It’s 2020, and with your 2020 vision, you’re going to want to set some running goals. Goals that will inspire you to transform your running in 2020, allowing you to become a better version of yourself in the new decade. But here’s the problem, according to a University of Scranton study in 2014, less than 1 in 10 people who set out to achieve their New Year’s goals, achieve them. Only 2 in 3 stick it out past one month, less than 1 in 2 past 6 months, and less than 1 in 10 follow them out to the end – enjoying that feeling of achievement.

If you’re tired of not sticking out your New Year’s goals, then there’s something missing from the process. If all the steps aren’t in place, how can you expect to achieve what you aspire to do?

So, what’s the solution?

The clue is in the name at Running S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

Tip #1: “S” – Specific

The first tip to setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals in 2020 is to be specific – very specific. The more specific you are about your goals, the better and more able you’ll be to accomplish them no matter what method you use. This means taking things a step further, than simply aspiring to run more in 2020. Be specific, put a real and exact figure on it. Make it measurable.

Why is this so important? Without specifics, there’s no real target, just some vague direction. When the goal is vague, you can easily succumb to your emotions on the day. When not feeling motivated and with no specific target in mind, it’s easy to ditch that run, in favour of watching Netflix.

By determining a specific goal, you will fuel your energy and commitment to your training plan.

Tip #2: “M” – Meaningful

The second tip in setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals upon this new decade is to set goals that are meaningful enough to you that you’ll get out there and do whatever it takes to achieve them. This is the “why” in goal setting. Why go out for this run when you could easily spend your time watching Netflix?

When your goals have a deep enough meaning to you, you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve them. So, next to your specific goal, write out what that goal means to you and make sure that it’s something important. By doing this you’ll provide yourself with the “why” when things get tough. Inspiring you to overcome whatever challenges come your way.

Tip #3: “A” – Achievable

We all would love to run a sub-2-hour marathon like Eliud Kipchoge. For a variety of reasons, however, running a sub-2-hour marathon in 2020 is unlikely possible for many of us. Set goals that are achievable over the next 6 weeks (short term goals), 6 months (medium-term goals) that serve your big goal for 2020 (long term goals). Goals that you can achieve and celebrate, as you run faster and stronger by Running Smarter.

For example, if you’ve never ran more than 5k, don’t say you’re going to qualify for the Boston marathon in 2020. Set goals that you can achieve so that you can build on your momentum. Your short term goals should be something within your reach over the next two training blocks (3-4 weeks each), but not so easily attainable that they won’t take much work or effort on your part. This will also help you to build that all-important momentum. Once you achieve your year-long term goal, you can broaden this into something much greater and perhaps that may be qualifying for the Boston marathon.

Tip #4: “R” – Relevant

The fourth tip in setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals in 2020 is to set goals that are relevant to your long-term running goal. Your short-term and medium-term goals should be in line with and be in harmony with your long term goal. If your long-term goal is to run a sub-3-hour marathon, then setting goals to bench press 100kg won’t help you in obtaining that true feeling of fulfilment in achieving your long-term goal.

By setting short-term and medium-term goals that serve your long-term goal, you will dramatically increase your chance of obtaining it.

Tip #5: “T” – Time-Limited

The fifth tip to setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals in 2020 is to ensure that they’re time-limited goals. Place an exact date on when you plan to achieve these goals, and for you, this date may be your race day. If your plan is to run a sub-3-hour marathon in one year, break that down into medium-term (6 months) and short term (6 weeks) goals. This may be to run a half marathon in less than 1 hour 25 mins in 6 months (medium-term goal) as you build the distance that you can sustain such a running velocity.

When your goals are time-bound, they’re measurable, and you should hold yourself accountable by measuring those goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. How close are you to achieving your goals? How much further did you get from achieving your goals? Without making your goals time-bound and measurable, you won’t be able to see your progress.

Tip #6: “E” – Exciting

The sixth tip in setting goals using the S.M.AR.T.E.R. method is to ensure that your goals are exciting. Your motivation and hunger to strive towards your goal is ultimately driven by your emotions. As a result, you want to set goals that inspire and excite you.

These emotions can be the deciding factor in whether you can achieve your goal when faced with setbacks, failures, disappointment, fatigue, pain, tedium and a lack of desire to go out for that run when faced with harsh weather conditions.

Tip #7: “R” – Re-Evaluate

The final tip in setting goals with the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. method is to re-evaluate your training plan. The best way to re-evaluate is to do so objectively, taking the emotions out of the decision, by using regular scientific performance testing. If you’re hitting a brick wall with no progress, it’s time to consider adjusting your method and techniques.

Summary.

Take your goal setting seriously in 2020 by setting aside an hour to apply the S.M.A.R.T.E.R principle. I truly believe you’ll be amazed at what pours out.

Gavin is a sport & exercise physiologist and the founder of Running Smarter. As a 1st Class Honours graduate of Liverpool John Moores University and Ph.D. graduate of Aspetar Sports Medicine Hospital, Qatar, Gavin uses science to create fully customised training plans for runners just like you

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