The last year has been a challenge for runners like me who use races as the organizing structure for their running or as a primary running goal.
Sure, in a perfect world, all runners should be self-motivated and get out to run solely for the love of running, but I know it’s not something I’ve ever been very good at, and I’m not alone.
What Are Your Running Goals?
But the temporary cancellation of races has also created a unique opportunity.
When I consider my running goals, I’m usually only thinking about the next big thing, the next main race.
Usually, it looks like this: What marathon do I want to run in 6-10 months? I pick a race, set up my training plan and run.
I’ve never really asked myself what my longer-term running goals were. I had no idea what I wanted to accomplish… someday.
Realistic and Audacious Running Goals
Not all running goals are created equal. Some of them will be realistic. Others, audacious.
Your realistic running goals are the things you can accomplish in the next 6 months to a year. Since they are fairly short term, they need to be based on your current fitness level, current finances, and current calendar. After all, there is only so much you can accomplish in a few months.
Audacious goals, on the other hand, are the things you want to accomplish in 5 years, 10 years, or sometime, maybe, if all the stars align. Your audacious running goals don’t need to be based on your current fitness level. You can totally ignore your current finances or life obligations.
If you are a new runner, qualifying for Boston or winning your age group aren’t likely to be realistic goals.
But that same goal, for that same runner, as an audacious goal? Perfect! Audacious goals don’t need to be based in your current reality. With some experience and the right training and coaching, a BQ is totally realistic.
What Are Your Audacious Running Goals?
Sure, we can’t (currently) plan for races, and our realistic or shorter-term running goals can’t confidently involve IRL races.
But that doesn’t mean all forward looking-planning and goal setting (race-based or otherwise) is off.
One day, races will return. Our lives will return to something that vaguely resembles ‘normal.’
Now is the perfect chance to focus on your long-term goals.
Your audacious running goals.
Planning For Your Audacious Running Goals
What do you want to accomplish in your running life… someday?
Those goals won’t happen by themselves. Start planning for them today.
Consider Potential Audacious Goals
Consider what you want to accomplish someday. Picture yourself as a runner in 5-10 years. What are you doing?
- Running an ultra?
- Winning your age group at a local race?
- Running the Paris marathon?
- Running without injury?
- Running a Disney race in a fun costume with friends?
Ignore the little voice in your head that says, ‘yeah but.’ Remember, this is big picture, audacious thinking:
- “Yeah but, I can’t afford a trip to Disney.” You don’t have to pay for it today.
- “Yeah but, I can’t run that fast.” Maybe you can’t today, but who knows what you can or can’t do 5 years from now.
- “Yeah but, I can’t train for a marathon with young kids at home.” Maybe you can’t today, but will your calendar look the same in 10 years?
Set Your Goal
Based on your brainstorm, set your goal.
Remember, these are audacious goals, so don’t try to fit them into the SMART (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time based) goal framework.
With audacious goals, set your goal in whatever way is meaningful and important to you. Ignore that the goal might be unrealistic or (seemingly) unattainable today.
Sure, some running goals will be specific or time based (finish a marathon before I turn 50), but many aren’t.
My long-term running goal is to be a healthy runner for as long as I want to run. It isn’t at all specific. It isn’t at all time bound. But when I close my eyes and picture my future running life, I see myself plodding away at it forever.
Consider the Components of Your Goal
Consider your goal and work backwards.
What has to happen to make your audacious goal a reality?
This may take some consideration. Don’t just consider the obvious to dos. For a goal like ‘run a marathon’, picking a race and picking a training plan are the obvious to dos, but that isn’t everything that has to happen to make it to the finish line.
You also need to:
- Develop a fueling and hydration plan
- Get the right gear
- Work on strength and mobility
- Do prehab to minimize injury
- Work on your mindset and mental strength
- Consider logistics (registration, travel plans, hotel)
- Save the money (especially for racecations)
What Can You Work on Today?
When you’ve considered all the components of your audacious running goal, consider where you are today and where you want to go.
How can you get from here to there?
What can you start working on today?
What is the first intermediate goal you can use to move you closer to your audacious goal?
- If your audacious goal is to run an ultra (someday), you wouldn’t necessarily start building up your mileage years in advance. You can, however, start working on your mindset, recovery, and nutrition today.
- While running the Paris Marathon years from now isn’t something you’d develop a training plan for today, you can open a savings account and set aside spare change to fund your eventual Parisian adventure. While you wouldn’t make hotel reservations today, you can create a Paris themed Pinterest board.
- If your audacious goal is to someday run a 5k with an average pace of 8 minute miles (when your current average pace is 11 minutes), set a shorter term goal to run 10:45, and create a training plan to accomplish the first of your intermediate goals.
This is the time to dream big, really big, and take the first steps to making those really big dreams a reality.