How To Challenge Yourself & Achieve Running Goals
When it comes to running goals, there are four major pillars you need to focus on if you want to achieve them. Like any fitness goal, without a plan you're setting yourself up for failure. So use these secrets to create a plan and smash your running goals!
Note: this blog post is sponsored by AI Sportage. I reached out to them in regards to a new running shoe they were releasing and we worked out a partnership (and I got free shoes, woot!).
Running goals are like quicksand, they suck you in. They’re addictive and fun, challenging and never-ending. The truth is, getting started as a runner opens up a lot of doors in terms of goals. Most of the time, running isn’t a team sport and thus it’s up to you what you make from your runs (which can be hard if running doesn't come naturally), what you want from them and how you challenge yourself with them.
When you’re learning to achieve running goals, there’s really only a few aspects that matter:
Like any goal (check out how to smash weight loss goals here), if you don’t stay consistent to your program your success will fizzle out. Your body responds to what it does on a regular basis. Not to what it does, sometimes, when it feels like it.
The other half of achieving running goals is knowledge, planning and execution. There are quite a few aspects that come into play to help make you run faster, run better and run longer.
My Experience Running
When I first started running, I was all over the place (you can check out my running tips for beginners here). I grabbed a beat-up old pair of all-trainer shoes, gave myself wicked shin splints, injured my calf, couldn’t run for longer than a minute and honest to god just sucked.
All I wanted to do was be able to run a 5k and everything seemed to be going wrong. Looking back now it was because I didn’t have a plan. My set up was flawed.
But yours doesn’t have to be. Achieve your running goals by being prepared and training smart.
There’s not a lot of gear that runners truly need but don’t underestimate the power of kick ass running shoes (like these beauties from AI Sportage). There’s a reason that some shoes are designed specifically for running and others are not. Using an old, beat-up paid of trainers results in a lot of pain, set backs and frustration. Trust me on this.
The AI Sportage shoes are great because they’re simple. They’re lightweight, comfortable, they breathe well (stinky feet are a thing when running!!) and they’re durable. I’ve taken mine through a Canadian winter so far and they’re doing alright.
Shoes that fit and are designed for running are a crucial investment. They’ll keep your body happily progressing towards your goals.
Outside of running shoes, everything else is climate based. The first year I ran in whatever workout clothes I had on, I held my phone for music and that was it. You can be as fancy or as low key as you like (though a ten-dollar arm case for your phone makes life a little better). Just don’t cheap out on shoes, it’s really not worth it.
Do not undervalue the importance of a post-workout routine. I learned a lot of lessons that first year running and the first one was that I needed to take better care of myself.
While I have always loved foam rolling post-workout, I've since learned that foam rolling is a necessity for me during my run season. I don't need to roll post-workout specifically. But I do need to spend about 10 minutes trigger pointing my quads, IT band and calves three times per week when I've striving for running goals.
Grab a foam roller from prosourcefit.com sand save 10% when you use code mamabearfit.
If you’re looking to achieve a running goal you need to track your runs. There’s no way around it.
You’re going to want to know how far you’re running, how long it’s taking you and what your running pace is.
Without knowing these fundamentals, how can you expect to improve in any aspect? Not to sound like a nerd here but… knowledge is power!
There’s really only three major running goals people focus on:
- Run faster
- How to run longer
- Run more efficiently
Without know how fast you’re currently running; how can you expect to beat it? Likewise, with distance and pace?
It all comes down to needing some sort of smart technology before you can begin to make a plan of attack.
And here’s the real reason that I initially said the AISportage shoes are badass… they’re smart shoes! Instead of wearing your tracker on your arm o your wrist, the technology is in your shoe.
Since it’s your lower half doing most of the work, having the tracking system in your shoe makes it far more accurate than your arm or even your wrist. It tracks your strikes as they happen and then transfers the data to an app on your phone (below is a snap of the first run I took in the shoes).
Once you know more about how fast you run and the way your run, it’s easier to develop a run specific program specifically for your improvement. If you want to run longer, it’s a pretty silly method to just try to run longer and longer and fail.
Instead, you’ll look at adjusting your pace, building up your duration slowly and working from a place of knowledge instead of blind attempts. From personal experience, not ever run should be a “go hard or go home” race run. If you want to achieve goals, you’ll need a better plan. And every plan starts with information collection.
