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On setting goals...

It’s the beginning of a new year so everyone is focused on setting goals for the 365 days to come. Whether it’s a resolution to do something different or new or a goal to target a specific end result, it’s important to really pay attention to what type of goals you are setting and why you are setting these goals.

Often times people ask what types of goals they should be setting for their running… a few days ago I made a few suggestions that I would like to review and build upon.

  1. Take stock of where you are and set a goal to improve gradually from there. The smallest improvements are those that lead to the biggest successes long term.

  2. You don’t need to set your goal in miles… how about minutes or hours instead. Then you can focus on being out there and as you improve more miles will come. We all have 24 hours in a day, so it is up to you to decide how much time you will spend to dedicate to yourself and your wellness.

  3. Remove the word “try” … when you set your goals instead of saying “I will try”, say “I will”. Try implies failure.

As you set your goals it is important to realize that your short-term goals should align with your long-term goals. And not to set a goal for the sake of setting a goal, but a goal that will align with where you want to be in the future.

In 2018 I set a goal to run 1500 miles, which at the time I felt would be an improvement over 2017 where I ran 1421 miles. But in December of 2018 I realized that in order to get in 1500 miles I would have to up my mileage much more significantly than my body was prepared to handle. And I started to ponder these questions… why? What will be the benefit to running 1500 miles… just to end at a “nice” round number? Would I improve just by running 1500 miles? Would I be less stressed, sleep better, be faster, be stronger, be healthier…? And when I realized the answer would be no – I started to realize that this type of goal really didn’t align with my long-term goal which is to be running well into my 80s.

So, for 2019 I changed my perspective. After some thought and realization that in order to be running well into my 80s I needed to be healthy and strong with a good aerobic base, I determined that to build that base would need to be the foundation of my short-term goals. By using the Maffetone training method (i.e. fully aerobic low heart rate training) I would be able to improve my aerobic efficiency over the long haul without taxing my body. Most of the people who have found the most success with this method have determined that 7-10 hours a week is where they really started to see results. 7 hours a week is about 350 hours a year. Right now, I’m at about 6 hours a week. My goal over the first quarter of the year is to consistently train at 6 hours a week, then increase gradually to 7, and then to 8 by the end of the year. Gradual progress. Enjoyable running. And yes, the miles will come, and all those miles will directly benefit both my short- and long-term goals. In addition to this I realize that in order to see gains I would also need to clean up my diet and remove unnecessary stress and distraction from my life, both which are also actionable goals I’ve set for the short term as well.

And yes, I have some race time goals. But these are secondary, since sometimes it is not possible to place a timeline on when a specific time goal may happen. As long as I’m moving in the right direction, getting stronger every day – I’m quite satisfied with gradual progress.

Here’s to a great 2019 ahead!

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