How to set goals like a professional runner

Set Goals like a Pro

So its 2020 and maybe a New Year’s resolution isn’t for you. But what about setting a running goal for the new decade? Something that will inspire you through the worst of winter, keep you on pace through the spring thaw and moving towards your vision. Goals are a really effective way of dragging your butt out the door when you brain says to stay in bed.

Who better to take goal setting advice from than successful professional runners? Here is a selection of strong advice to get you going and ready to bring your best to the road or track in 2020!

Nobody ever told me, “You have to win the 2014 Boston Marathon” or “You have to make the 2012 Olympic team.” Those were goals I set for myself. When I told myself, “I want to win Boston,” it just felt right. I knew that chasing that goal would motivate me to do what was necessary to achieve it and that doing so would require me to do my best. Your goals should have that same pull on you. They should be things you want to achieve for yourself, not to meet someone else’s expectations. Training to reach a goal requires a lot of hard work. When you hit a tough stretch, either physically or mentally, if the goal you’re working toward has deep significance for you, you’ll find a way to persevere. But if someone else thrust the goal upon you, when you hit tough stretches, you’re going to think, “Wait, why am I doing this?” Most of us have enough areas in our lives where we have to meet others’ expectations. Let your running be about your own hopes and dreams.

– Meb Keflezighi, Team USA Olympian & Boston Marathon Winner

In 2012, I wanted to go to the Rio Olympics, so [my coach and I] worked backwards, in terms of how to qualify. But we also had goals for each season leading up to my qualifiers, [like the] Canadian records, Championship races and medal contention etc. For life goals, I’ll always keep that target in mind but I know that there might be some different paths and bends in the road to get there. Regardless of the goal, I have learned that I have to be vocal and share my goals with those around me. Keeping it a secret means I am carrying the risk of failure solely on my shoulders. When I share my goals with my family, close friends and coach, it means they are there to help me when I hit a bump or come to a crossroad and need help.

– Lanni Marchant, Canadian Marathoner and Olympian

Enjoy the process of chasing those goals. We don’t always achieve what we set out to do, so it’s important to have fun, and appreciate the effort and determination it takes to even approach lofty goals. It takes the pressure off when you realize the journey is better than the destination.

– Cam Levins, Canadian Record holder in the Marathon

If you have a healthy perspective, you can always put lofty goals out there for yourself. The trick is striving for the goal, but being grateful for the progress if you don’t happen to reach it. I use the analogy of a student who is striving to become valedictorian of her class. She sits in the front row of the class, asks questions when she doesn’t understand, studies well and does all her homework. On the day of her final exam she misses a question and gets beat to the valedictorian chair. She didn’t reach her goal, but she was a far greater student in pursuing the goal If I fall short, I still have the strength and training behind me as I set out for my next goal. I set myself up the best I can to achieve a race goal. When I fall short, there is always something to be grateful for and it is usually that I became stronger and healthier in the process.

 Deena Kastor, Marathoner, Team USA Olympic Medalist

To build back my passion towards the sport, I made simple, low-level daily goals. I completed them and it worked. Those low-level goals built the foundation to support my mid-level goals and those mid-level goals will set me up to accomplish the top-level goals. Goal setting is extremely important to give your training a specific purpose that will allow you to focus on the bigger picture.

Trevor Hofbauer, Marathoner, Team Canada 2020


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