Fixing Form & Running Goals
The first few months that I ran involved a lot of pain. Pain I thought was normal as my body adjusted. It was not.
The next year that I ran was far less pain but not optimal in performance.
The common element in both? Not understanding my own running gait. The more I learned about how to run and more specifically, how I run the more I was able to tweak my form and achieve my goals.
Small movements like holding your chest up, how your foot lands and what type of breathing you’re using, all make a big difference in learning to run faster, longer and without pain.
But rarely do new runners want to spend a lot of money on coaching, analysis and training gear (at least I sure didn’t!). But you don’t have to! Grab a pair of shoes (like the AISportage ones) and they’ll do it for you!
I mentioned that these shoes are “smart shoes” which means that in addition to measuring your steps, distance and calories they also analyze how your foot strikes the ground and your stride length. Since the technology is on your feet and not your arm, it has the advantage of being accurate and not just guessing based on time and distance.
Knowing this information can help you adjust your running technique and you close towards your goals. I learned that I’m a heel striker and take far too long of a stride. Basically, my natural state of running is ineffective when it comes to injury prevention and improvement.
It sounds silly but being a nerd has its advantages: knowledge is power – especially when it comes to how to achieve running goals.
Warm It Up
I've never loved warming up but I appreciate it's necessity and benefits. And if you're going to push hard in a run, you'd be silly to simply walk around beforehand.
Instead, use a quick running warm up and focus on:
- Dynamic stretching
- Mimicking movements
To be honest, I've found that running nutrition isn't nearly as important as you may think. Since my runs last no longer than 4-5k I find I'm actually okay to run fasted.
However, much of this is trial and error.
If you're out for a leisurly run, chances are you don't need a lot of "fuel". But if you're really hustling towards your running goals, you're running long distance or you're going HARD you may want to learn more about what to eat before running.
Get Strong & Capable
One of the reasons I initially despised running was that my knees hurt when I did it. This was from a lack of glute strength (which took me like two years to learn haha).
While running may seem basic, it's not. Because there are so many repetitions during a run, you do need to be strong (specifically in your glutes) as well as mobile throughout the lower body.
If you're trail running or running for sport, you may want to work on some "fast feet" drills also. I started doing this when training for a 10km mud run and it helped me not fall flat on my face.
Well, I think it helped.
Grab an agility ladder from prosource and use code mamabearfit to save some money. then, hustle the kids outside and make a game of it!
Want To Run Pain-Free?
If you’re looking to scale back knee pain, reduce back pain and carry kids easier check out my Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms. A simple, mini-course giving you all the tools you need to strengthen your glutes.
This mini-course takes busy moms through the fundamentals of glute training and glute exercises (how to contract the glutes, what specifically the glutes respond to) and teaches you how to progressively strengthen your glutes over a five-week period.
This course comes with:
- Mini glute workouts – no equipment needed
- Mini glute workouts – with resistance bands
- 3 post-workout glute finishers
- 5-week progressive workout programs
The difference between this mini-course and sporadic, glute exercises is that this glute course and the workouts are progressive. Meaning, they build on one another. The five-week, full-body workout program alters at week four to keep stimulating the glutes.
Since the glutes muscles respond best to variety, the workouts (as well as the glute finishers and mini glute workouts) target the glute muscles in different planes of motion and with different set and rep schemes. This is crucial to developing strength in the glutes.
Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Learn the best practices to implement when it comes to strengthening glutes and reap the benefits of less back pain and the ability t carry kids easier. Because being strong isn’t optional when you’re a mom. Grab your seat in the mini glutes course and start implementing the exercises today.
(when you click on the button a new window will open that will take you to securely process payment)
Final Words On Running Goals
If you’re a new-ish runner, you may be thinking that the best avenue is to “just run”. That was my game plan too. And while getting out the door and started is easily the hardest part of achieving running goals, there’s a bit more to it than that.
You don’t need to suit up in brand names to run out the door. But you do need quality running shoes. As the only actual gear you need, don’t skimp out on them. And if you’re a nerd like me who loves to track, having shoes that both feels great and tracks my runs for me is even better.
If you’re serious about your goals. Even if they seem small to you, set yourself up for success. Make sure you stay injury-free with shoes made for running and develop a plan based on what you know, not what you think you should be able to do.
Psst: Don't forget to pin these tips to help others achieve their running goals!