SMART Running Goals in #2020

As I browsed Instagram and read blog entries over the past two weeks, I was so inspired by the goals that other runners have set. From running their first timed race to finishing an ultra, it’s been refreshing to see so many big goals and ideas in line for 2020!

I’m right there with you — 2020 is the year of goals. This year, my plan is to set SMART goals. Let’s be real; there’s a difference between “run a faster marathon” and a calculated, measured, realistic goal that will get you there, right?

Right! So, what are SMART goals? They are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. I love using the SMART formula for running because it keeps me challenged yet realistic. In 2016, I ran the Akron Marathon with the goal of a sub 2. I had no business attempting that or thinking I could do it because I didn’t train for it. I just “set a goal” and thought maybe it would fall into place. Incorrect.

Since then, I’ve made it a point to set running goals I can realistically achieve with very hard work. There’s a difference between goals that challenge us and goals that we pretty much know we can’t reach within the time frame we’d like (i.e., you can qualify for Boston, but if you’re a 5:00 marathoner, don’t expect to do it in four months).

So, here we go: My big goal for 2020 is to run a 5:30 marathon which means I’ll have shaved over 15 minutes off of my current PR of 5:46:45 at last year’s DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. Using the SMART method, here’s how I plan to achieve it:

SPECIFIC: I want to beat my marathon time and end the race at 5:30. This is a pace of 12:35 per mile.

MEASURABLE: I will use to data from my watch, as well as the VDOT app which I use to train myself and my athletes, to measure the correct pace and ensure my HR is correct for different types of workouts (easy runs, threshold, strides, etc.). I will run the data monthly to make sure I am on track and able to continue training for this pace.

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ATTAINABLE: I believe a 5:30 is attainable based on what I did right and wrong during last year’s training and marathon race. Last year, my goal of a 4:45 was completely unrealistic given the rocky training season. I showed up in my corral and took off with the 4:45 pacer only to fall behind within a few miles because I knew I couldn’t continue the pace for the marathon duration. I walked the last six miles of the race, but I still came in at 5:46 and change. Training better this season through more carefully calculated speed training and HR monitoring, as well as a more realistic goal, will help me shave the time off. Over 15 minutes of time is a bit of a chunk, but I think it’s doable.

RELEVANT: In years past, I’ve set several goals that I thought were “relevant:” Run a faster 5k, finish a marathon in 4:45, beat my 10k PR — all in the same dang training season. It doesn’t work like that. I have decided that the marathon is my only focus for the first half of the year. This race is the most relevant to me right now. This means I will complete other races during training, but that I will not focus on PRs or beating my time in any other distance but the marathon. Training for a marathon PR and 5k PR are two different types of training. It’s unlikely that one can train for both at the same time, so I chose the marathon as my focus and as the most relevant race.

TIMELY: The DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon is the first weekend in May. This gives me plenty of time to train; approximately 16 weeks (with the taper) to train properly. I have also worked in a lot of recovery weeks so that I can properly regain strength OR not have to panic if I miss a week due to sickness, etc. I will achieve my 5:30 goal on May 3, 2020!

So, there you have it — my SMART goal for 2020. I would love to hear about yours! Download and print my FREE, custom-designed SMART running goals worksheet to help you set SMART running goals in 2020. Cheers!



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Default photo credit: Sasin Tipchai

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