Running Camp Notes: Goal Setting

Over the course of your running career, you will look to reach and eventually achieve all sorts of benchmarks. These might come in the form of placing as an individual or team, distances, or times. No matter where you currently are, it’s always important to have goals that keep you pushing hard.

Setting Good Goals

The following qualities lead to a higher degree of success with goals over the long term:

  1. Measurable

  2. Challenging

  3. Attainable

  4. Based on Personal Values/Excitement

  5. Accountable to Others

Team Goals and Individual Goals

As a team, having common goals gives a uniform purpose and keeps everyone accountable for the entire season. Doing something like winning the conference, regional, or state title cannot be done without a team effort. Team goals should inspire everyone to work hard and be their best but be based on realistic outcomes for the season.

Individual goals will ultimately support the team goals but will keep each person on the team working hard when they need to train on their own.

It can help build a stronger team culture to come up with team goals as a group and then post them in a place that the team will regularly see them throughout the season.

Research suggests that individual goals are often more effective when people keep them to themselves. This is due to a little mental hiccup that can happen when you share goals publicly: You start to believe that the goals are already partly achieved and become less focused on the work, which is what really matters in terms of achieving the goals.

Process vs. Outcome

This is, perhaps, the most important thing to consider with goal setting. While it is a good thing to have outcome goals (run a certain time, come in a certain place), the daily focus should be on the process that will produce those goals. Ultimately, we each control how much we embrace the process.

Think of it this way: You want to be the best at getting better. This means that no matter what your eventual outcome goal is, the process goals should be the same: come to practice ready to work, take care of your body, have a positive attitude, support your teammates, and embrace the focus of each workout you do (whether that focus is to build fitness, recover, etc). Creating that capacity to improve on an everyday basis will make a bigger impact over the course of your running career, to the point where the goals will simply be logical follow-ons from the work you put in every day.