Everyone has different goals and motivations when it comes to running. For Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, his sole objective is running at top speed for 26.2 miles over grueling courses. On April 18th, 2011, he did just that at the Boston Marathon, finishing the race in 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 2 seconds, setting a new world record for the fastest time ever logged.

While the majority of the running community only dream of running that fast for that long, they too have a passion for racing and pursue their own unique challenges. But why do these individuals dish out registration fees, make time commitments to running, and sign up for races months before the race day? Every one of them has found their own, distinctive reason for why they run. Whether it’s raising money for a charity, running in memory of a loved one, or simply striving to get in better shape, your reason must be something important to you, to get you out the door on cold, rainy days, or to make you drive to the gym after an exhausting day of work. Your reason must be important enough that you can overcome adversity on the way to completing your goal.

Setting Realistic Running Goals

After establishing why you run, write down goals that you will accomplish, because “a goal not reduced to writing and reviewed often is a mere wish.” (Rem Jackson). And with each objective, be “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound) while writing the goals. For example, a 20-year female misses training for the sports she played during high school and wants to begin training for a half marathon 4 months away. She will likely have success because she has a specific goal of finishing a half marathon, an underlying reason for why she wants to run, and sufficient training time to be ready for the race day.

Jim Rohn has popularized the concept of the mastermind alliance and he states, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Therefore, if there’s someone in your running group who often misses workouts or tries to encourage you to skip your planned runs, maybe it’s time to find a new running crew that shares your aspirations. Even if you don’t dream of running a 2 hour marathon, your reasons for running could be include anything from reducing stress to waking up at 6am to run with Fido.

Whatever the reasons, make it personal, write it down, and always find enjoyment during this journey!

The Best Training Method for Increasing your Mileage

I’m always a fan of people taking steps to become healthier. And that's part of why I love to offer my runner's extra motivation. But when you begin any new exercise program, especially when you’re first getting into running, the potential for foot and ankle injuries is pretty high.

So, to keep you on a happy, healthy and inspired path, try these five stay-safe tips from your Houston running doctor

  1. Start small: Don’t assume that you can get off the couch and run a 5K all in one week. When you’re first starting to run, keeping your mileage low and spacing out sessions will help keep your muscles from getting stress injuries.
  2. Choose the right shoe: Instead of grabbing whatever sneaker is on sale or looks the prettiest, spend a little more time in a running store like Fleet Feet and invest in a pair of shoes that fits your needs (the experts in the store should help.) As an added bonus, paying a little more for your sneaks should help you stay committed to your new running program.
  3. Drink up: Staying hydrated before, during and after a run will help you avoid a lot of the initial aches and pains new runners experience.
  4. Just focus on you: Don’t compare yourself to other runners. Don’t try to pass people on the trail our speed up to match pace with the person on the treadmill next to yours. If you try to run like someone else, you’re more likely to get hurt. If you run like and for you, that’s when you’ll feel great and do your best.
  5. Keep track: Download an app like Map My Run and keep track of how many miles you’ve been running and how fast you’re doing it. Not only will this help you limit your miles at the beginning, but it will also give you a great way of seeing your progress as you improve and keeping you motivated to keep at it.

Still need more helping with your running goals? I'm happy to see you, in the office or via Telemedicine, to provide a gait analysis, discuss orthotics and address any pain or injuries that may be holding you back from achieving your training goals. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.