I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but this time of year makes us think about setting goals in business, our personal life and hopefully running. I always ask the high school cross country team members I coach to set goals in the pre-season, so they pause and think about what they'd like to accomplish in the upcoming season. I once read that "your goals are dreams written on paper," which is a good practice to follow. Write out your goals and stick them on your mirror, refrigerator or wherever you'll see them everyday to remind you of your mission.
So how do you go about creating useful and realistic goals? Follow the SMART priniciple so that your goals are:
Specific: Example – I want to run the half marathon without stopping.
Measurable: I want to run the half marathon in less than two hours.
Acceptable: Confer with a coach or somebody knowledgable or just look in the mirror.
Realistic: Hitting the Olympic A standard is probably not within reach for most of us.
Timely: Stage your efforts – both short and long term goals.
Some other tips are to make your goals positive in nature instead of negative. (Example: "I'm going to be strong the last three mile"s vs. "I hope I don't die at the end of the race.")
Look at performance (things within your control and setting a PR) and not outcome based (I want to win the race or beat my sister in law) goals. "
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp or what's heaven for.." Aristotle