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Setting goals for spring training.

For most of us, winter is our off-season. Winter fills the need for a scheduled recovery period especially for competitive runners. For the rest of us, winter weather, holiday commitments, travel, and flu and cold season conspire to scale back your training even if you weren't intending to cut back. In either case, spring is the season to start training with a fresh commitment and well thought out plans and goals.

Here's a primer on setting your running and fitness goals for the year. Without a road map, you're likely to wander around without clear direction. Set goals, draw up a plan, and you can take your training to a new level of accomplishment.

Goal setting has a cumulative, positive effect. Having well chosen goals and an intelligent training--plan can help you avoid frustration, injury, lost motivation and disappointment. It provides the immense satisfaction of success and achievement. By building on previous successes it can enable you to be a lifelong runner, avoiding the pitfalls of overtraining and injury. In turn, running can give you more pleasure than ever.

Make a Checklist

This is your opportunity to stand back with an objective eye and evaluate yourself the way a coach would. Get out a notepad and give yourself an interview using the following points as a guide. Write down notes under every topic. You will finish with a clear understanding of where you're starting and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. An honest evaluation will help you set achievable goals, solve problems in your training, and build on your successes.

* Height, Weight, General Health

* Diet

* Previous base, length of long runs, weekly average mileage, race pace

* Personal records for every distance you've raced or run

* Use of recovery

* Racing strategies

* Strength

* Flexibility

* Previous injuries

* Attitude, motivation, strategies for handling setbacks

* Crosstraining

* Tapering

Now take a hard look at the results. Where are your weak links, your Achilles' heel? Does your motivation flag mid-season? Do you need to add muscle and strength? Lose a few pounds? Were you plagued with injuries last year? Don't know when to quit? Use the results of your personal survey to guide you with goal setting.

Train Smarter by Setting Achievable Goals This is your opportunity to lay out a plan that covers your major training objectives by setting sensible goals. Don't think that the only way to set new personal records is to train harder and longer. It is likely that you can achieve your goals by simply training smarter. And the first step is to establish your objectives.

Be specific Deciding that you would like to be a faster runner or a better runner is not an effective approach. You need to set specific goals. For example, if you are relatively new to racing, you might decide to trim 20 or 30 seconds from your 10K time. If you are a seasoned 10K runner, maybe you'd like to trim two or three seconds from your personal record. If you are new to racing, you might set running your first 10K as your goal. Maybe you've been running forever and have started having injuries. You need to solve the training errors that are contributing to that pattern. No matter what your personal goals, you need to be specific. Vague, grand desires will evaporate because they are not constructive.

Be reasonable Changes in performance are built upon incremental improvements and the longer you've been running the smaller the improvement you can expect. Beginners can feel legitimate amazement as you progress from not being able to run a lap without stopping to walk, to running several continuous miles at a time within an astonishingly short period. Conditioning gains for the untrained runner can be enormous in the early stages of running, but these inevitably taper off, as you become fitter.

Write it down. Don't just think it, write it down--in ink. Keep a journal. Make tangible notes throughout the year on your progress. These notes will be the basis for not only your success, they will also help you develop new goals next year so that you remain motivated and continue to progress.

Consider a coach. Whether you are concerned about biomechanics or want to achieve new personal bests, a coach or a personal 4 trainer can help you solve problems and set up training schedules to achieve your goals. You can find a

List of certified coaches at

Success Breeds Success

This may be an overused aphorism but that is simply because it is true. Setting achievable but challenging goals and making a tangible plan enables you to map your progress. And nothing motivates more than the positive feedback you get from successfully moving toward your goal. What you can do today, you couldn't do a month ago. (For help implementing your goals into an effective training plan choose from among several excellent hooks. The Running Times Guide to Breakthrough Running, 2000, Gordon Bakoulis, editor, Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc., Champaign, IL, 357 pp., $19.95 with contributions from 20 different running experts. The competitive Runner's Handbook, by Bob Glover and Shellylynn Florence Glover, 1999, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 672 pp., $17.95. Marathon, by Jeff Galloway, 1999, 303 pp., $14.95. These books and more are available at, or by calling 1-800-776-2732. American Running Members receive 20% off retail price when ordering through the Association.)
COPYRIGHT 2001 American Running & Fitness Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Newman, Carol
Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 2001
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