New Year’s Resolutions for Runners

imagesBy now, you’ve most likely set some New Year’s resolutions. While many say they don’t make them because they can’t keep them, I’ve found the opposite is true with those involved with sport. Athletes, whether professional or amateur, set goals and work hard to achieve them. They ponder the year’s past with what worked and what didn’t, then decide how to become better in the coming year.

The standard definition of how to set a goal involves the S.M.A.R.T. acronym, perhaps you’ve heard of it: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted goals.

Here is an example:

Specific: I will run a six-minute mile in 2014.

Measurable: A six-minute mile is an exact measurement.

Achievable: Did you run a seven minute mile in 2013? If you are hovering around the 10-minute per mile mark, this is probably not an achievable goal and thus you should set one more attainable. It’ll make you feel like a failure if you set something out of reach.

Realistic: Just like achievable, it cannot be a goal like making the Olympic team if you are running a 10-minute mile.

Time-targeted goals: The goal of running a six-minute mile this year is completely time targeted. That means by December 31, 2014, you’ll have achieved this goal.

But you shouldn’t just stop there–you should do more to ensure you achieve. Here are other suggestions when goal setting:

Write your goals down and put them somewhere you’ll see them everyday. You’ll be thinking of the goals more often and are more likely to follow through if they are in your face.

Create a personal goal statement. According to Stephen Covey, the bestselling author of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” you should go a step further than simply following the S.M.A.R.T. tradition. He says, “To achieve our goals many people will create what is called a personal goal statement. This will help the individual understand exactly what the goal is about and why they feel the goal is important to them. The individual should ask questions like How will this goal affect me if achieved? Is this a personal development goal? or is this a career development goal? How will this goal affect me in the four areas of life: body, heart, mind, and spirit?”

Set small goals instead of big ones. Michael Jordan wrote the following about his belief in short-term goals:

“I approach everything step by step….I had always set short-term goals.  As I look back, each one of the steps or successes led to the next one. When I got cut from the varsity team as a sophomore in high school, I learned something. I knew I never wanted to feel that bad again…So I set a goal of becoming a starter on the varsity. That’s what I focused on all summer. When I worked on my game, that’s what I thought about. When it happened, I set another goal, a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough…I guess I approached it with the end in mind. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there. As I reached those goals, they built on one another. I gained a little confidence every time I came through.”

Good luck on accomplishing your 2014 goals, whether they be for sport, work, personal relationships…