You may have heard about SMART goals from a job, but they can be really useful ways to set goals for all sorts of aspects of life including running, In this blog post I explain what they are and how to use this approach for running and fitness goals.
Firstly, what does “SMART” stand for?
Let’s talk through each one with examples.
This means being really clear about the goal and making it detailed, not broad. So instead of “I want to run faster” you might say instead “I want to improve my 5k time by 1 minute” or “I want to improve my tempo pace by 15 seconds per mile”. Having a race as a goal is wonderfully specific as you have a distance to achieve right there, and you might want to aim for a time too.
This is usually a fairly easy on with running as we measure things like time, distance and pace quite regularly. So picking a goal that’s measurable with the stats works well. You might have a goal to enjoy running more, so to measure this you could keep a training diary and score your runs for fun to keep track.
To you have the time, money, support and flexibility to achieve a goal? For example marathons and even ultras are great distances and make great goals, but it’s worth thinking about whether you have the time and resources to commit to the training before making them a goal.
Is this goal realistic for you? If you are new to running a mountain ultra might be too big a step right now, you don’t know how your body will adapt to running and what you enjoy! For me realistic goals are often found by breaking down larger goals. So someone running their first marathon might aim for a 10k, then a half marathon before they go on to do the full 26.2 miles.
This has two aspects; picking a time box for the goal so it doesn’t drift. So you might say you want to improve your 5k time by 1 minute in the next 4 months. Again races are great here as there is a fixed date in the diary. There is also an aspect of allowing yourself enough time to achieve the goal. Not run a marathon before? If you can run 10k not I’d allow at least 5 months to build to a marathon.
I hope that’s helpful! As always I can help with goal setting and helping you to achieve your running goals.