Setting realistic goals

As someone who has only recently started to take running a bit more seriously I am full of enthusiasm for running. I want to go out and run faster and further as each week passes. As I develop an understanding of what I might be capable of I am starting to plan goals to aim at. I have short and medium term goals in mind, nothing concrete yet as I am still new to this. What I want to know is how do others on here go about setting realistic goals for themselves? What techniques do you employ to identify your goal? Is it finger in the air? Gut instinct? Round your target time down to the nearest minute? Or are there specific methodologies out there that help people set realistic goals?  Would be interesting to hear how others go about this.


  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    There are many methods for setting goals, and I use some in target and objective setting in work.  But running?  Firstly as a recent starter you won't have the background data that would allow you to judge whether your goal is achievable.  Secondly you really want to pick goals that mean something to you, so someone else's criteria might not apply.

    My only advice would be to set small goals for now, until you can judge what your long term goals will look like.  A goal of time for a long run that you can work up to, or a goal of number of miles in a week, or a goal of joining a club.  Even a goal of finishing a race.  Once you have a few races to compare you can then start looking at setting a goal of time for a set distance and figuring out what you need to do to get to that.

    I've hit one goal this year, but missed another.  The trick is not to let missing a goal be too demotivating.  Hence why I say small goals, one's that you know you will have to stretch a little to reach, but that aren't out of your present league.

  • My (not too technical!) method of goal setting has been to choose one pretty big goal for the year, and then have lots of little ones on the way to keep me motivated in the short term.

    Then, depending on how the 'little' goals go, the big one can be re-evaluated according to my (lack of?!) progress in the meantime - that way I always feel like I can acheive the 'big one'.

    I guess I'm just not very scientific!

  • I've been running on and off for about two years now and this year I decided I was going to do it properly. My overall goal was to become a runner, not just someone who went out for a trot with the vague idea that it might help me lose weight.

    So, goal one for this year is to go sub 60 minutes for a 10k. Goal two, complete the GNR and goal three, which meshes completely with the other two goals was to increase weekly mileage to a respectable level.

    Due to injury, I had to take three months out from April, which was pretty depressing as it rather messed with my sub-60 10k goal. I did the Greenwich Park 10k in March, trained resonably hard for it, but due to an enourmous hill that had to be scaled twice and a poorly calibrated Garmin, I missed my goal. Still, I have another 10k lined up for November and I'm looking out for one more to do before the end of the year.

     I've got a place for the GNR and I'm training hard for that, so *fingers crossed* that goal can be ticked off by 20 September. it's my first half marathon, so I've not set myself a goal to complete within a set time, just to finish is all I want.

    Due to GNR training, my weekly mileage is now around 16 - 20 miles. Not a lot by the standards of some of the folk on here, but for me, this is a real achievement and I can say, hand on heart, I'm a runner. So, one goal achieved.

    Hope that gives you some ideas.

  • AllNewTB wrote (see)
     Still, I have another 10k lined up for November

    I hope it's not the Movember, also in Greenwich Park? image The hill will still be there, and a false moustache will play havoc with your wind resistance. 

    I think I'm quite cautious when it comes to goal setting. I tend to break it down to my minute/mile pace and think what's an achievable amount to take off over the race distance. With my mile time I'd be ecstatic if I could take 16 seconds off it, for the marathon I'll be aiming for all of 10 minutes. 

    Targeting what you know to be a rogue distance pb and trying to bring it down in-line with your other pbs is also a good way of setting achievable goals. My HM PB is about 6 minutes soft of what it should be, so my medium-term goal will be to knock off 7-8 minutes, so that I'm still improving overall.

    Long term goals I think it's fair to aim for nice round numbers. image

  • Wobbled - it is indeed the Movember 10k, but the one at Milton Keynes, which I'm assured is flat.  That hill in Greenwich park creeps into my nightmares!

  • To be outcome based can sometimes be detrimental. Always having a target means that you're likely to 'fail' at times. That's not a nice feeling after you’ve just battled through a half marathon on a hot summer’s day. Try and think from a more process based outcome - that the race time/position isn't of paramount importance but how that run fits into the bigger picture and its all part of the process to something better. The times/improved race position will come when they are ready.  
Sign In or Register to comment.