New Running Goals

written by Austin Cammire, DPT

As we approach the end of the strange year of 2020 we start to look ahead to all 2021 will have in store for us. One thing that comes along with the “New Year, New You” saying is the fact that many of us will look to increase our activity levels as the new year begins. The best way to do this is to set
individual goals for yourself. Unfortunately, many of us end up not achieving our goals. Even worse, many of us have no idea where to start when setting these goals. This blog post will assist you with not just setting appropriate running goals, but also give you some tips on how you can reach the goals you have set!

You may have heard of SMART goal setting. This describes the idea of making sure all of your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This increases the odds you will achieve the goals you make. Here are three other tips for helping you reach your goals:

  • Start with a realistic goal: If you are new to running start by only running one to two days a week.
    • Once you have achieved this goal consistently you can then work to increase your running to three days a week, then four, and so on.

*If you can only run one mile at a time, do NOT set a goal you will run three miles three times a week. Set it up so you can successfully achieve the goal. You can then progress your distance as you build up your tolerance.

  • Share your goal with at least one other person:
    • Share your goal with someone you see frequently and are very honest with. Choose someone supportive of you such as a spouse, family member, friend, or co-worker.
    • This helps to create another form of external motivation and accountability (and honestly, we all could use a little extra external motivation at times).
  • Create a plan that works for you (make sure to stick with it):
    • There are many things in life that come up and can become a priority overreaching our running goals (if we let them).
      • These are a few tips I have found to be effective for sticking with your set plan:
        • Before each week begins take a moment to decide how many days you need to work out that week. Then decide exactly what days it will be.
        • Block this time off in your calendar ahead of time as a “fitness appointment” and treat this just like any other appointment.
        • Show up on time for this “appointment” and perform your run!

*It is also important to reflect on your past year when setting goals for 2021. This is where you will think about everything you have achieved during 2020. It will also allow you to identify places where you may have fell short on your goals. This can inspire you and provide you with some insight
to find alternative methods to achieve that goal in 2021!

Setting individual running goals is very important to help you set up a program that works for YOU. Thinking about the big picture of the year ahead of time can help figure this out. Determine when your most important race of the year is so that you can be in peak shape for this race.
After you have established your big goals for the year, I recommend breaking them down into smaller goals you can achieve in the short-term.

Consistently meeting these short-term goals will provide you with more motivation to continue working toward achieving your ultimate goal.
Unfortunately, sustaining an injury is one of the most consistent things preventing us from achieving our running goals. Here are a few general tips to help avoid injuries during your training this upcoming year:

  1. The 10% rule: Do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% over the previous week. This is a general rule but doesn’t work perfectly for everyone. Running mileage increases should be based on your level of running experience.
  2. Obtain proper footwear based on your foot type and the type of surfaces you plan to run on. If you need shoe recommendations to help you comfortably increase your mileage, visit our friends at Gazelle Sports! They can fit you in the perfect running shoe whether you are just starting out and it is your first pair or if you’ve been running for years and need a new pair to keep hitting your goals.
  3. Keep track of your mileage in each pair of shoes. Make sure to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles (this variation depends on running surface and running conditions).
  4. Increase your step rate per minute. The gold standard is around 180 steps per minute, but this is not appropriate for everyone. Start by counting what your natural cadence is currently.
    *If you are well below the target of 180 steps per minute, try to increase your rate by 5-10% while running at the same speed. Easy way to initially do this is on a treadmill because you can keep the treadmill the same speed. If your cadence is already at or near the 180 mark then just keep it up!

Lastly – sit down right now and write down a few goals you have for 2021! Maybe it’s to run a 5k, or shed some minutes off of your PR, or to run a marathon. Set those goals and make it a great 2021!

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