Friday thoughts #1: Goals!


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I do my best thinking when running

Mindset plays a massive part in achieving your running goals. There is no two ways about it. For many it will be the pass or fail factor when it comes down to what they end up realising. I’ve written before about knowing what you want and having a true hunger for that. Today, well, it’s about goals and shooting for them.

If you are sitting right now thinking “I’d love to run [insert any distance, race or adventure here]” the chances are that it will be something big relative to you. But, you can’t climb your proverbial Everest without being able to tick off a couple of munros first.

Here’s four tips I use when setting out goals and getting on a path to achieve them.

  1. Firstly, I determine why it is important enough to be a personal goal. And that’s the genesis of any achievement. Make it personal to you, and make it achievable but stretching. Whether it is to raise money for charity, the experience, winning or just taking part and finding new boundaries for yourself, you have to make it mean something. If you get goosebumps thinking about it you are halfway there already.
  1. “Soon” and “One day” and “I’ll need to do that” and allthatshittypassivelanguage needs to be eradicated from your vocabulary. Instead, set a date when you want to hit that goal by. Not an arbitrary sometime-in-the-future date with no thought. Even better, pick the event in which you will achieve it. Whether it is Strathclyde Parkrun in July 2018, or the Highland Fling 2017, make it real. And live it in your actions and words.
  1. Then, I tell people about it. Not everyone initially. Just those whose opinion and counsel I trust on the matter in hand. That’s the running equivalent of planting a seed in fertile soil. By verbalising it you start to imagine it. You make it a thing. Something. It’s all of a sudden out of your head and into the world. You will be amazed at how excited people can get for you when you do this. I used my Rocky Raccoon vlogs as a way of externalising my goals. If you watched even just one you played a part in helping me.
  1. In the words of MC Hammer (and many much better rappers) I then break it down. When I plan for a race, I segment it into bite-sized chunks. I might not be able to imagine running for 24 hours in one fell swoop, but somehow, no matter how f*cked I am, I can always see myself doing another hour. Then another, then another… The point is, if you want to run your first [insert any distance, race or adventure here – again] it is likely to be beyond your current capacity. But that is current capacity, and we all know that training, attitude, and a whole host of other stuff will increase that capacity. Today’s half-marathon race, the limit of your current capacity will be tomorrow’s training run. Believe in that, and win small lots. Those small wins added together become a massive achievement.

And that is that. Set meaningful, achievable and really personal goals and go after them with small wins everyday. Go surprise yourself!

This is the 1st in a series of weekly blogs I will be doing on running hints and tips. I’d love to hear from you if it was useful, or sparked a thought or was downright miserable and you just want to tell me it was garbage. Get in touch and feel free to share!

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. Sharon Anderson says:

    Hi James, absolutely brilliant read and I’m pleased that I am doing some of your tips already. I have set myself the challenge of doing the newry half marathon end of May and raising money for Focus Cancer NI. A charity close to my heart. I felt my training was going well until the other night. I ran 15k but I felt awful and really struggled for the last 3k as always it’s my dad wee Denis that keeps me going to finish what I set out to do!!! I’ve felt crap for the past couple of days and so tired. I started to think maybe I can’t do this half but after reading this it has given me a wee kick up the butt!! Trainers back on and away I go again. Thank you James

    1. Hey, thanks a lot. And 15k is no mean feat this far out. It’s not meant to be easy either. Go get it, Sharon!!

  2. Gareth says:

    Agreed on these! I’m way back on my journey compared to you but I have done or am doing all of these and it’s working for me. Might do a post myself referencing yours if you dont mind establishing my goals. I find my blog is a way of doing number 3. Most of my friends IRL just think i’ve gone mad :p

    1. Hey, thanks Gareth. Honoured you’d reference mine. Great to hear you sounding so positive too.

  3. Angela says:

    LOVE THIS! I’m currently 6 weeks away from my first marathon so I have been using these steps!

    1. Brilliant! Good luck in the marathon, Angela.

      1. Angela says:

        Thank You 😊

  4. robsanderson1 says:

    thanks James for reminding of my goals and how achive them by having bit size wins. I still have a long way to go to reach my goal for next year and time is flying in but it is insight and the finish goal may change slightly but I am looking forward to getting there.

    1. Long way to reach your end goal, but only a short way to meeting your next mini-goal on the journey. You’ll ace it, Rob!

  5. Klara says:

    Hi James! Thanks for such a great reminder of why we (runners) do what we do. This was much needed as I inch my way into peak training mode this time around!

    1. Thanks, Klara. Good luck with the training.

  6. A great read as always. Love how the reality of bite sized chunks for you these days is ‘can I do another hour?’, not ‘can I shuffle on and finish this kilometre?’ 😂 really enjoyed this ☺️

  7. miles2go4u says:

    Great read! I love the part about verbalizing your goals to make them real, and how they may be beyond your current capacity but “current” is the key word! I’m less than 2 months out from my first 50 mile race. Training has made me feel like it is definitely in my grasp. I hope to conquer a 100 at some point after that!

    1. Good luck! Hope the 50 goals well.

  8. Naren Sundar says:

    Even though my top goals do not involve running, I still find your advice to be spot-on, no-nonsense, and so applicable! Thank you.

  9. Robert O Donnell says:

    Great picture of the sooncut . How in God’s name were you not selected for the international squad? Managing to avoid the Highland cattle cowpats ? Good to read about your daily progress. Feel as though I’ve been out of training without your dose of daily discourse. ( an alliteration apology am afraid) good luck in future events James
    Robert

    1. Howdy Robert! I am in the international squad, and the final five for the world champs gets announced today. Fingers crossed I make the cut.

      I’ve missed your wee missives but the weekly blogs will help keep us connected I am sure. Watch this space!!

  10. Robert O Donnell says:

    Superb. Thought you’d been overlooked

  11. Great article. I listened to your section of the WHW podcast last night as did my Tuesday trundle. Nine weeks to go and A’m keichin it!

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