As 2020 goes on and 2021 quickly approaches, it’s time to set running goals you can achieve in the New Year. No matter what level of runner you are, setting goals can be a fun and easy way to unlock your true potential. However, setting goals that are beyond your reach is unfair, and may discourage you from running altogether. Follow me as I show you how to set achievable feats to keep you on target for a healthy, and happy, new year.
Make Your Goals Achievable
We would all love to run a 2 hour 30 minute marathon, or tackle a 100-mile foot race, but these may not be “realistic” goals to reach within a 12-month period. Instead of setting the bar too high, allow yourself time to grow into the runner you wish to become. Try shaving off a few seconds from each mile, adding an extra race or two to your calendar, or putting more focus on training. These are all reasonable goals that you can accomplish over the next year. And they will keep you excited about your progress as you achieve each one of them.
Pick Your Goals
Many runners aim to increase speed, distance, and number of races for their new year’s running resolutions. And there’s nothing more rewarding than beating your personal record (PR) on a course you raced the previous year, or racing the longer version of that race (half-marathon instead of 5k, marathon instead of half-marathon).
Decide which area you want to improve, and write it down. Tape it to your bathroom mirror, set it as your computer (or smartphone) wallpaper, or use an application like RunKeeper to track it. Just make sure to keep your target in mind each day as you plug away the miles, inching yourself closer to your goal.
You may be wondering how to calculate a time-oriented goal. For starters, make a list of your previous races, and take note of your finishing times. If you are unsure of your past results, visit Athlinks and search their database using your name – they track finishing times for every runner in the country. Another useful tool is the Calculator over at Cool Running. It’s great for calculating time, distance, and pace predictions.
Next, determine the amount of time you’d like to improve on each mile. I like to think in 10-second increments. This past year I ran the New River Marathon in 3 hours 40 minutes; that’s an average pace of 8 minutes 23 seconds per mile. For 2015 I’d like to improve my marathon time, dropping 10 seconds from each mile. That would bring my finishing time down to 3 hours and 35 minutes. Still not a Boston Qualifying time, but who says I won’t exceed my goal?
Lastly, devise a plan to put your goals in motion. Schedule hill-repeats, tempo runs, and intervals. Some runners add long runs as a way to improve their overall speed. Running 10+ mile distances will build power, allowing you to put more energy into your shorter (5k) runs. If you have the funds, hire a personal trainer to help you along the way. You can even use music to improve your stride turnover rate, increasing your steps-per-minute.
Missing your Goals
I had two goals for 2020: Run a total of 1,500 miles, and complete my first marathon. Unless I can squeeze 382 miles into the next two weeks, I won’t be completing my 1,500 miles. But that’s okay. As the great Bruce Lee said, “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim for.” That’s exactly the mindset I want you to have going into the new year.
We can’t predict what injuries we may face or setbacks we’ll encounter due to family life. But we can push on and try our best to improve as much we can. Don’t get bent out of shape wondering why you missed your goal. Reassess your goals, set out a new plan of action, and get back out on the pavement. Now it’s time you set running goals you can achieve in the New Year.
Here are my 3 goals for 2021
- Run a total of 1,500 miles (taking another shot at this one)
- Complete an ultra-marathon (30+ mile race)
- Beat my previous 5K time of 19:48
What goals are you planning to achieve in the new year?
Great post Brandon! Some great tips here for setting some goals. For anybody else thinking of doing a 100 next year, I personally thing it's possible for ANYBODY, unless there are injuries preventing it, or you just truly don't have the time to train for it. Ability is not an excuse. Anybody can train for a 50 or 100 mile race if they can walk and have the time to put in.
Also great goal for 1500 miles in 2014. I saw a guys tweet the other day that said he had already exceeded his goal of 2013 miles, THIS YEAR! Wow, how is that for a running goal?
Since I'm having a new baby in May, my goal will be to run two 50K's before the little one is born, so I can focus more on family the rest of the year. Looking forward to both, though!
Always great to have you stop by, Caleb. I've been considering a 50 miler pretty seriously lately. That will be my main goal for 2014. I suppose the 1,500 miles will be easy when I start training for it, lol. Congrats on the new baby. I'm sure that you'll have your work cut out for you when he/she's born. Good luck on your 50ks, and let us know how you do. Always great to see you!
Good luck on achieving your goals Brandon! Your post inspired me to think about mine – haven't decided yet 🙂
I will add more to this later, in a rush right now but wanted to say, Holy speedy 5K!! You are one fast dude Brandon. Be back later…
That's great. I hope you'll be with us on #VegRunChat this week; we'll be talking about setting goals for the upcoming year. See you soon!
Thanks Anna, that 5k just happened to take place during the peak of my marathon training. I had distance on my side. Like I wrote above, I believe those long runs help to build power. I can use that power to blaze a 5k! 🙂
I think that's absolutely true. I seem to run faster when I'm building mileage. I don't think I will ever break 20 minutes for a 5K, so I am impressed regardless of the reason 😉
I'm Jewish so Saturday is a rest day for me so living where I do now has meant no races because the 1 or 2 around here are on Saturday's but that is changing soon with my move back to Georgia. I have already found some on Sunday and there is a Y about 5 minutes away with a saltwater pool so I'm adding doing a triathlon to my goals. My goals are a 5k, half, triathlon and the Bone Frog obstacle run, the Bone Frog is iffy because it is only up north right now so I may have to wait to do that in 2015.