Do you plan to set some New Year running goals, but you're worried they'll fall flat? Do you even remember what resolution you made last year? And, if you do, did you reach your goals? Do you want to do something different this year? We’re here to help.
Maybe you want to start a fresh running routine, or maybe you just want to step up your existing training schedule. Without getting hurt. Perhaps you even want to make it through a half-marathon, marathon or triathlon next year. Regardless of what you want to work on in the New Year, we have some helpful tips to help you follow through: turn your New Year running resolutions into SMART goals!
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. As a whole, they help create a plan that will help you stick to resolutions and meet your goals. All without feeling overwhelmed! What does that look like if you have New Year running goals? Let's take a closer look.
Meeting New Year Running Goals the SMART Way
If you want to run more or differently in the new year, this is how we'll get you going.
First, start with SPECIFIC goals:
Maybe you want to be able to run for one mile without stopping. Perhaps you want to train for a couch to 5k. Or even beat your personal best time in a 10K or marathon. Whatever goal resonates with you, make it very specific and write. It. Down.
Now, make your goals MEASURABLE
This is the part where you make it easier to track your progress on the path to meeting New Year running goals. We suggest breaking your big goal down into smaller chunks. Set specific daily, weekly or monthly standards. These could be anything, but if we return to that original goal of running a full mile without stopping? It could look like this. Run a quarter mile in one go in week one. Then, in week two, three and beyond, move up in manageable, measurable increments to stay on track.
Be certain your goal is ACHIEVABLE
This is the part of the goal-setting process where we suggest using common sense. Don’t expect to run an ultramarathon this year if you’ve never set your treadmill above a walking pace. Equally important, don’t make a running goal if you’re still dealing with chronic heel pain—you’re only setting yourself up to fail! Instead, make it your first goal to address underlying conditions. Then, you can start getting into running.
Next, keep goals REALISTIC
Be sure to work toward your goals in reasonable chunks. In other words, don't expect to make giant training increases in one or two weeks. Instead, follow the slow and steady model. This is important for two reasons. First, it will help you actually stick to your plan. But, more importantly, it will help you avoid sustaining a running injury. (More on that in a minute.)
Finally, make them Timebound
Now, we told you not to move too quickly when progressing to your New Year running goals. But you do have to set yourself a goal of reaching that landmark by a certain date. Otherwise, you'll lose all incentive to get started. Working towards a one mile run? Try giving yourself three-four months to get there. But if you have a larger goal of running 26.2 miles, or beating your time for existing races, feel free to give yourself six to eight months. That way, you'll know you can follow best practices for safely increasing your running speed or distance.
The Safe Way to Run Farther or Faster
Any time you increase your running pace or distance, you increase your risk for overuse injuries. That's because you're putting extra strain on supportive muscles. Then, if you make your increases rapidly, your risk goes up dramatically. And that's because you don't give your muscles and tendons enough time to gradually adjust to their new, tougher job.
So, how can you meet your New Year running goals without getting hurt? Unfortunately, the science here isn't exactly precise. But, using what we know from current research, we can set you up with a guideline for runners that can help you safely level-up your training. Here's what that looks like.
A SMART Plan to Increase Your Running Miles
While you're focusing on meeting New Year running goals for pace or distance, it's important to also think about how you're training. First, make sure that you build rest days into each of your weekly training plans. That will give your muscles a chance to recover and gain strength between each session. Next, think about including at least one day of strength training into your weekly SMART goal progress. Focus on your core--your back and your abdominals--to help you maintain an upright posture when you run. (This seems to be a great way to prevent running injuries, because it reduces the impact on your lower body when your foot strikes the ground.)
With rest days and crosstraining in place, you should be on track to run faster or farther each week. And you should be able to do so without getting hurt. But this plan assumes that you're coming to the track, trail or treadmill with a clean slate. So, if you have any existing foot or heel pain, you'll need to address that first before you start working on your New Year running goals.
Help for Heel Pain in Houston, TX
One of the biggest problems facing runners is heel pain. That's because tight calf muscles can tug on your plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue that runs from your heel through the bottom of your foot. When it comes under pressure, inflammation sets in. And that's when you experience heel pain.
Following our SMART training plan can help prevent your heel pain. And so can stretching before and after a run. But, if you already have heel pain? There are ways we can help you heal, while allowing you to keep on training. Best of all, many of our heel pain solutions are non-invasive, something that appeals to people who are trying to live a more natural lifestyle!
Want to be SMART about reaching your New Year running goals? Stay safe when you train, and never train through pain. Instead, contact our office at the first sign of discomfort. We'll get you a plan to heal your pain and help you reach all your running goals, for this year and many more to come!