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Training & advice

SMARTER running goals

Keeping focused and consistent in your training is key to ensuring you progress your running fitness but sometimes this can be easier said than done. Life can get in the way and it can be all too easy to miss a few days training here and there and then, before you know it, you're fitness levels have slipped and your motivation takes a dive.

The best way to keep yourself motivated and on track is to set yourself a goal. Once you have a target or goal you are more likely to ensure that you fit your training into your life. The plan that you write to take you to your goal is like a jigsaw puzzle made up of many pieces. You won't want to miss putting a single piece into the puzzle and leaving it incomplete and so you will find that half hour to go for your run and you will arrange your social activities or television programmes around your running rather than the other way around! Once you have set your goal check that it is SMARTER before you set it in stone!

  • S is for Specific. Put some detail around your target. Rather than saying that you want to complete a 5k run you need to decide when and where this will take place.
  • M is for Measurable. Do you have a target time for your run? Do you want to run it faster than the last time or do you want to get round without walking?
  • A is for Agreed. Tell someone about your goal. This may be a running coach or leader or it could be a friend or member of your family. By talking it through with someone you will benefit from another pair of eyes looking at the goal, helping you to think through it more thoroughly, iron out the pros and cons and, in the long term, help you to stick with your decision.
  • R is for Realistic. To assess how realistic your goal is you need to benchmark where you are now. What are your current fitness levels? Perhaps you need to measure them if you're not sure. Once you know your starting point you need to look at the time you have available for training. With this information you will be able to work out how long it will take you to achieve the goal you are setting.
  • T is for Time Phased. You will have worked out when you want achieve your goal. Now you need to put in some milestones along the way. Are there some key sessions or races that you can run to check that your training is on track? Maybe you could put an interval session or threshold run every three or four weeks and note your improvement rate.
  • E is for Exciting. How much do you want to do this? This is crucial to your chance of success. Is this your goal or someone elses? If your training partner is persuading you to do an event that you don't really want to do you are less likely to achieve the target. This needs to come from you and you need to take ownership of it.
  • R is for Recorded. You need to log your training as you put the pieces into the jigsaw puzzle! You won't want to see gaps in your training so by recording each session you will look forward to putting in the next one as each session takes you nearer to your goal.