KATHLEEN LENINGER, PT & DPT.
“What’s the goal?” Odds are, someone has asked you this at least once a year since you were old enough to have goals! Goals come in all forms; group and individual, personal and professional, running-related or not! No matter what the goal is, there are lots of things to consider along the way.
A recent study published in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise looked at goal setting strategies in both male and female marathoners. All of the subjects were recreational runners, and all had completed a marathon in the past. The results bring up some interesting points. The men in this study were more likely to consider the race size for competitiveness than women. The majority of men were looking at not only a time goal but also a finishing place, while the women’s goals were generally more personal. Both types of goals are important and very valid!
The study also found that women were more likely than men to seek professional help (coaches, trainers) to assist in making a goal. It isn’t a bad idea to ask a professional that knows you to help you to discern the specifics of your goal should be, but proceed with caution! Make sure that the goals you set together are important to you! How much you care about your goal is what will keep you motivated.
Remember, running goals don’t have to be based solely on time. Maybe focus on placing in an age group or an overall win! How about holding even paces, nailing down your nutrition for a race, to negative split, to get a group award? Goals don’t even have to be based on race. You can have a goal to run alone at least 1x a week or with a group of 1x a week. You can have a goal to always stretch before running (your hamstrings will thank you for this one). What about a goal to invite a friend to try running with you?
These alternative goals are no less important than PR goals. The best goal is the one you care the most about at this moment in time. Why not try a new kind of goal this year? We’ll be here to support you along the way.
*Source: Larumbe-Zabala, E. et al. Goal-setting strategy & psychological differences in marathon runners compared by gender. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise. 2019, 14(4): 725-735