90 Day GoalsSep 01, 2022
As runners, we know that we should be setting goals, but so many runners set arbitrary goals with the wrong timelines, leading to frustration and disappointment when they don’t reach them and that dreaded plateau that so many runners face.
This is why understanding the purpose of our goals and setting the right goals is so critical.
Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of a goal is not to achieve it. The purpose of a goal is to give us direction. Goals guide us.
How do we know where we are going unless we set a goal ahead of time?
With that in mind, what is the goal that you want to work towards? Where do you want to go?
The goal has to matter to you. It cannot be arbitrary, or it’s essentially worthless. Goals guide us, and they also motivate us to keep going when it gets tough. In those times, we need to lean into why that goal is important to us.
Let’s think about training for a marathon. Your friend keeps asking you to sign up and run the race with her, but you’re not really sure. Finally, you just give in. You think, sure, why not? But how much does that goal really mean to you?
Training for a marathon takes time, patience, long runs, perseverance, and mental strength. When you’re feeling tired and don’t really want to go out for a 15-mile training run, what’s going to get you out of bed? If you’re not connected to the goal, it will be much easier for you to blow it off. On the other hand, if you really want to complete that marathon, you’re going to get out of bed and get it done because that is what is required to achieve the goal.
That’s why your intention behind your goal is so important. It keeps you motivated to do the things necessary to achieve your goal.
The goal must also be specific. “I want to get faster” is not a good goal. How fast?
How will you know if you achieve it? You must be able to look at the goal and know if you did or didn’t achieve it.
Let’s think about asking my kids to clean their room. Their definition of a clean room and my definition of a clean room is different, so if I want them to clean their room according to my goal, I need to make sure they understand what my expectations are for their clean room. The same goes for our running goals. Having a clear and specific goal lets you know when you will achieve it or what else you might need to do to get there.
Once you know that, then the question becomes, how do I get there?
This is the point of the 90-day goal.
Often runners choose goals that are maybe 6 months or 12 months in the future. That seems like a long time, but depending on your goal, current fitness level, and physical ability, you may need that full amount of time to prepare for your goal. What do you need to do now to be ready to achieve that goal in 8 months?
Breaking down bigger goals into smaller goals and action steps allows us to create a pathway towards our goals. If you are currently able to run a 5k and you want to be able to run a marathon, you have some training to do. You can’t wait until 12 weeks before the marathon to start building your strength and endurance.
You know you need to start building your foundation, but where do you start?
Take that big goal and work backward. You know that your marathon plan starts with a long run of 13 miles, but you’re currently able to run 4. How do you get from 4 to 13 in the best way? How do you build up strength to support your body as you increase your mileage? How long will it take you to build up to that?
By thinking about all of these questions, your path becomes more clear. It’s like trying to save money for a big trip. You know the trip will cost $6000 and you have 6 months to save. How can you save money now that will add up over time to get you to the $6000 needed in 6 months? You could save $1000 a month for 6 months. You could save $500 for the first 2 months, $1000 for the next 2 months, and $1500 for the last 2 months. There are many other paths you can take, but you have to choose one and decide ahead of time what your plan will be if you want to have the best chance of getting there.
So back to our running. You know that the 3 months before the marathon will be spent training for the race. The 3 months prior to that might be spent building up the mileage to get to the starting point of the marathon plan. The 3 months before that might be focused on strength training and addressing any old aches or pains so that they don’t derail your training. Or you could reverse it and do a mileage building cycle, a strength building cycle, then a race training cycle. The order can be somewhat flexible (especially with a longer timeline), but it’s important to commit to one plan and carry it out.
By using 90-day goals to your advantage, you can continue to build your fitness, work towards and achieve big goals, and not experience the dreaded plateau that so many runners face.
Now get out there and run your life.
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