How to Set Goals

Learning how to set goals is often seen as a no-brainer by runners, but setting goals that are specifically tailored to you is a critical step towards success. With this in mind, it's really worth taking the time to properly learn how to set goals that are right for you and that you have a good shot at meeting if you apply yourself to reach your potential. Believe it or not, there is a basic formula for meeting your goals. In fact, it’s the same basic formula as the formula for all success. You need to know where you are and where you want to go! In other words, if you want to be an individual who consistently sets and meets your goals, it’s not only really important to be aware of exactly what your goals are, but also where you are in your current fitness.

If you haven't already done so, the first thing you want to do, is use a race prediction chart and plug in some recent race times. You will be provided with some reasonable estimates for your immediate and step goals (see description below). You can also use the pace calculator tool if you need to work out running paces for different event distances based on your desired finished time, to give you an idea if your goal pace is challenging yet realistic.

Next, when you are thinking about setting your running goals, it’s important to consider and have an awareness of your weaknesses and strengths. As any level runner, we have some things that we are good at and things that we can work on or currently struggle with.


You can identify your strengths and weakness in a few ways such as considering:

  1. Past successes
  2. Past failures
  3. Input of others (qualified coach, mentor, trusted friend/athlete)
While it’s absolutely essential to believe in yourself and your abilities, realize that it can be difficult to self coach. You should try to be open to the input of a trusted coach or fellow athlete that knows you and cares about your success, particularly if you are not experiencing much success. They may not always be right, but give any input some careful consideration before dismissing it. For example, if you always fade or get passed going up hills and you will be racing a hilly course, consider more emphasis on hill training for your next program. If you consistently stay on your goal pace until mile 19 and then badly fade, have a good look at the number and length of long runs that you have been doing to prepare for your run.

In short, if you want to change your results, you need to change your habits or simply try something different!

For much more on goal setting including some practical tools that you can use, check out the goal setting tips page.

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