Setting SMART goals for runners

It’s the time of year when runners set their goals for the 12 months ahead. I posted on Instagram the other day about how ‘run more’ is not a great goal. Not because running more isn’t a great thing to want to go, but because it’s too vague to be able to aim for it. 

What does running more look like? In order to make it happen, you need to be more specific. 

You’ve probably encountered ‘SMART goals’ if you’ve had an annual appraisal at work. They can feel a bit business jargon. But they make a lot of sense when it comes to running. 

If you’re not familiar, SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time based

So if we’re intending to ‘run more’, we need to break it down. If you don’t have a clear idea of what ‘run more’ means, how will you know how to make it happen and, more importantly, how will you know when to celebrate actually achieving it?

‘Run more’

Be specific – do you mean more miles in total than you ran in 2018? Or more frequently? Maybe both. We need to know what it is exactly you’re aiming for.

Is it measurable? Running more miles in 2019 than 2018 is a pretty measurable goal. If you ran 500 miles last year, you know how many you need to do in the year ahead. But you need to find your mileage for last year and set a goal for next year that is….

Achievable. It’s got to be something that you could actually achieve. So maybe the leap from 500 miles last year to 2,000 in one year is a bit ambitious. Don’t let this put you off being ambitious though.

Relevant – ironically I don’t think this one is very relevant to us here. If your goal is running based, you’re hardly likely to be included waterskiing in your goal setting. I like to think of this more as ‘relevant to you’, so something that excites you and isn’t something you think you should aim for because other runners are.

Timebased – this doesn’t mean your PB, it’s about setting a timeframe for when you’re going to make this all happen. So a New Year’s resolution for 2019 mileage has a 12 month deadline. If your goal is around setting a marathon PB, it’s going to happen either April or October time.

My goals

So here’s what I want to make happen in 2019…

  • Run a spring marathon
  • Run a faster 5k – sub 22 mins by June
  • Run a faster 10k – sub 46 mins by August

Best of luck with yours!

Planning to run a race in 2019? I have training guides for 5k, 10k and the marathon distances, all featuring easy-to-follow training plans.