How to Set Smart Goals With the 2014 Runner Challenge

It's that time of year again when resolutions are posted everywhere and hopes and dreams fill the air. It's also the time when we put way too much pressure on ourselves to make big changes. If you want to make improvements and achieve running-related goals this year, set yourself up for success by setting smart goals.

I spent the better part of 10 years creating New Year's Resolution campaigns in the corporate fitness world, and learned three keys to achieving goals:

  1. Prevent the energy fizzle. Motivation tends to die off about five weeks into the year if you set goals high and start off even higher. Anything that is new is exciting, but unless it has meaning and is specific, it can fall by the wayside—especially if you start off like gangbusters. When setting goals for the year, make them meaningful and get specific. For instance, rather than saying you're going to run a half marathon, commit to a specific race. Set yourself up for success by giving yourself plenty of time to train, and consider racing in honor of a friend, family member or a charity. Your goal will turn into a meaningful mission greater than yourself and you'll have a constant stream of motivation along the way.

  2. Write down your goals. Those who are successful with resolutions write them down, make them visible, and use their community to keep them accountable. I host an annual motivational program called the Holiday Challenge, where runners create Facebook posts that list their weekly mileage goals. Every Monday they post their mileage goals for the week and base them on the reality of their schedules. In order to achieve resolutions, they need to be realistic and blend in with your life schedule. 

  3. Start with small goals. Those who set a series of smaller goals tend to be more successful than those who set one big one. A new runner named Jill set out to lose 40 pounds and run a marathon. She ended up pushing too hard, too fast, and cut her calories drastically. She crashed and burned two months into the program with injuries. Another woman named Sarah set goals to run her first 10K and to focus on eating a cleaner diet by adding one healthy ingredient and removing an unhealthy one every month. When Sarah successfully ran the 10K, she set another goal to run a half marathon. Along the way she shed 8 pounds of fat without dieting. 

More: Running to Lose Weight

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