When it comes to starting a new running regime, setting goals is one of the most effective ways to stay motivated and chart progress. If it’s done properly, that is.
Building your strength and fitness to the point when you can complete a 10k run or marathon does not simply occur overnight, but focusing on that goal when you first start can seem almost insurmountable – just the sort of thing that can set you up for failure.
A report by Runner’s World found that more than 75% of runners only set very broad, general goals when it comes to stepping up their regime, as well as having very little idea of why these goals are important to them.
Alex Reid, a Strength and Conditioning Specialist Consultant for Wimbledon Clinics, gives us some top tips on how to set running goals with the greatest chance of achieving them:
Goals are individual to you. When Alex sees a new client, she collects detailed information regarding their training history and any injuries they might have sustained in the past, enabling her to tailor a programme specifically to their needs. Setting yourself the same goals as someone who is in a different situation to you or has a different level of fitness is not the best idea; what is achievable for them, may not be achievable for you – and vice versa.
As Alex gets to know her clients’ training history and goals for the future, it also forms the foundations of a trusting relationship – this rapport is paramount to good communication and stands the client in good stead to meet their goals.
Keep goals achievable. Adhere to the philosophy of attainable goals – don’t set yourself up to fail. It is human nature that as you start to become successful at something and feel good about it, you want to continue and work harder. In this way you can build momentum and keep yourself motivated. Setting a goal that’s too large or too vague can lead you to feel disheartened and ultimately give up. So, instead of setting yourself a goal of running a marathon or running for an hour three times per week straight away, choose smaller goals, such as going for a 20-minute run twice a week or doing 10 minutes of exercise every other day and gradually challenge yourself further as you attain your targets. Small, specific and measurable goals are an important part of the running programmes at Wimbledon Clinics. These programmes are wholly flexible too, so the goal posts can change depending on your progress.
Making time is the biggest challenge. We live in a fast-paced world, filled with responsibilities and commitments, but in order to succeed at any exercise programme, it needs to become a priority. Alex says that making time for exercise is one of the biggest challenges seen by the professionals who lead the running programmes at Wimbledon Clinics. It takes discipline and motivation to make time in a busy schedule for exercise, but without doing so, you simply won’t achieve the results you’re hoping for. Even with the best running programme in the world designed for you, if you don’t make the time for it, you won’t be able to complete it. Be realistic about what you can achieve but be sure to make exercise a priority in your schedule.
Goals have a time element. Setting a deadline of some kind can be highly motivating. Some people like to step up their fitness regime when they have a holiday on the horizon or a wedding coming up, others might have a marathon they are determined to be fit for. Alex often encourages her clients to enter themselves into a race; this commitment can really be the driver needed to reach a goal – just be sure to set yourself smaller, achievable targets that gradually lead you to your final deadline.
Create a support network. Let your family and friends know your goals so that they can support you to achieve them. Sometimes having a running or strength training partner can give you the push you need to stay on track – when one of you isn’t feeling motivated, the other can offer words of encouragement to give you a boost. Another incentive can be to stick your running regime or motivational words on your fridge – this visual feedback can really make a difference to your motivational levels.
The bottom line is that the individual needs to be self-driven – to be intrinsically motivated to be successful – and with a supportive network of family, friends and a physical trainer, your goals can be achieved. Alex says that her goal as a trainer is to make exercise become habitual for the client – to become a natural part of their life and routine.
If that sounds like something you need and you’ve been toying with the idea of getting back into running, or perhaps you are starting from scratch, contact Wimbledon Clinics. Our highly experienced specialists can come up with a tailored solution to help you achieve all your running goals – one step at a time.