It's time to start setting those running goals for the New Year! Is that something that you do? If not, you definitely should. Running goals are something that can keep you going on those days when you're not quite sure why you are going out the door. Having goals should be a big part of your running program.
However, you want to make sure that your goals are realistic and attainable. You shouldn't have running a 25:00 5K as a goal if you are currently running one in 45:00. But, you can have getting faster and setting a PR (Personal Record) for the 5K as a goal.
Your goals may be mileage related. If you're currently running 10 miles a week - you may decide to gradually up your running to 20 miles a week. If you're longest run of the week is 3 miles - you may decide by a certain date that you are running 5 or 6 miles at a time.
It's always good to have more than one goal for a year. If you are planning on running a marathon for the first time - that's a fantastic goal. But, have some other, smaller goals to keep your running fresh during the rest of the year. For instance, you could also have a couple of 10K's and a half-marathon as smaller goals.
I like to plan out what races that I want to run a year in advance. There may be some that pop up along the way - but, they will just be to help me along in the major race goals that I have. You may want to run a 5K each month - a 10K each quarter - a half-marathon every 6 months... you get the idea. That way you can pretty much map your training schedule for the year. This keeps me on track and helps me stay motivated.
And, remember, your running goals don't have to all be race/performance related. If you are prone to doing too much and getting injured - your goal may simply be to run smartly and injury free for the year. You may decide to run a race to raise funds for your favorite charity. You can be creative when setting your goals - they're your personal goals - you know what you want to achieve. No one else does.
Also, reward yourself whenever you hit one of your goals. Your reward could be a new pair of shoes, a running shirt that you've been wanting - or even an eating splurge. Remember - make your running fun! It's what will keep you doing it for years to come!
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