When it comes to our weight, most women have heard, thought or used the dreaded phrase, “the last 10 pounds.” It usually refers to some arbitrary amount of weight that is keeping a woman from what she considers her ideal weight. And while some women may truly have a certain amount of weight to lose for medical or health reasons, many run because they are plagued by those “last ten pounds” that they think would finally make them happy.
Truthfully, weight loss might bring temporary gratification, but it’s a slippery slope into feeling like you need to lose just five more pounds…or one more inch off your waist…or to fit into the next size down in your jeans.
The point is, running strictly for weight loss can be a never-ending, miserable experience, and running just because you think it might make you a certain size will suck the pleasure right out of it and eventually lead you to give up altogether. So while there’s certainly no shame in using running as a tool to reach or maintain a healthy weight, there are many more goals you can set that will bring you long-term satisfaction and real happiness.
Here are 10 goals that are more fulfilling than the last 10 pounds:
Running for strength
Instead of running to become a certain size, try shifting your focus to changing your body in a different, more positive way. Running can strengthen and tone you in ways other exercise can’t (any first-time runner will tell you they felt muscles they never knew they had). Making strength your goal will expand your workouts by incorporating hills and sprints and will make you feel incredibly proud of what your body can do.
Running for the “dream” goal
Most runners probably have a secret goal they dream of reaching one day. Maybe it’s running Boston, or a 50K, or a race in every state, or even trying a triathlon. Big goals like that can seem out of reach, and it’s easy to put them aside to focus on the same old local 10K every month that you know you can accomplish. But saying your dream goal out loud and making a plan to get there will add new fuel to your work outs and bring a different level of passion to your running. And when you eventually cross that dream finish line—and you will—how many pounds you lost along the way will be the last thing on your mind.
When you first start running, you may find yourself having to alternate intervals of jogging and walking while you build up endurance. Setting the goal to run a full mile without stopping is so important for newbies; it will push you over the hump of wanting to give up early on, and the feeling of accomplishing this feat is one you’ll remember long into your running career.
Running for pure enjoyment
Sometimes running can become so engrained in our daily routines, we work out on autopilot just to check it off the to-do list. Learning to set aside one run per week to ditch whatever mileage or training plan you had scheduled for that day and just run wherever, as far or fast (or slow) as you want is a great way to center yourself and reconnect to running.
Running for charity
If you’ve run races before but never tried one benefitting a charity before, this is an all-around fantastic goal to set for yourself. Not only will you reap the physical benefits of training, you’ll help to raise money for a worthy cause you care about, which will make you feel pretty amazing on the inside, too.
Running a PR
Setting a goal to break your personal record is a fantastic way to stay motivated during training. Even more important, it will keep your mental game sharp, which can sometimes be the hardest part of running; having a specific number in your head will give you something to focus on during the more difficult workouts.
In our crazy-busy lives, it can be hard to make running a regular priority. Sometimes running happens five days a week, while other times workouts fall by the wayside and happen sporadically at best. Try committing to a month of regular running; maybe that means three miles a day Monday-Friday, or maybe you challenge yourself to running any distance you want as long as you do it every single day that month. Whatever you choose, the experiment will likely become routine and make running a permanently regular part of your life.
Running to inspire
Once people know you’re a runner, it’s likely that non-runners will sometimes ask you for tips on getting started. While you can certainly pass along some training advice, offering to go for a run with a beginner can be extremely rewarding. It’s fun to go back to the basics and reflect on how far you’ve come, and passing along your passion for running during an easy couple miles with a new runner will feel way better than doing them by yourself.
Running with a buddy
Even if you prefer to run alone, it’s worth finding a fellow runner to work out with at least once. Not only can it be a pleasant change to have someone to chat and pass the time with, but you can learn a lot from another runner—a different way to pace yourself, a new trail, or even just a great website for discount running apparel.
Running a race
It may seem obvious, but whether it’s your first or your fiftieth, having a race on your schedule is always a solid goal to have. Nothing will keep you as motivated or accountable, and there’s nothing quite like the thrill of finishing a race and knowing your weeks or months of training were totally worth it.