How To Challenge Yourself & Achieve Running Goals
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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 too 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.