In reflecting on how your ambitions might fit into this framework, consider setting multiple goals in order of importance. Maybe your “A” goal is to run a sub-3:30 marathon, and your “B” goal is to finish under 3:45. You’d be happy with both, but you’d prefer to strive for Plan A if training goes according to plan. This offers some flexibility in case you are sidelined by an injury or some other unforeseeable circumstance. It also can help you from getting too fixated on a single number.
Additionally, you can set process goals for training within the S.M.A.R.T. framework. For instance, perhaps you want to work to run six days a week or begin implementing more speed work. Just as you would with race goals, be sure to not only set the goal, but also think about the steps necessary to achieve it.
Establishing a greater purpose behind your running, along with concrete goals for racing and training, sets you up for greater motivation and success in the upcoming season.
By Mackenzie L. Havey. Mackenzie Havey (née Lobby) writes about endurance sports, mind/body health and wellness, and adventure travel. Her work has appeared in Runner’s World, SELF, Triathlete, TheAtlantic.com, ESPN.com, the Star Tribune and elsewhere. In addition to completing 14 marathons and an Ironman triathlon, she is a USA Track & Field-certified coach, an instructor in the Physical Activity Program in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, and has done training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
[This article was updated on January 1, 2022]