Revisit goal setting during the pandemic
So, where do you see yourself on December 31, 2021?
In a time of chaos, limited social life, increased time spent at home, apparently more “free” time, have you taken the time for some self-reflection? As runners, we are conditioned to set goals based on upcoming races. Well, that’s not a sure thing anymore.
Does that mean you shouldn’t set goals in favor of not having your heart-broken time and time again? Absolutely not. There is still plenty to strive to accomplish, endorphins to collect, and lifestyle changes to make.
1. Revisit personal annual goals
You may have wanted to run a Boston Qualifier or finish your first ultra-marathon. With both of those events, think about why you wanted to reach those goals.
- Set a smaller goal. Think running a personal best in a one mile – 5K or completing your longest long run ever. Things you can control as an individual have a higher chance of success.
- Was your audacious goal tied to hopes of weight loss, or a more consistent running routine? That can still get accomplished. Start by setting up your schedule to allow you to dedicate 20-30 minutes per day to exercise. Repeat this for a few weeks, and you’re at the start of a routine!
Once you set and complete smaller goals, you are more likely to remain motivated to reach the big, long-term goals. Otherwise, losing motivation could make your goals seem unattainable and increase the chances of veering off course.
2. Attend to your mental and physical needs
Take this strange “downtime” from always needing to be in tip-top shape to rebound physically and mentally.
Aches and pains should not be part of your everyday life. If there is an area in your body that’s troublesome, take the time to rest and heal. Then discuss a plan of attack, which includes specific exercises to strengthen the supporting muscles and tendon with your coach. The same goes for a mental refresh. Burn-out is extremely common among distance runners. Take some pressure off yourself.
Working toward a big breakthrough requires both physical and mental energy, so it is important that both aspects are attended to when making an appropriate goal for the next time around. If emotions are high or you are unusually physically worn down, setting a goal will be more difficult and irrational.
3. Take inventory of what you liked and disliked about your past races
Did you use to race for charity and find your cause to be a crucial motivator? Did you enjoy (or not enjoy) any travel involved to get to your race site? Were you enthused by the crowds or did you enjoy the solitude of a less populated and more scenic race route? Pick the top three enjoyable aspects of your race experience as well as the three aspects that were most problematic to help narrow down what types of races/ goals will suit your preferences.
Once you have a list and your motivators and dislikes, let’s get to work setting up the next challenge.
4. Use the resources at your disposal
This is especially key when we consider the change of seasons. If you live in a region where the winters are particularly cold or the summers particularly hot, or if you have become accustomed to doing long runs or challenging workouts during hours that can go from light to dark depending on the season, keep these in mind when selecting your next goal.
If it’s difficult to spend a great deal of time outside, then select a goal that’s short and fast, so your efforts can be concentrated appropriately. Remember, improving your speed is a valuable tool for any runner.