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If you’ve just accomplished a recent running goal, woohoo!  Congrats!  You’re probably overflowing with pride and enthusiasm and feeling that itch to get going on your next one. Sound about right?

But what will the next goal be?  If you’re not sure what is reasonable or achievable at your level, here’s a quick guide to help you out. 

Choosing a goal that’ll keep that fire burning and those legs moving

There are many ways to pick your next running goal.  Here’s one that I find useful.

1. Select a goal based on recent achievements.  To figure out where to go next, think about where you are now.  What have you recently accomplished and how can you take that to the next level?  Read on for examples.

2. Challenge yourself.  If you want to stay motivated, choose a goal that excites yet scares you. Choose one that will require hard work to get there and then enjoy the heck out of the process. 

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3. Make a plan.  What will it take to get to your goal? Pick a timeline and break it down into smaller steps by months, weeks, and days.  Many running goals will take anywhere from 12 weeks to a year. Give yourself ample time for proper training and adaptation and allow several weeks to develop new habits.  It may take time for the plan to stick, so make room for that.  Remember: Marathoners aren’t made overnight.

 Lastly, make it fun and enjoy the journey!

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Goals based on recent achievements

Below you’ll find some ideas for new goals based on recent achievements.  Go for goals that stretch your limits and expand your comfort zone and you’ll not only see gains in your physical condition, but your mental condition as well. 

Accomplished: Started or restarted running

Possible goals:

  • Run consistently for 3 months or more
  • Train for a 5K running event

Consistent running is key to making progress as a runner.  If you’re just starting out and not there yet, start with a goal to be consistent.  Give yourself at least three to six months to get there and work up gradually.  If you run occasionally, work on developing a habit of getting out once a week.  If you’re already a weekly runner, take it up a notch by training for a specific event.

Accomplished: Finished your first 5K event

Possible goals:

  • Run a faster 5K
  • Train for a 10K event

If you’ve just worked your way up to 5K, the distance might still feel like a challenge.  If so, set a goal to run a faster one in a two or three months time and work your way to gaining some speed.  If 5K is no longer challenging you, give yourself three or four months to work up to completing your first 10K event.

Accomplished: Finished your first 10K event

Possible goals:

  • Run a faster 10K
  • Train for a 10-mile event or half marathon

If your recent 10K felt like a breeze, why not push the distance by training for a longer event.  If 10K feels tough enough, challenge yourself to a faster one.  In one or two months time, you can get there.

Accomplished: Got a new Personal Best (PB)

Possible goals:

  • Go for a new PB
  • Train for a longer distance event

If you recently challenged your speed at a running event, take it up a notch by challenging your endurance and varying your training.  Go for a longer distance event to work on building your stamina and strength.  If speed is what you need, go for a new PB in the same — or even a different — distance.

Accomplished: Completed your second half marathon

Possible goals:

  • Go for a full marathon
  • Improve your half marathon PB by 10 minutes or more

A full marathon might sound scary when you think that you’ll be doing double the distance, but it’s well worth the effort.  You’ll receive double the rewards and the journey to the finish line is a true adventure that you’ll never forget.  If you’re just not ready for that kind of challenge but have already done a few half marathons, try shaving off a good chunk of time from your half marathon PB.  It’s hard work, but you can get there.

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Laurie

Laurie is an endurance athlete, a professional running coach & lifestyle coach, and the founder of House of Running. She helps people make running part of their healthy lifestyle through on-on-one coaching and fun group training programs. Read more about Laurie here.

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