Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Forget about your Goals for Running Success

5 min read

If you want running success forget about your goals. Forget about outcomes and focus on the consistent effort required to make small progress everyday. Like most pursuits in life running success requires consistent, deliberate and incremental effort.

This does not mean you shouldn’t have goals. Everyone needs goals, however goals don’t get the work done. Putting in the effort consistently, daily, weekly over months that gets you to these goals. For running success this means layering weeks of training together and watching aerobic fitness build over time.

In the modern world with distractions and self validation available through the swipe of a smartphone getting stuck into the work required has never been more difficult. You can go on social media now and see an elite runner tell you how they nailed their speed work session this morning and feel like you just need to do the sexy workouts to get success. The truth is the elites do the hard work, unsexy runs and the spicy workouts, they put in consistent effort over years and improve incrementally.

Just like most aspects of life improving running takes time and effort. If you want to progress in your job, put in the effort and a good boss will notice. If you want to have a healthy diet you need to eat healthy foods over time and put in the effort to reject unhealthy options consistently. The same applies to running success, you don’t control the results you achieve. You only control the effort you put in.

Set Goals

This obviously sounds like counter intuitive advice judging by the title of the article. However we all need goals, we need an endpoint to measure our efforts. We also need to be able to put these aside and focus on the running, focus on the work required rather than the result.

Achieving goals makes the accomplishment more satisfying. It is validation that the hard work was worthwhile. Set yourself goals, short term, long term, small goals, big goals even audacious goals that today may seem impossible. Write these goals down, tell your family and friends your goals. Commit to what you want to achieve.

Now with the start of another year is the perfect time to set yourself goals or review your current goals and achievements. What do you want to achieve in the new year? What does success look like?

Roadmap to success

Once you have decided what you want to achieve the next step is to work out how to get there.

The first advice is to take a snapshot of where you currently are and where you need to go. If your goal is to run a marathon, how far are you from that goal today and where do you need to go to achieve that goal. Then you need to work out how to get there.

Most runners will set goals around getting faster or running a new distance or event. How you get to your goal is individual as we all start from different places and have different backgrounds in the sport. These factors include longevity in the sport, age, gender, ability, injury history, available time for running and many more.

When you look at how you get to a goal, look at previous race preparations you’ve had, analyse the time you spent training. How did you feel about your preparation when you stood on the start line? What can you do better to improve?

If all this confuses you reach out to more experienced runners or a coach that you trust. Build a plan or have your coach map this for you to reach your goals.

Getting to work

Then it comes time to get to work. This is the time you should forget your goals, or at least push them aside. Focus on the plan, and do the work.

Ultimately this is why we run. The daily habit and grind of running is the real joy we get from running. This daily pursuit of running is where the real magic of running happens. The race day feels get most of the glory, especially in the social media era, and of course we all love the feeling of crossing the finish line and achieving our set goals. But its those of us that fall in love with the daily habit and pursuit of running that achieve a deeper running connection and success.

Happiness in running doesn’t just come when you cross a finish line in a personal best time, it comes every time you go running.

If you can get this type of happiness from running, then it becomes much easier to get out and get the work done. How you do this is find what you love from running. Is it the friendships and camaraderie from group running, the solitude and mental clarity from solo running or is it a combination of these things. However you gain most happiness is how you should run, how you pursue your running is up to you.

From here it’s just the act of running. Stick to the plan and get out for each run, do the work. If you are able to complete every run on your schedule over the course of the weeks and months you will improve from your starting point.

Just Run

If you want to improve as a runner, just run. if you want a deeper running success, have a plan for success built for you and then just run.

When Eliud Kipchoge puts his shoes on for training each day, he goes running. It’s the same for you, me and every other runner in the world. Running is a very simple sport, just run.

We often try and over complicate the sport, using technology too deeply or trying to find the perfect workout to make us run faster. The truth is if you just run, and run consistently over a period of time you will improve. If you can make running a habit that easily fits into your life regularly then running success will come your way. The real secret to running is simply making sure you are running often and not skipping runs due to weather, or when life gets in the way.

If you want to be a better runner. Just Run. Once you consistently link weeks of training together your aerobic fitness builds and you improve, running becomes further entrenched in your habits.

Ultimately running success comes to those that do the work. Like most pursuits in life, those that do the work get the rewards. Running is a brilliant metaphor for this, you can achieve running success and use this as a guide for life.

By setting your goals and then forgetting about them to a degree it lets you free to focus one the job at hand. Do the work and the goals will be achieved.

You only control the effort. Not the results.

If you need help finding a place to start or help building the right plan for you teach me at

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