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Pick A Running Goal— And Stick With It!

What running goals should you aim for? Just follow the arrows to find out!

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Whether you’re a well-seasoned marathoner or a total newbie, (welcome!), chances are you’ve got some dreams. Mario Fraioli, senior editor of Competitor magazine and author of The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide to Marathon & Half-Marathon Training recommends turning those visions into action by setting flexible goals.

“Goals are a good way to hold yourself accountable and to stay motivated,” says Fraioli. But choosing a smart objective isn’t easy: “Many runners tend to only think of the end result and base their success or failure on whether or not they achieved their desired outcome. It’s a very black and white way to look at things.” With that in mind, kick the year off with a big dream and a healthy outlook with our little guide to goals.

Take a look this FLOW CHART to help pick a goal. Then follow the color coded answers to find out how to keep your goal all year!

GOAL: Ease Into It
As cliché as it sounds, slow and steady really works. Injury and burnout happen when runners get overwhelmed by massive dreams. Fraioli says it’s fine to keep long-term objectives in mind, but focus on short-term benchmarks. In other words, start by training for March’s 5K, not October’s marathon. After you achieve one goal, evaluate and adjust as needed before moving on to the next.

Try This:
Long-term goal: Finish your first marathon in October 2015.
Benchmarks: Research and pick a training plan in January; race a 5K in March, 10K in May and half marathon in August.

Related: Training Plan for your First Marathon

GOAL: Socialize
Not every goal has to be tied to a finish line. Some runners are all about the journey, and that’s a pretty cool thing. This year, share the joy by making new friends while getting in miles.

Try This:

  • Participate in the weekly workout at your local running store at least two times per month.
  • Recruit two friends or family members to run their first 5K with you.
  • Organize a weekend of racing and wine tasting in Napa Valley with the girls.
  • Volunteer to lead the 2:30 pace group at a local half marathon.

Related: WR Running Playlist

GOAL: Be Consistent
“Great running happens when runners do the right thing day after day, week after week, month after month,” says Fraioli, who encourages athletes to aim to be consistent about small practices that will pay off with big outcomes.

Try This:

  • Eat every 30 minutes during your long run.
  • Perform three sets of form drills after every run.
  • Do 15 minutes of core work before breakfast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Foam roll for 15 minutes while watching TV every evening.
  • Go to bed by 10:30 four nights out of the week.

Related: 5 Quick and Easy Running Drills

GOAL: Be a PR Queen
Go for it, girl! Whether you’re hoping to PR or podium, you’ve got everything you need to set your bar high. However, rather than working toward one hard and fast (pun intended) goal, Fraioli suggests establishing a range of aspirations to alleviate the pressure of an “all-or-nothing” outcome.

Try This:
Good day: Finish a half marathon under 2 hours with a smile on your face.
Great day: Finish under 1:45 with a strong last 10K.
Perfect day: Negative split, hit a personal best and place top 5 in your age group.