Do You Have Too Many Goals? (New Video)

Why are you running?

It’s a simple question. But sometimes we have no idea how to answer it.

too many goals

Every runner has different goals:

  • Train for a 5k
  • qualify for Boston
  • lose weight
  • run your first marathon
  • be more consistent with fewer injuries

And no matter why you’re running, you’re a runner. Anybody who says differently is just wrong.

In a fantastic article by Olympian Andrew Lemoncello, he confronts the question are you a real runner? His answer:

It doesn’t matter if you run four-minute miles or 15-minute miles. It doesn’t matter if you walk/jog to get your dose of exercise in. You can confidently call yourself a runner.

Running goals are all different – and they’re all important.

The real question is do you have too many?

Don’t Spread Yourself too Thin!

Running is so rewarding for me because it’s objective: numbers don’t lie. You can measure distance, pace, step rate, overall time, split progressions, heart rate, and a host of other metrics.

Yes, I am a geek.

If you’re smart, you can improve some of these metrics. That’s what running faster and being able to run longer is all about.

But what happens when you try to accomplish too much?

Recently Simon emailed me with a great question:

I do a lot of exercising, seriously lifting 3 times a week, Muay Thai 3-5 times a week and I’m getting ready to add a weekly ruck march. I’ve always just tagged on 2-3 runs a week where I could fit them in – 2-6 miles with no real plan.

My question is, can I make smart progress on 2 or 3 runs a week?

I recorded a new video in the studio (ok, my living room) and answered Simon’s question.

Remember these three principles when you’re trying to make progress as a runner:

  • Determine goal #1 – and then train for that specifically
  • More than two goals (especially if they’re at odds like distance running and lifting) is counter-productive
  • Forward progress is difficult on just 2-3 runs a week – try to run at least 4 times a week for any running goal

As a runner you can have several goals at once but it’s helpful to have a Priority Goal with the other goals as sub-goals.

Here’s an example: my goal is to run a marathon PR in 2014. To do that, I have several other goals like run 1-2 personal bests in shorter distances this fall, set a monthly and annual mileage best in the process, and have the best marathon cycle possible next year.

Every aspect of training is connected. Approach each systematically and you’ll run a helluva lot faster. –> Click here to tweet that!

My Question for You

What is your #1 running goal?

And what sub-goals are you using to help you accomplish that goal?

Leave your response in the comments and I’ll reply with my ideas on your training.

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  1. Antoinette Marmora says:

    I’ve had several goals since I started running 8 years ago and I’m happy to say most of them I’ve met. I ran a 7 minute pace at a 5k, I’ve run 2 marathons, I’m in for the NYC marathon this fall and I qualified for Boston and am waiting to see if I have been accepted for 2014. Each of these goals was a #1 goal at some point. Today I have a new #1 goal and it’s not a PR NYC or Boston; my goal is to be injury free while still enjoying my running and challenging myself.

    After a knee injury that lasted several months and resulted in visits to the orthopaedic doctor, a chiropractor, a sports doctor, a PT and orthodics, I’m happy to say I did my first 20 miler last week although not pain-less (lol). Now I work hard to strength train and stretch to support my running and hope to keep running as long as I can and run injury free.

  2. Long term goal (2yrs) is to qualify for Boston. My sub goals have been to achieve certain race times in various other distances, increase weekly mileage, and knock off time with each marathon. I also focus on improving strength and form. My nutrition has undergone significant change as well.

  3. Amanda Wobbema says:

    I see my goals as a funnel or a web, or something. Dependent but not all come crashing down if I miss a day or week.

    My first priority is to be a runner. After that, it’s to complete x miles in y timeframe (think 1,000 per year for example) supplementing that is a frequency per month, then meeting my training plan weekly, and finally, that day. Sometimes that day is to start and finish a race, do all my mobility etc. obviously, the ones I don’t meet tend to be the itty bitty micro ones. They don’t ruin the macro goals of being a runner, yet those goals are dependent on consistency and dedication.

    I feel like if I hadn’t had my annual mileage goal after a 3 week sickness set me back to starting over, and I hadn’t felt that I was indeed a runner, I may have cut back or become inconsistent. This illness was at the beginning of a training plan for my year’s goal race. The reason I signed up for races. And I lost all my fitness. Being a beginner, I knew I couldn’t meet the goals I’d set out to meet over the year, but I had all these other goals I could still be on track for. Having “sub” goals means I will still be running to my potential for this cycle rather than throwing up my hands.

    This approach has worked so very well for me.

    If you’re still reading, thanks & sorry!

  4. My number 1 goal with running is just to lose weight/maintain weight. I would not say I am a great runner, but I do find it to be a great workout. I do agree it is great to have all these measures with running that you can improve on. My sub-goal would be to just run 5k (I said I wasn’t a great runner 🙂

  5. My number one goal for 2014 is to run my first marathon in less than 4 hours. I have a PR of 1:55 for my first half marathon last year on a very hilly course, but this year made a 2:09 on the same course due to inconsistency. My sub-goals are to #1 – drop weight to 160lbs and make a half PR of 1:45 before 2014. I don’t think I can make the 160 seeing as how I am currently at 195, but I would like to try anyhow.

  6. my no. 1 goal right now is to make sure that i stay fit and improve my health. most of the time when i do cardio, i have a hard time breathing and keeping up. when i do decide to try running, I need to improve my breathing first.