How to set your 2020 running goals

Thanks to Holabird Sports for asking me to be a part of their “Fitness Fire Storytellers” series with a post about setting your 2020 goals. You can see a version of this article on their website here


Toward the end of 2019, I did as most runners (okay, most people) do: I analyzed what worked and didn’t work for me over the last year. This was an effort to set my goals for 2020. Did I want to be a morning runner, an early bird? Did I want to do my first Ironman? Did I want to slowly crawl back from a lack of running due to injury and just get back to it? The possibilities for starting off this new decade were endless!

You can pretend to not be part of the hoopla, but let’s be honest… You know you have thought about how you are going to rock this new decade! If you’re like me and the possibilities seem overwhelming, here are some key tips and tricks to picking your running goals for the new year.

1. DREAM BIG

Okay, here goes 2020! What do you want to accomplish? Get out some paper and a pen. Start writing down all the running goals you want to accomplish. I promise I won’t peek, so write whatever you want!

This is what I do—well, that and a vision board, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Write down crazy things!

  • “I want to qualify for Kona.”
  • “I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon.”
  • “I want to PR my local 5K.”
  • “I want to run my first half marathon.”
  • “I want to start running!”

All of these goals are amazing and totally personal. What is it you want to achieve for 2020?

I’m heading to my first Cherry Blossom 10 this year

2. DON’T PICK TOO MANY

When deciding on goals, don’t pick too many. Stick with three. Having too many goals can make you feel unfocused and frustrated. I would recommend picking one BIG goal for the year and setting mini-goals during the year to help you get there!

Example: I’m coming back from a 2019 injury and wanted to get back into running. I set a goal to run 2,020 miles in 2020, or Run the Year. So that’s my big goal. To do this, I signed up for five races with the fifth race being my longest and my mini-goal race.

I want to PR my mini-goal race also, which is yet another mini-goal that will go toward my big one. Thankfully, it is a 12 miler, which is an odd distance. I’ve never run that distance before, so I’ll be able to check that box in September! (If you are running the Charles Street 12 miler, feel free to find me and hold me accountable to finishing.)

If you find me make sure I finish this!

3. PICK SOMETHING JUST HARD ENOUGH

Here’s the deal: If you pick something super easy, you won’t be motivated to do it. If you pick something super hard, you are going to psych yourself out and potentially talk yourself out of doing it altogether.

We all know those people who set goals that are WAY too big. Then, about three months out they stop training altogether and start saying things like, “I totally forgot that I signed up for that race and haven’t been training,” or “I’ll never finish.” Then they don’t. No one is ever shocked by this conversation.

Don’t be that person in 2020. It’s a new decade and you (we) are going to rock it!

I chose the B3 as my challenge this year! I’m building up slow and smart!

4. TELL THE WORLD

By the world, I mean your friends, your family, or strangers on the internet. Post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Ask these people to help you stay accountable! When you don’t want to run, make sure they ask you if you’ve run today; you want them nagging you! Gather your support system—in person or virtually—and ask them to hold you accountable. Ask them to be your cheerleaders. Trust me, by April you are going to want to quit, and if no one is asking you about it, you might actually quit.

5. IT’S OKAY TO PIVOT

(If you didn’t hear Ross Geller yelling PIVOT from behind a couch: Who even are you?!)

What happens if you pick a goal and something crazy happens: you get injured, a friend decides to get married in Peru the same weekend as your goal race, or you just realize you need more time? It’s totally okay to set a new goal! If you are still working toward your goal come July (like I will be), it is fine to assess the ups and downs of the last six months, make any necessary course corrections, and get back out there! These are your goals. These are your successes. No one can rock this for you, so you have to decide what’s best.

6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM

Once you’ve set your goal, I recommend that you find an accountability buddy (it could be someone you reached out to during #4). Maybe it’s your bestie, a training group, your significant other—even your dog. You need a reason, besides the goal, to get your butt moving! Your local running group, running store, or gym, may have training groups that you can join to help you reach your goals. Maybe find a friend or colleague with a similar goal so you can go after your goals together!

At the end of the day, it all boils down to this: Do whatever you need to accomplish your goal! You will thank yourself for it in December when you are setting your goals for 2021!

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, set your goals, and start working toward them!

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