Running Tips

Setting Goals and Targets: Why they help

As a school teacher, target setting is an integral part of my work.  We do a lot of work with students on the SMART principles of making sure what set is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Related.  The reason we do this is? In fairness it is because it works.   A target without being measurable is difficult to know when you have achieved it.  A target without a deadline can drift and drift until it becomes the never reachable tomorrow.

At the start of 2018 my health was not in a good place, my weight had ballooned to 22st and I had done very little exercise of any meaning in 2017.  I knew things had to change.  I decided to start with RED January, a challenge where you run everyday for the month.  So my running target was simple, run everyday at least a mile.  I would keep a calendar of the runs and the time deadlines were very clear.  As I kept my diary and stuck with the challenge; my running began to improve and I began to run further than I thought I would and by the end of the month had managed over 100 miles!  In the process I’d lost the best part of 2 stones in weight.  The target had been clear and I’d been accountable to myself to achieve it.

IMG_2020Now, what came next was probably the most important part, I set new goals.  If I had just drifted along going for social runs, I have no doubt that somewhere along the line I would have fizzled out and found myself back on the couch with a bowl of Ice Cream.  At the start of February I decided that I wanted to lose another 1.5st.  The weight loss was my goal and I knew regular exercise and a controlled diet would deliver the results.  This helped me to maintain my training and really help me to keep focus.  By the end of February my loss had been pretty remarkable and I was pleased with what I’d achieved but I knew it wasn’t enough.

At this stage I decided to enter some events and started with the Run Through 10k event on Good Friday in Victoria Park.  I set myself the target time of 1 hour.  I hadn’t run the distance in a while and in 2017 at the British 10k took 1 hour 6mins, so this target seemed like a good one to aim at. I actually ran it in 52 mins.  I was gobsmacked and had massively over achieved on my target.  This gave me a real confidence boost and totally changed my focus.

Now I was starting to feel like a runner, and runners had running goals not weight loss goals so I set some big targets for the year.  1. Run a sub 50 minute 10k 2. Run a sub 24 5k 3. Run a half marathon in under 2 hours.  I picked out events for each one and worked hard on ticking them off.

IMG_3024The sub 24 5k tumbled first at a May Parkrun though it was followed by the disappointment of a 2hour 6min half at Hackney.  In July I manged to get around the British 10k in 49:21, with some pacing help from @fordyruns.  So it was clear, the big goal was a sub 2 hour half and it would have to happen at Royal Parks Half in October.  I trained with a new determination, I needed to tick this target off and perform on the day, not repeating any of the mistakes of Hackney.  I was thrilled to negotiate the crowds and rain to finish in 1:50:58!  I had hit my last big target for the year, and 3 distances had been conquered (in my own way).  The targets and accountability of making them public on instagram spurred me on, without doubt.

So what to do next? That’s right, more targets, this time a marathon, I am signed up to 2 marathons in 2018 and the big target is to run sub 4 hours.

Whatever it is that you want to achieve, my advice is think it through and check that it’s IMG_8930SMART, write it down or share the target, accountability is a wonderful thing sometimes. Don’t compare yourself with others or get distracted by other people’s goals, keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short on occasion, re-evaluate the target and time frame and be determined to go out there and get it. You will do it!

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