Smart Goal Setting Tip For Runners

runningIt was the Shark Tank’s own, Daymond John, who had a smart goal setting tip that came to mind when starting this article.

He states,

Goal setting is like a motto, a hook, or a phrase thats always on your mind, just like a jingle you’d remember from a commercial. The things you do, say, or hear in your everyday life will subconsciously trigger you to act out your goals and move closer to the desired target. A lot of work and thought processes go into goal setting, but once you get the hang of it, it will come to your naturally.

We all have received a smart goal setting tip that has changed our lives for the better sometime in our life.

It could have been completely unrelated to distance running or fitness altogether.

It could be a reminder of a past failure to help motivate us or the kind word of a friend that helped us in our time of need.

For me, it was having to rearrange the way I trained so that I could fulfill one of my short-term goals which was to break the 2.22.00 marathon barrier.

I could see myself crossing the finish line in 2.21.59 but I was still a 2.43.36 marathoner at the time.

Sometimes our goals seem unattainable but I can tell you from experience that even the most impossible goals can still be achieved.

The SMART Method

The was an author by the name of George T. Doran who in 1981 which he called the SMART Method.

The SMART Method is comprised of five key areas that goals are to be pursued.

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely

Let’s apply these to our running.


This is the who, what, where, when and why of how we are going to create an actionable plan of attack to reach out fitness goals.

We have to be as specific as possible when it comes down to do what we want in this sport. I will run today is not going to cut it.

This is how it should look.

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I will run this specific goal on this particular date and in this specific time.

Write down a no later then date to hold yourself accountable.


We have to also make goals challenging but also measurable. If an athlete is a 4 hour marathoner are we going to expect him or her to run a 2.12 marathon in two months?

I hesitate to say this is unrealistic because I personally don’t like the word but that would not be a measurable goal.

If you have run a 4.15 marathon and want to get to 4.05 by the end of this year, that is measurable. It is not overly ambitious but can be measured.

It is a short-term goal. A long term goal could be to run a 3.50 marathon by a specific date.

This is a great way to track your progress in real time and help motivate you in knowing you are on the right path for success.

Is The Goal Attainable?

This is a tough one to swallow because as a believer in Christ I think of a quote of His in the Holy Scriptures when he said,

What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” “All things are possible to them who believe – Mark 9:23

I wish on a daily basis I could hear His voice as I can hear yours or others.

I am sure He would probably get tired of hearing all of my questions on life and philosophy but that is a powerful quote from a very powerful figure.

You may not believe in God but think of the birth of a child or the vastness of the universe and you will still have to imagine that these areas are incredible and how they fall into being is impressive.

I think His observation is about as genuine and legit as it gets and I cannot say that a 5 hour marathoner cannot become a 2.30 marathoner.

It may take 20 years to achieve that goal. It all depends on the level of commitment of the athlete.

We already use such a small percentage of our brain capacity it is hard to tell what is possible and what is not.

Are there impossibilities?

How do we know?

What if we used 100% of our brain capacity?

Are the impossible goals we have entertained in our minds still impossible then?

You may have an easy goal in mind or one that is absolutely ridiculous. A goal so crazy your friends or family may laugh at you for bringing it up.

These are my favorite kind of goals and they don’t have to be running related but while we’re on the topic let’s discuss.

Personally for me, at this point in my career I would think a sub 2 hour marathon would be asking too much out of myself as a 2.19 athlete.

4.35 pace for 26.2 miles is an extremely aggressive pace for such a long distance.

Will it ever be done?

Hard to say but as technology advances and we have better facilities and time to train it could very well be done one day.

There was a time they said the 4 minute mile was impossible and now mankind has put two of them back to back.

Yes, the world record for the two mile is 7.58.61 by Daniel Komen of Kenya.

Keep in mind if you are a 24 minute 5K runner it may be unlikely you will be a 15 minute athlete by next week.

That being said, in five years that goal could very well be a reality.

We have to ensure our goals are not so outrageous that our lives will be ruined if we don’t attain them in record time.

I dreamt of breaking 2.22.00 for the marathon back in 1997 while I was still in college and didn’t do it until 10 years later.

10 years is a long time to wait and you had better damn sure have a love for what you are doing if you really want to see your goals met.

They don’t always work on our timeline. Sometimes they come quick, other times it takes decades to achieve.

Be patient!

Are They Relevant?

Your running goals have to be relevant to what you want as an athlete.

Are they setting you up for success and are the short term goals you have set build on to the long term aspirations you have.

Does seeing others achieve what you dream about make you envious or want to quit? If they do then you may need some time away from the sport.

Never let a setback get the best of you. If your patience is running thin then take a break from the sport.

We all need to get away from the activity from time to time so we can be focused on the next goal.

How Timely Are Our Goals?

Goals can usually be accomplished if we give them a reasonable time to be achieved.

I would like to break the 2.18.00 marathon barrier by 25 May of this year and no later then that date.

That is my own goal I have set and I realize the extremity of the goal. It is a 5.16 per mile average and one that will take aggressive training to achieve.

My daily training has to mirror up with that no later date. This means commitment on my part. The same holds true for you.

No one is going to hold us by the hand and gently wiser in our ear that we are the best and can do it while we sit on the sofa eating potato chips watching the Simpsons.

I can tell you I didn’t run 2.19 by partying with the boys on the weekends.

Don’t allow yourself to waiver from the date.

Hold yourself accountable and remind yourself when you don’t want to run or workout that that objective must be met to attain the goal sought after.

A time frame will push you toward the end goal and help hold you accountable when no one is around or cares about what you are doing.

I work on this site constantly nearly every morning until around 2am. No one sees that. I could have given up on my business goals back in 2011 when I started but it is something I believe in.

I get a lot out of hearing from someone who says that my training philosophy has changed their life.

Earlier this afternoon I received word from a woman I coach who told me she barely broke 2 hours last year for the half marathon and ran a huge personal best today of 1.52 and without even going all out.

The lost sleep and choosing to spend my time researching, reading and spending untold amounts of time trying to better RDA is well worth that email alone.

It is more blessed to give then it is to receive – Christ

There has to be an incredible level of commitment to what you want to achieve and few will understand that but your family and close friends who understand the time constraints.

You have to believe in what you do and your goals. You have to want them as badly as you want and need your next breath and you have to expect that some won’t come easy.

Write down some of your short and long term goals now and start to assess them using the SMART method.

I can assure you that it will organize your game plan, set you up for success and get you fired up about your fitness in 2022.

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