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3 Guidelines for Setting Running Goals


As the new year begins, many runners brainstorm possible running goals to pursue and work towards. Here are three guidelines to help you set achievable and realistic running goals as you plan out a year of training and racing.

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3 Guidelines for Setting Running Goals:

1. Allot enough time to base build and train for your race.

First, it’s important to have a solid aerobic base of easy paced miles before transitioning to training for your long distance race.

Think of your aerobic base as the foundation of a house. Your base is what your training is built upon and having a stronger foundation will yield stronger running. Additionally, it significantly reduces the risk of injury and burnout. On the other hand, having little to no aerobic base will increase your risk for injury and hinder your running potential.

As a running coach, I like my athletes to have at least a couple hundred base miles logged before training specifically for a long distance event. It’s not uncommon for runners to be base building for at least a few months or longer. So, when you are thinking about a race to run, make sure you add in any time needed to base build in addition to the time to formally train.

For instance, let’s say it’s January 5th and you want to run a marathon. You find one in May that looks fun and exciting, yet you haven’t been running for the past few months. Ideally, it would be best to find a marathon in the fall (at the earliest), so you can spend the winter and spring slowly and safely building your aerobic foundation before transitioning to marathon training.

Related: Base Building – What it is and Why It’s Important.

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2. Set small running goals along the way.

Creating a big running goal for yourself is exciting AND creating smaller, incremental goals will help keep you motivated, engaged, inspired, and dedicated to your training.

Again, let’s say it’s January 5th and you are wanting to run your first marathon in October. Ideally, you set small goals throughout the winter and spring as steppingstones as you continue to works towards your big October running goal.

For instance, possible small goals could be:

  • Build your aerobic base in increments of 50 miles
  • Run consistently 4-5 times each week
  • Slowly increase your weekly mileage

Incremental goals like these will make your large running goal seem much more achievable, approachable, and realistic as you can mentally check them off over time.

I have used this Believe Training Journal to record my training and running goals throughout the year. It’s fun and exciting to look back and see how far I’ve come.

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3. Create running goals that excite YOU!

Last but not least, you are unique. Therefore, your goals will be unique. If you want to be a successful runner, set running goals that excite and appeal to you.

Never set goals based off of what other people are doing. Unlike some people, you may not find running a marathon exciting. If this is the case, then do not spend your time doing it.

For example, you could:

  • Join a local running group
  • Travel to 3 states and running a race in each
  • Run consistently 4-5 times each week
  • Explore new parks, trails, and neighborhoods while running
  • Update a PR or work on speed

Whatever makes you feel excited and gets you out the door everyday is something to pursue!

Looking for Accountability with your Goals?

I would love to help you! Email me at [email protected] or check out my Run Coaching Services page to learn more.

Comment below:

What is one running goal you have for this year?

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