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How to set effective & realistic running goals for 2024.

Got Running GOALS?

Are you ready to take your running to the next level in 2024? Whether you're a seasoned marathoner or just starting your running journey, effective planning and goal setting are the keys to success. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the process of planning your training year and setting realistic, achievable goals for your upcoming race.

Step 1: Define your Northstar

Your "northstar" in your running goal is essentially your ultimate and guiding objective. It represents the overarching, long-term aspiration that motivates and directs your running journey. It's the destination you're striving to reach, even if it's challenging or distant.

For example, your running northstar might be:

  • Completing a full marathon.

  • Achieving a specific personal record (PR) time in a particular race distance.

  • Qualifying for a prestigious race like the Boston Marathon.

  • Running a certain number of miles or kilometers within a year.

  • Transforming your overall health and fitness through running.

Your northstar serves as a constant reminder of what you're working towards and helps you stay focused, motivated, and committed to your running goals. It's the beacon that guides you on your running journey, even when you encounter obstacles or setbacks.

Whether it's a 5K, half marathon, or full marathon, pick events that give you enough time to prepare and fit your goals. Check out up coming local races here.

Step 2: Reflect on Your Past Achievements

Before diving into the future, it's essential to look back on your running accomplishments.

What races have you completed?

What did you learn from each race?

What were your strengths and weaknesses?

What have you failed at?

What have you learned?

Reflecting on your past performance can provide valuable insights into what you need to work on and where you can improve.

Step 3: Define Your Running Goals

Setting clear and specific goals is crucial for a successful training year. Your goals should answer the question of:

Where do I want to end up?

Instead of vague objectives like "I want to run faster," consider setting goals like "I want to achieve a new personal best in the half marathon by reducing my time by 5 minutes, while feeling good for at least half the race."

Change your goal from "Sub 2 hour half marathon" to "Run a 9:05 pace for a half marathon." Not nearly as sexy, but much more helpful during both the actual race and training.

Step 4: Create/follow a Periodized Training Plan

Periodization is the systematic planning of training to optimize your performance. It involves breaking your training year into distinct phases, each with a specific focus.

The typical phases include:

Step 5: Apply Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the gradual increase in the intensity, volume, or duration of your training sessions. It's essential for continual improvement. As you progress through each phase of periodization, gradually increase the workload to challenge your body and stimulate adaptation.

Step 6: Seek Professional Guidance

If you're unsure about structuring your periodized training plan and applying progressive overload, consider consulting with a running coach or an exercise physiologist like me! They can provide personalized advice and assessments to optimize your training regimen.

Step 7: Monitor Your Progress

Throughout the training year, keep track of your progress. Use tools like running apps (hello Strava!), heart rate monitors (Garmin & Coros), and regular assessments to measure your improvements (Lactate testing, Running assessment). Adjust your training plan as needed to stay on course.

Step 8: Adapt and Stay Flexible

Life can throw unexpected challenges your way. Be prepared to adapt your training plan if necessary. Flexibility is key to staying injury-free and motivated.

Step 9: Celebrate Milestones

As you work toward your goals using periodization and progressive overload, don't forget to celebrate your achievements along the way.

Completing a tough workout or hitting a new personal record deserves recognition.

By following these steps and incorporating periodization and progressive overload into your training, you'll be well on your way to planning a successful training year. Remember, consistency, dedication, and smart planning are the secret ingredients to becoming a better runner. So, lace up your shoes, hit the road or the trail, and make 2024 your best running year yet!


How to plan your training year.

How to set effective & realistic goals for your upcoming race

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