Your goals should represent you, so they shouldn’t just be something that someone else is doing or suggesting that you attempt to achieve.
Example: It is something I have always wanted to achieve.
Make sure you attach deadlines to your goals. Having a deadline will keep you motivated and prevent you getting bored or wanting to skip workouts. If you find that you’re ready to achieve your running goal way ahead of schedule, then readjust your goal and keep challenging yourself.
Example: I shall do this in 8 weeks’ time
Goal setting and recording your progress helps you see whether your training is working, allowing you to adjust accordingly. This gives you an amazing sense of achievement when you do finally reach your goal, whether they’re related to running or other areas of your life.
Running provides a boost to confidence by achieving goals previously settled. By setting and achieving goals, you can help give yourself a greater sense of empowerment that will leave you feeling much happier.
Running brings a feeling of pride that is unique to other forms of exercise. This sense of accomplishment and boost in self-esteem can keep you motivated.