Every year thousands of people make New Year’s resolutions to “get faster,” “become healthier” or “lose some pounds."

By now, many of these people have lost momentum and many more struggle to know if they have made any progress. Often, this struggle stems from the fact that these people started out with an idea, and not a clearly defined performance goal. Here’s how to upgrade your resolution into a SMART Goal!

S – Create a Specific performance goal. Rather than making a vague goal to “improve my 5k time” or “run a marathon”, make your goal as specific as possible. Instead, try “I will run a 5k in 29:30 by Labor Day weekend,” or better yet, “I will run the NYC Marathon on Sunday, November 6th in a time of 3 hours and 54 minutes."

M – Make your goal “Me” focused. In other words, make your goal as individual as possible, so that you have as much control over it as possible. While training buddies can be great company, if your partner decides to give up, you want to be self-motivated enough to continue on and achieve your goal. Also, unless you are an elite athlete, setting a goal to win an event can be a trap as you don’t know what your competition can do. Instead, set a goal for a Personal Record or benchmark.

A – Make your goal Achievable. You want your goals to be challenging enough that they take some effort to achieve, but are not unrealistic. If you are aiming for your first marathon and currently running at 10 minutes per mile, then perhaps a goal to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time is too ambitious for this season. Also, you need to set a goal that you have time to train for, so that the goal is achievable within the context of your life as a whole.

R – Your goal must be Reviewed Regularly. Print your SMART Goal and post it somewhere you will see it often! Set a reminder to check in with your goal progress on a regular basis. Be thorough in your review. Are you progressing as planned? Do you need to make any changes?

T – Timeframes for performance goals are one of the key elements of success. However, don’t be fooled into simply setting the event date. While the NYC Marathon may be on Sunday, November 6th, there are many interim dates for preparation – registration, base training, commencement of the marathon-specific training program, etc. Setting targets for interim activities will help you maintain your goal focus. Talk to your running coach about appropriate time frames.


Coach Stuart Munro

Coach Munro is a lifestyle-athlete and a running coach based in Brisbane, Australia. He is certified by the Athletics Australia as a Level 3 Middle and Long Distance Running Coach.

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