3 Ways to Give Your Running Goals a Jumpstart

running goals

This post originally appeared on Marathon Training Academy

You’ve reached the halfway mark in your training. The excitement of starting a new goal is wearing off and is being replaced by the anticipation of your upcoming event. The finish line isn’t in view yet, but you know it’s just around the corner. What could go wrong?

The problem is that a lot of time passes during a typical training period. Within the weeks or months between signing up for an event and actually completing it, any number of things could happen. You may accept a new job and an entire new work schedule. You may move to a new city, pick up a new hobby, or adopt a puppy. You may gain weight, lost weight, become faster, become slower, more motivated, less motivated, or any number of the numerous things that can happen as time passes and our lives change. If your life is constantly changing, it follows that your goals need to as well. Halfway to the completion your running goal, take a moment to consider whether your goals are still optimized for your success. Here are three tips to help you in your halfway check-in.

1) Reconnect with your "Why"

Running goals are shaped around “whys.” We want to run faster, run farther, or run stronger. We want to improve health, build confidence, or simply have a good time. Every goal comes with an inherent purpose. The problem is that we determine our “whys” when we set our hearts on a goal, prior to the beginning of our training. While this provides an initial jolt of motivation, it is linked to a vision of what future training will look like, and not with the reality.

running goals

Halfway through your training, you have knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in your training plan. Maybe those 4am runs prior to work weren’t realistic; or your dreams to complete your long runs on Sundays didn’t come true. Given what you know now, you are better able to craft a “why” around the realities of your training capabilities and desires. While you may have had a “why” surrounding around getting faster, you may shift your “why” to focus on enjoying the event and training experience. On the other hand, if your training is going better than expected, you may be able to re-evaluate your time goals and shape your “why” around a desire for better performance in your event.

2) Start Looking Ahead to your Next Goal 

This may seem pre-mature, but beginning to plan for your next running goal well before you finish your current one will help you deter the post-race slump that can come with completing an event. We all know the feeling of completing a goal and asking ourselves, “what next?” The problem with running is that this question can push us to start training again too soon and make impulsive decisions about future events. The runner’s high after crossing the finish line, in combination with a feeling of wanderlust of not having a new goal to focus on, can inspire us to make decisions that aren’t good for our bodies. “Yeah, that race felt great! I bet I could do an ultra next week!”

Halfway to the completion of your current goal, take some time to consider what you will do after. How much recovery time will you need? What type of event makes the most sense given your lifestyle and desires? What types of running goals will make you happy? Plan ahead now when you aren’t caught up in the excitement of completing a race. Take stock of how you feel about your current running routine and goals, and use that as a barometer when planning ahead. Note any changes you’d make moving forward with a new goal and training routine.

3) Re-Evaluate your Training Plan

Training plans are great in that they give us roadmaps to follow as we pursue our running goals. The problem is that they don’t change as we do. A training plan that worked for you two months ago, may need adjustments as you progress. This usually doesn’t mean throwing out your plan mid-way through your training and adopting a new one. It does mean being mindful of which aspects of it are serving you and which aren’t. Have you noticed you’re exhausted at the end of every week? Is there a certain training run you dread whenever it pops up on the schedule? What’s been too challenging, or too easy?

running goals

With training time already under your belt, be keen to the small tweaks that will optimize your training plan to help you reach success with your running goal. There’s nothing wrong with adapting a plan to better suit your needs, as long as these changes are based on informed knowledge of what would be best for your goals and health. Halfway to your goal is the perfect time to do this, as you’ve accumulated enough knowledge of what works for you, yet you have enough training time left to see the results of these changes play out.

The halfway point in a running goal is a crucial time for reflecting on progress thus far, as well as future plans. Don’t let this slip by you, as the adjustments you make to your training plan or goals can have ramifications for your success. As runners, we know that much of our lives don’t happen at the start or finish, but in all of the miles in between. Take the time to appreciate the small changes that come halfway through a goal that allow us to see running, not just as a one-time victorious event, but as a lifestyle.

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