Goal setting – The need to know
GOAL SETTING – How it is done…
By Steve Manning – Podiatrist, coach, runner
Goals are one of the most important aspects of a successful training program. They serve as the main motivation for why you are running. Without them it is much harder to stay dedicated and committed to the training. They also keep you on target and control your training so that you do not train too hard too soon. Finally the achievement of your goals after months of training gives you much more satisfaction in your accomplishment so that you are keen to set new goals for the future.
GOAL SETTING SEMINAR
8 February 2017
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CHARACTERISTICS OF GOALS
Goals must be realistic but challenging. They should be achievable if you put some extra effort into your training. They need to be based on your current ability and experience with a target that will not come easily by just running the way you always have before. They also need to be based on an understanding of your goal race course and likely conditions. They should be measurable and focussed more on your individual improvement rather than placing in a competition. You can only control what you do and not what others do. It should be very clear if you achieve your goal that you have performed up to your plan. There should be a progressive improvement over seasons and years.
TYPES OF GOALS
There are many different types of goals which you may set in different situations. The most obvious is a time goal to run a personal best, crack a time barrier like a 4 hour marathon or set a qualifying time. As you get older and move into a new age group you can reset all these goals so they continue to be a motivation far past your prime. A common goal for novices is just to run a certain distance. It might be to finish your first marathon or half but could also be to do the couch to 5km or 10km. These distance goals most often occur in a race but can also be training goals to run your longest run ever.
It is better to leave your first run over the marathon or half for the race itself rather than try to do it in training beforehand. Other training goals might be to be consistent in your training without a day missed or it can be your fastest 1km time (often run in the power session), or best session ever. Competitive goals of winning or placing in your age group are out of reach for most runners but you could set a goal of being in the top 100 in a race. You might also set a competitive goal of beating a friend or family member in a race but keep it fun. Lifestyle, social and health goals are often why people start running but they can continue to be your motivation long after you have caught the running bug.
MAJOR RACE GOALS
The main goal of training should be to run your best possible time in your most important race. That means all the interim and lead up races are part of your training rather than just an end in themselves. At the beginning of each season you should set your goals for your major races. Then after all of the training has been completed you should revisit these goals to see if they are still realistic and challenging. Sometimes there are disruptions in training that have prevented you from running as well as you planned. You may have to create more realistic goals in the circumstances. Less often people will improve much better than expected and need to make their goals more challenging. A predictor race with two weeks to go will help you determine what you should aim for in your major goal race. You can then set a pace goal for the race so that you do not make any strategic errors like going out too fast. Along with these goals should be some contingency planning so that you do not stick blindly to your goals when the conditions make it unrealistic. If something goes wrong in the race you should have mentally prepared so that you can evaluate your condition and adjust your goals accordingly.
LEVELS OF GOALS
You should always set three levels of goals for your major races. Satisfactory goals are ones that you will be happy with achieving. Challenging goals are the ones you are mainly aiming to achieve. These are possible if things go as planned and you have a good day. Ultimate goals are if everything goes perfect and you perform better than expected.
By setting goals you can bring meaning to your running. Many of the benefits of being fit and active are a by-product of achieving your running goals. If you share your goals with others then it helps commit you to the plan that is required to achieve your goals. Goals help drive you to another level and increase the satisfaction and joy of any achievement.
Want to learn more about how to maximise your potential in running? Listen up and learn with RunTalk, a running podcast that discusses all things running; from nutrition and goal setting through to the running technique and footwear choice, including everything in between.
If you are interested in joining a running program that will help you achieve your goals, we recommend having a look at the Marathon School program. The easy to follow minimalist program is designed to help everyday runners reach their goals and dreams in running. Whether that be running 10km non stop, running a half marathon or simply finishing a full marathon, Marathon School is a dedicated step by step program with keen running coaches who are there to help you every step of the way.