With 2023 drawing to a close, many of us are now planning our 2024 calendar. This blog will help guide you to make realistic and sustainable goals.

As the calendar flips to a new year, many runners are eager to lace up their shoes and hit the road with a fresh set of goals. Setting realistic and motivating running goals can be a catalyst for personal growth and achievement. Here's my guide to help you pave the way for a successful and happy year of running.

1. Reflect on the Past: Before looking forward, take a moment to reflect on your running journey in the previous year. What milestones did you achieve? What challenges did you overcome? Understanding where you've been can provide valuable insights into where you want to go.

2. Define Your Motivation: Identify the reasons behind your desire to run. Whether it's improving fitness, conquering longer distances, or participating in races, understanding your motivation will give your goals a deeper sense of purpose.

3. Set SMART Goals: Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). Instead of a vague goal like "run more," aim for something like "complete a half marathon within six months" or "increase weekly mileage by 10% over the next eight weeks."

4. Gradual Progression: Avoid the temptation to set overly ambitious goals that could lead to burnout or injury. Gradual progression is key. If you're new to running, start with attainable goals like running consistently three times a week before moving on to more challenging objectives.

5. Diversify Your Goals: Balance your running goals to include different aspects of your running journey. This could include goals related to speed, endurance, flexibility, or cross-training. A well-rounded approach ensures a more comprehensive and enjoyable experience.

6. Break Down Big Goals: If you have a significant goal, break it down into smaller, manageable steps. For example, if your ultimate goal is to run an ultra, set intermediate goals like completing marathon and training consistently for specified durations.

7. Prioritise Recovery: Include recovery goals in your plan. This might involve scheduling rest days, incorporating stretching or yoga sessions, and ensuring adequate sleep. Prioritising recovery is crucial for preventing injuries and maintaining long-term consistency in your training.

8. Embrace Flexibility: Life is unpredictable, and so is the journey of a runner. Be adaptable and open to adjusting your goals if necessary. Whether it's adjusting your pace, altering distances, or modifying timelines, flexibility ensures that setbacks don't derail your entire plan for the year.

9. Track Your Progress: Keep a running diary or use a fitness app to track your progress. Regularly review your achievements, and celebrate milestones along the way. Tracking your journey provides motivation and helps you stay accountable to your goals. It's also a useful tool to look back on at the end of the year.

10. Join a Running Community: Consider joining a local running club or an online community. The support and camaraderie of fellow runners can provide motivation, tips, and a sense of accountability. Sharing your goals with others creates a supportive network to help you stay on track.

In conclusion, the path to a successful year of running begins with thoughtful goal setting. By reflecting on your past, defining motivation, setting goals, embracing flexibility, and prioritising recovery, you're laying the foundation for a fulfilling running journey in 2024. 

written by

Holly Stables

ASICS UK Frontrunner Community Manager from Frome, Somerset

Age group: 45-50
Club: Black Trail Runners
Coach: Alan Storey

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