4 Long-Term Goals for Runners

As you set your goals for the New Year, consider planning beyond your next race or even your next season and choosing an ambitious long-term target.

"If you're just looking at lots of short cycles, it's hard to reach your potential," says Jess Cover, a running coach at On Track Performance Coaching in Burlington, Vermont. You can lose motivation once you hit a short-term goal, letting the fitness you've built lapse. Or you can train or race too much, burning out before you peak.

By setting your sights on a macro-goal in the future, you can string together shorter training cycles and smaller victories in a way that builds toward a big win.

The 25 Golden Rules of Running

6-Month Goal: Increase Short-Race Speed By 1 to 2 Percent

If you haven't been running regularly, spend 1 to 3 months building a base of at least three weekly runs, working up to at least 6 miles for your weekly long run, says Tim Bradley, M.S., C.S.C.S., the assistant cross-country and track coach at St. Louis University and owner of Big River Personal Coaching. Then add one speed workout per week: After a 1- to 2-mile warm-up, run 6 to 8 30-second repeats at goal race pace or slightly faster, with 1 to 2 minutes of jogging in between.

Each week, either speed up or lengthen your repeats until you're running 30-second intervals at your mile race pace ("as fast as you can run while still feeling like you have another gear you can change into," Bradley says) or 2- to 3-minute intervals at 5K or 10K pace. If you've been training consistently, do one speedwork day per week during the first three months, plus a long run and 1 to 3 easy runs.

Beginning in the second month, swap one easy run for a tempo run each week. By race day, you'll have honed your speed—and built the endurance to maintain it. (Try these 4 Moves Guaranteed to Make You Faster).

More: 5 Ways to Improve Your 5K Speed

  • 1
  • of
  • 2
NEXT

About the Author

Runner's World

Runner's World is the world's leading running magazine. Covering topics such as shoes and gear, race training, nutrition and health, Runner's World appeases to the novice runner and veteran alike.

Runner's World is the world's leading running magazine. Covering topics such as shoes and gear, race training, nutrition and health, Runner's World appeases to the novice runner and veteran alike.

Discuss This Article