Looking at the finish line can really help you achieve your goals as a distance runner. Formulating a plan with attainable goals is a great way of staying motivated for the novice runner. As you start setting goals, you build your own motivation, and your running becomes more rewarding.
Here are some basic pointers for using goal-setting:
First, keep it challenging yet achievable. The idea of running 26.2 miles doesn’t sound fun if you don’t enjoy running. Challenge yourself, but don’t overdo it. Injury and “bad run days” will frustrate you when trying to motivate yourself for the next run.
Make it specific and measurable. If you say you’ll train in the early AM, does that mean the cold and wet ones too? What is your plan to increase mileage? Are you tracking your performance with a wearable fitness device? All things to consider when attacking increased distance.
Do you need a reward system? If so – set one up! When I’m running long distances, I typically reward myself with meals of my choice. I’m burning way more calories than I can usually eat in a day – so I enjoy it. Some people start a “challenge” among friends or coworkers with online social apps. Do what motivates you!
Make the plan to run on a regular basis. Achieving any goals will mean you need some kind of training plan. A basic rule of thumb when starting out is to run two days during the week and one day on the weekend. Over time you’ll develop a preference for running. Example: Before or after a meal…in the AM or PM etc.
My preferences is to run in the early AM, on an empty stomach, in a cold light rain. Weird I know, but on days like that, I have my best runs.
Train to cover a specific distance. Don’t be too concerned with your speed and just focus on including a range. Again SPEED is not an issue when increasing mileage. Go one mile, then 3k, then 3m, then 5k, 10k, 1O miles, 1/2 Marathon, etc… It adds up very quickly.
One of the most powerful ways to set distance goals is to enter a race. Most people simply register and then train towards that date. Generally, if you enter a large competition, they’ll have a “recommend a plan to follow.” If they don’t follow a training program or schedule which you feel will help you reach these goals (like this one).
Lastly, keep in mind that hydration, equipment, and nutrition are all KEY components of distance running. Learn to listen to your body and give it what it needs before it needs it.
YOU CAN DO IT! My philosophy has been “If I can run for an hour, I can run for six hours!” Try your best to achieve your goals, enjoy working towards them and don’t forget to celebrate when YOU finally reach your goals.