Running Goals

A beginners' group at a race

There is a heated – but ultimately fruitless – debate about the difference between a jogger and a runner. One distinction that is sometimes proposed is that runners have goals against which they measure their performance.

For some people, the joy of running is setting, and achieving, their goals. This might be to take part in a particular race or event, to lose weight, to achieve a particular time, or to improve over time.

Some suggestions for setting goals

  • Set a goal which is achievable but challenging. It should be specific, positive, and tied to a particular timeframe.
  • Seek advice from more experienced runners about what you might realistically achieve. There are some well known relationships between, for example, half marathon times and marathon performances which can be used to estimate what you are likely to be able to do.
  • Your goals should be over a timescale of months, rather than weeks or years.
  • If your goal is a long way off – such as completing a marathon – set some intermediate targets for yourself - such as completing a half marathon. These intermediate targets should be measurable, time-phased, and aimed at producing the optimum performance to meet your ultimate goal.
  • Visualise what it will be like to achieve your goal. Promise yourself a reward for when you achieve it.
  • Tell your friends, colleagues, and clubmates about your goals. This will help to maintain your commitment. Pin a reminder on the fridge. Get together with a friend, and agree to do something together. You might both agree to run in a race, for example.
  • Don't become obsessive, or put your goal above your family, friends, or your health. If you get injured before your marathon and cannot safely take part, then adjust your goals. You can always take part in another race.