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Setting realistic running goals: make (and keep) resolutions

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Are you ready for setting realistic running goals? On your mark. Get set. Goal!

How to start making realistic running goals?

Before you dive head-first into making goals, pump the brakes and consider what you want out of running. Are you new to the sport? Your resolutions could be built around creating a reliable routine. Maybe you’re a more experienced runner and you’re aiming for more mileage, a bucket-list race, or an ambitious PR. To meet those running goals, you might resolve to enhance the routine you already have.

Carlette Patterson, a renown sports life coach and founder of Patterson Sports Ventures, says that if you want to achieve commitments, one simple way to help is to write down your goals.

“Writing down your goals anchors your focus in what you want and makes you up to 1.4 times more likely to succeed than someone who didn’t write anything down.”

Set actionable, realistic goals now so you can start your best year of running on the right foot.

In addition, Patterson suggests figuring out your performance barriers, which is anything that can get in the way of achieving your goal. She calls overcoming these barriers "Action to Change." Practice these actions, and make adjustments if necessary.

“Once your Action to Change works, it becomes a winning strategy for you.”

Set actionable, realistic goals now so you can start your best year of running on the right foot. And know how often you should run (as a beginner). No matter what you want to achieve while running this year, think of these resolutions as smaller steps to help you get there.

Illustration of girl running up a mountain trail

Resolution 1: Try something new

We're not advocating you ditch running for cycling or swimming, although those are excellent choices for cross training. If you want to hit your goals, you're going to have to get outside your comfort zone every now and again. Do you stick to the road when you run? Consider an extra dose of nature by incorporating trail running into your routines. Herefore, take a look at trail running tips.

If you're new to running, or if you have a regular routine but have never been competitive, signing up for a race can motivate and challenge you. Preparing for a race can help you setting other running goals for beginners, like increasing speed or distance, into focus. Time will tell when we'll have a proper in-person races again, but for now, virtual races are a good stand-in. It's important to know that a race isn't something you should take lightly, even if it's virtual. Our beginners 5K and 10K training guides can help you prepare.

Illustration of girl running toward a 5K and 10K sign

Variety can keep your runs from feeling like a chore. Mix up your distance, speeds, and routes to help you stay motivated. Make a plan to hop in the car and drive yourself to a new route. A change of scenery will do the body and mind some good every now and then.

Resolution 2: Make realistic running goals together

Running can often feel like an individual sport, but it doesn’t have to be. Many people find solace in their daily runs, but if hitting a goal is a priority, you’ll find it’s much easier to do with the support of others. Enlist a running buddy to help you stay accountable or find a running club to join. Either way, you’ll find support that will keep you focused on the running goals you have set. Ask your community for daily or weekly reminders to keep you on pace.

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Technology is a fantastic tool for building run community. Strava, an app for runners and cyclists, uses GPS data to track and analyse exercise. You can share your workouts and connect with runners. Instagram and Facebook are great for documenting your progress and finding others with similar goals. Use these platforms to keep yourself accountable and to learn from your running community. 

Resolution 3: Treat yourself after accomplishing a running goal

Running is hard, but it shouldn’t be all work and no play. One way to stay motivated during training is to give yourself rewards along the way. Did you finish your first long run of the year? Treat yourself to a massage, or mark the occasion with your favourite meal. Complete a training plan? Get yourself some new gear that will help you meet your next goal. Adding rewards to your goal planning can help you overcome burnout and keep you focused on end results.

Illustration of girl eating pizza with a box of Brooks shoes

Most of all, be patient with running goals

The start of a new year is exciting, but sometimes motivation can be hard to find. How do you keep motivated when things get difficult? Be patient with yourself and be flexible. You're going to be sore. You're going to be tired. And that's okay. You have 365 days in a year — just do your best to make the most of them and remember: the rewards of running outweigh the struggles.

For more information about running, check out our stories about healthy relationships with food and mental strength