The Evolution of Running Goals: Why Nicole hired me (then fired me) and decided to run across the country

by Jason Fitzgerald

Running goals are funny. You might set an outlandish goal this year, but next year accomplishing the same thing is ordinary.

In 1998, I desperately wanted to run a mile under 6:00 minutes. Less than a year later, I could run three miles in a row at that pace.

Later the big running goal was breaking the 5:00 barrier, which came after a year of hard work. Flash forward to college when I ran 3,000m in 9:04 (the equivalent of a 9:45 2-mile).

That’s the power of consistency. When your running progresses gradually over time, you see incredible results. Here’s how it works:

Principle of Progression

I call consistency the “secret sauce” of good training that allow for dramatic improvements. There are no secret workouts that guarantee success. It’s the very unsexy act of hard work, week after week and year after year.

Sarah is a good example of someone who needed smarter consistency in her training. Once she finally figured it out her running completely transformed and she was a faster, healthier runner. You can read how Sarah went from injured to healthy here.

In running, people who set ambitious running goals fall into one of three categories:

  • Those who develop a smart approach and see success
  • Those who stagnate, plateau, and never move forward
  • Those who move backwards and get hurt (or worse, quit running)

I’ve long been a proponent of setting stretch goals that scare you. How else are you supposed to know what you’re capable of accomplishing?

So what exactly are stretch goals?

They’re almost out of reach – but still within the realm of possibility. With a lot of hard work, smart training, and a little luck you’ll probably accomplish them.

But for stretch goals to be accomplished, they must be approached methodically, consistently, progressively, and relentlessly.

Runners who have gone through the Strength Running Boot Camp program received two weeks of lessons exclusively about the mindset of successful runners: how to boost motivation, set good stretch goals, combine big running goals with “small wins,” and build more confidence in yourself as a runner.

It’s this mindset that allows for stretch goals to ultimately be accomplished.

The Evolution of Running Goals

Let’s examine the running goals of a hypothetical runner named Nicole. A few years ago her “impossible” goal was to complete a half marathon.

Once she managed to finish her first half marathon, she ran a few more. She got a little faster. Emboldened, she decided to run a marathon.

Then she hired a coach – and got a lot faster (with virtually no injuries).

Then she fired her coach because she set an audacious goal of running across the country.

What if I told you this hypothetical runner isn’t hypothetical at all? I coached Nicole Antoinette for 9 months and led her to breakthrough performances in the marathon and half marathon.Nicole Antoinette

Her process of goal setting, achievement, and goal evolution is why I’m excited to share a new interview with you today. We sat down for over 35 minutes and talked about our experience working together and dived into several good topics:

  • The perilous first months of being a runner – and why it matters to stick with it
  • How you can do it on your own… for awhile
  • Why she decided to hire me
  • Why she decided to fire me – don’t worry, we’re still friends :)
  • What she learned from her coaching experience that you can implement in your training
  • Her new goal: 3,000 miles from LA to NYC
  • How you can set progressively outlandish stretch goals – and accomplish them

Nicole is a powerful example of a runner who takes action and invests in their running. She knew that running was a big part of her life as soon as she started so she took steps to make it a permanent habit. It’s too easy to slide into bad habits or to always wonder what to do next.

Instead of wasting hours (or weeks) cobbling together a plan full of random workouts, she got outside help. Instead of letting injury prevention be secondary, she made it “second nature.”

To listen to the full interview, just click on the play button below.

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You can click here to listen to the interview in a new tab or right click to save it to your running playlist!

Nicole’s run across the country hasn’t started yet – but you can follow along with her training, run updates, and the highlights of her stretch goal on her site Life Less Bullshit.

She’ll also be sharing updates on Twitter.

What are YOUR running goals?

Even though my running goals are usually realistic, sometimes I push myself to set audacious goals. Whenever I have, good things have happened.

Like when I ran back to back sub-5 minute miles to run my 3,000m PR.

Or when I ran a 2:39 marathon.

Or when I convinced that cute runner on the women’s team to go out with me (hi honey, this is just a test to see if you actually read my blog).

“Impossible” is truly a mindset. As the great Walt Disney famously said:

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

For even more inspiration to accomplish your running goals, check out this list of 50 impossible quotes (in a pretty presentation!).

After listening to my conversation with Nicole, think about your own goals. Are you moving toward them? Are you stagnating?

Think hard. What can you do today to more consistently pursue your ultimate running goal? And how can I help?

If this article gave you a good kick in the pants to accomplish more with your running, please share it and spread the love!

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