SMART Goals For Running
SMART goals are usually used in business rather than fitness – think sales, targets, customers, that kind of thing. But with spring here (or nearly here, at least), you might be feeling inspired by all the runners currently out training for their spring marathons, or by the parkrunners you dodge every Saturday morning when you’re out walking the dogs.
If you are feeling inspired to start running, or you’re already a runner but you want to challenge yourself, you could do worse than follow the SMART principles to reach your goals. There are variations on the acronym but they all follow this theme:
I’m going to go through each one in turn, to show you how these can relate to running.
Rather than say, ‘I’m a fat porker and need to start running/running more’, set yourself a goal. Whether it’s a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, full marathon, ultra, or just your very first mile without stopping, set a specific goal. I didn’t do this when I started running. I just decided I was going to go and run a few laps round my local park. What actually happened was, I ran about three feet, then collapsed in a coughing fit, went home and didn’t run again until I got myself a beginner’s schedule and had a specific target to reach (which in my case was either 5k or 30 minutes, I can’t remember which but for me they were about the same thing at the time anyway).
A schedule – whether that’s an old-school printed-off-the-internet program (such as the ones you can get on the Hal Higdon website), or one of those new-fangled app things (such as the NHS C25K app, which is also available as a podcast) – will show you daily and weekly what you need to do and allow you to track/measure your progress. It’s really motivating to see how you progress each week.
It’s all very well saying, ‘Yay, I’m going to run a marathon’, but if you’ve never run before and the marathon’s in a few weeks’ time then I don’t want to sound like a killjoy but nope, that ain’t going to happen. So set yourself an achievable goal. If you’re a current runner and have a few half-marathons under your Fitbelt (other running belts are available), then a full marathon a few months later is totally realistic but, if you’re a beginner, then it might be best to have a goal of a 5k to start with and go on from there.
Are your goals relevant? Do you actually want to do that 5k or are you doing it just because your friends are? Do you even like running? If your goals aren’t relevant to what you want to do, then you’re not going to enjoy it and you might be better off doing something else instead. Although, saying that; doing a race because your friends are isn’t a bad thing. Especially if you all go to the pub after. In fact, it’s a good thing because you all go to the pub after.
Do you have enough time to reach your goal? If you’ve never run before and you’ve signed up for a 10k in six weeks’ time then, although if you have a decent level of fitness you’ll get round it okaaaaay, you won’t have done yourself justice, so make sure you have enough time to train for the goal you want to achieve.
So, there you have the SMART principles used in relation to running and, if you use these to start you off running or to progress your running further, you should see clear progress as you go through them.
This post was in collaboration with Vitabiotics.