Day 57: Setting Goals

Fitzhugh Dodson said, “Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

Within the last year I have discovered that part of being a runner is setting goals. Whether a serious runner or just starting out, using benchmarks to measure success can provide much motivation and a sense of accomplishment. By setting clear defined goals, I can measure and appreciate the achievement in those goals, plus I can see forward progress in what might have before have seemed a long pointless grind.

It has been nearly four weeks since I completed my first marathon. I have had much time to examine my training, performance, and mistakes. Thoughts of my performance has hovered over me like a storm cloud for quite some time. Now entering a new season, I felt like it was time to set some more goals for myself. I grabbed a pen and paper and started writing a new goal for the remainder of 2012. Train for my second marathon.

My first marathon taught me so much about my body, my mind and my training. I have gained so much knowledge and am excited to be training again. For my upcoming training cycle, I am adding some activities that I feel will better prepare myself for the next one. Please know, I am not an expert. This plan is based on my experiences and what I feel will work best for me. This plan includes:

  •  3+ 20-Mile runs
  • Cross Training
  • Better Nutrition
  • Strength Training
  • Quality-Over-Quantity

If you are beginning to set some goals for yourself, here are some tips I discovered that can assist in reaching your running potential:

  1. Be Specific- You want to be able to reach these goals or there will be much more work to do.  It is also important to set clear deadlines for each benchmark to give yourself some sense of immediacy that will, in turn, give you the motivation you need to head out the door each day. (i.e. I will run a 5K without walking; On average, I will run 10 miles more per week by the end of this year.)
  2. Set Multiple Goals- No matter how much you have prepared, certain circumstances that are out of your control (weather, sickness) during training or a race. If you just set a single goal, you might be disappointed (like me in my first marathon). It is good to set A, B, and C goals while preparing for the big race.
  3. Readjust Goals as You Improve – As you get better, you are simply getting closer to your ultimate potential and will see less dramatic shifts in your performance. Adjust your perception of success and goals according to your new fitness level.
  4. Set Goals Based on You – (I have been guilty of this in my previous training). Sometimes we get caught in the trap of setting goals that are based on how others do, rather than their personal performance. Don’t set goals that depend on others not making theirs.
  5. Stay Accountable – We all have different ways of staying accountable: journalling, sharing our goals with others, etc. Find what works for you.
  6. Get Excited – goals are meant to be positive measures of success. If they begin to drag you down or become a frustration, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. With a little bit of thought, some planning, and much hard work, you will be checking off those goals!

By setting goals for ourselves, we are putting something into action. We are providing ourselves with a map and, hopefully, depending God to guide us in the right direction. It’s not saying, “Oh, I wish I could.” Instead, it’s declaring what we want to do for the Lord, it’s a declaration of faith.

I am really excited about establishing this new goal in my life and look forward to training next month. I know at times I will need encouragement and that’s when I look to the words of Paul in Philippians 3:14 which say, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul set a goal. He pressed forward in search for his goal, he pressed toward the mark of the high calling. He had a clear direction of where he was going and he was focused on the Lord. Most importantly, he succeeded. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Let’s make our lives interesting. Join me in setting a goal. Let’s make a clear declaration of faith, saying, “This is what I am going to do for the Lord and then press forward!” I can’t wait to see where the Lord will take us.

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