I recently set my goals for 2015, but after talking with a few of my running friends I wanted to provide some information that might help you set your goals.
I read about setting race goals a while back that said that you should not just have one goal. If you are doing your first half marathon, you should have a goal that you would be happy with and an ambitious goal that might be a little outside of your current abilities, but will push you. An example might be to finish the half marathon as your initial goal. Your ambitious goal could be a specific time, pace, or running the whole race without stopping. By doing this, you can still feel accomplished even if you don’t reach your ambitious goal.
A great resource for people who are going to run their first race, or at least the first race at a new distance, is to follow a training plan. It is vital to not progress too quickly in mileage or increasing your pace because that will usually end up in being injured. Hal Higdon offers free training plans for almost all race distances. Each distance is broken down into several different intensities (novice, intermediate, and advanced). I have used the Hal Higdon plan on two of my three half marathon last year and got a PR each time. All of Hal’s training plans are free.
Another good training source if you are just starting out is to do the Couch 2 5K. You can get an app on your phone for free (at least for android phones). It will lead you through intervals of running and walking until you are able to run a 5k without stopping. Once you complete that, they also have ha Couch 2 10K.
Don’t just say you want to do a race. It is too easy to never fully commit. Pick a race or races (that will allow the proper amount of training time) and purchase your registration. That way you are committed and can start to plan your training. It is easier to follow though when you have a solid goal in mind. If your goal is to run your first half marathon, you might want to pick a 5k in the spring, 10k in the summer and the half marathon in the fall. That way you can progress and finishing races will energize you for the next race. I love the feeling of crossing the finish line.
Better yet, set a goal with a friend. If you know another person who would like to run a race with you, pick the race together. You can do your training runs together, which will keep you motivated. Training partners can help keep you accountable and help give you that much needed push when you want to give up.
It doesn’t matter if you want to lose weight, get a new PR, or finish a new race distance; having a solid plan and sticking to it will be the key to reaching those goals. Stay positive and I hope you all have a great start to 2015. It is going to be a great year!!!