Every runner needs a little bit of goal-based inspiration to keep their training on track.
“Goals inspire us. They motivate and give us purpose,” says Jason Fitzgerald, a 2:39 marathoner and the founder of Strength Running. “Without a goal, or something to work toward, why work so hard?”
He said, in his experience, he’s found that runners are most successful when they set a large, long-term goal that’s almost a stretch—something slightly out of reach but still in the realm of possibility.
Of course, he explained that it’s important to also set short-term goals, like finishing a long run every weekend or building to 30 miles per week over the course of five weeks, in order to sustain consistent progress towards the stretch goal.
Fitzgerald says that he loves to see runners set goals that help them focus on the process of training, rather than their long-term goal. A few examples that he suggests:
- Increasing your long run by one mile every other week
- Running a faster workout once per week
- Completing a core workout after every run
- Getting eight hours of sleep (an important training component that is commonly neglected) every night
Fitzgerald said that these goals might not be the most interesting or exciting, but they're still something fun to work towards in order to promote consistent running.
“Consistency is what I call the ‘secret sauce’ to successful running,” he added.
For runners who are ready to take on a more challenging goal, Fitzgerald suggests focusing on setting a goal time for particular race.
“A new runner might have a personal best time of 28 minutes in the 5k and their more challenging goal will be to run two minutes faster within the next three months,” he said. “Or if time-based goals aren't interesting—always do what you find interesting— then you can move up in distance and attempt your first 10k, half-marathon or even marathon. Just make sure you're ready to train for a marathon.”