Set Bold Yet Realistic Goals for 2016

Set Bold yet Realistic Goals for 2016

Let’s talk about goals today! 

As it seems with many other runners, coaches, and bloggers, I thrive on setting goals. I am, by nature, a goal-driven person. That’s why I love running, especially since I shifted away from the deadline-focused nature of academia. I love setting goals and I love the pursuit of them. Even if I don’t achieve them the first time around, I never regret a goal and my work towards its achievement.

I will share with you my personal goals for 2016 soon, but this blog isn’t just about me and my running: it’s about helping YOU achieve your personal best in running, however you may define your personal best. Today, I wish to offer a single and valuable piece of advice for your running and fitness goals for 2016. Of course, this advice applies to all goals, whether in career, family, or the many other aspects of life.

For 2016, I want to see you set bold yet realistic goals.

Set Bold yet Realistic Goals for 2016

The best piece of advice I’ve ever encountered on running goals comes from Brad Hudson’s Run Faster from the 5K to Marathon (the book that’s my go-to for training right now). “In fact, I’m fond of saying that the best goal setters achieve their race time goals only half the time,” Hudson writes. “If you always achieve your goals, you are surely setting them to low. And if you never achieve your goals, clearly they are too ambitious.”

That’s right: aim to achieve your goals only 50% of the time. Strive for a balance between bold, of dreaming and setting your sights high, and realistic, where you work with what you have right now. Be both a dreamer and a doer. Throw yourself boldly into the pursuit of an accomplishment that’s beyond your reach and be realistic in how you pursue that goal.

There’s something utterly unnerving about being bold in your goals. To be bold, you must dispel fear of failure and embrace those times in which you will fall short. You must come to view unsuccessful attempts at your goals as stepping stones on your way to achievement and as little victories in their own right, because you still poured all you had into it and tried.

The truth is, I fell short of all of my major running goals in 2016. Yes, I ran a personal best for the half marathon and I finished my first marathon in 3:49:32. But that 1:43 in the half was not the 1:39 I trained for, nor did my marathon time punch a ticket to Boston. Do I regret setting those bold goals and pouring my time, energy, and passion into the pursuit of them? Not for a moment. In fact, I’m grateful for those missed goals. They set a fire of determination burning. They taught me not to give up, and they reminded me to always dream big.

To be realistic about goals is to respect your body, your schedule, and your limitations. You don’t want to drive your body into the ground through overtraining or injure yourself before you even cross the starting line. You do want goals that will help you grow as a person and nourish your confidence, not leaving you feeling deflated. Realistic goals have realistic plans for achievement; you do not want to set a goal to run a 3 hour marathon in one month when your current PR is 4 hours, nor is your goal realistic if it is not clearly defined. 

Yet here’s the catch about being realistic about your goals: most of us don’t set realistic goals, because we set our goals too low and hold ourselves back. You are often capable of more than you realize. To be realistic about your goals is to stop hiding behind fear and recognize just how much you can truly achieve when you dispel self-doubt and dedicate yourself to a goal. Don’t sell yourself short and set goals that are too attainable: you are only doing yourself a disservice. Fear of failure is something I frequently struggle to overcome, as I’m sure it is for many of you. But this fear isn’t realistic; as Ryan often reminds me, failure only happens when you don’t try.

This is why I started my own business as a running coach: to help runners set, train for, and achieve bold yet realistic goals, to help them surpasses their own self-imposed limitations while also training smartly and effectively. If you are determined to set bold goals and work towards them with a realistic plan in 2016, then consider working with me – I would love to help you achieve your personal best for 2016!

[Tweet “Be Bold Yet Realistic in Your 2016 Goals to Achieve Your Full Potential via @thisrunrecipes #fitfluential #sweatpink”]

Next Wednesday I’ll be talking about my own goals for 2016, and the final two Wednesday of the year will focus on more tips and resources for setting your 2016 goals. In January 2016, I’ll be offering a series with tips for achieving specific goals, such as a sub-2 hour half marathon or running your first marathon. Please let me know what goals you would like to see discussed!

Do you enjoy reading posts about goals and goal setting? What specific running related goal would you like to see addressed in a post?
How can you be bold in your goals for 2016?
Does fear of failure hold you back?

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24 Responses

    1. Setting goals and planning are such effective ways to overcome that fear of failure – having a plan helps so much. I’m excited to see what your 2016 goals are – you accomplished so much in 2015!

  1. When we were at Blogfest, the keynote speaker was a wrestling champion with one leg (already impressive) but he said something that has stuck with me regarding goals: Make it hard, but make it possible. Goals should lead us and inspire us when we can’t find the motivation within ourselves. Yes, they should scare us just a bit so that we move into action, but we must always believe that we can accomplish them!

  2. I can’t wait to see more of these posts! Goals are huge to me- both for running and working out, but all for life in general. One really big, bold goal that I’m shooting for is sub 4 in the marathon. I know that this is a big stretch goal, but also achievable if I work hard. Time to put in the work!

  3. I really don’t dream big and I’ll be the first to admit that. I try to set incremental goals that are attainable, I definitely don’t have a problem with being too ambitious in them. I guess I’d rather be surprised by success than have to admit I failed at a goal, and that’s why I set goals I will probably reach. I do hope to run a sub-1:40 half in 2016, and I’m close, but a 1:38 would be kinda nice too. I am a fan of setting multiple goals as well like that, because you just never know how a race will play out.

    1. I also like multiple goals for a race – there’s so many unpredictable factors, such as weather and crowds. I definitely think you can achieve a sub-1:40, even a 1:38, in 2016 – your racing this year has been so strong and you had a fast half on a hilly course!

  4. I can definitely relate with being a goal-driven person and feeling an absence of this after I finished my master’s program. Running came into my life at the perfect time because like you said, it brings this driven, goal-oriented part out of me again and its great. I admit that I do fear failure mostly around setting a goal that I won’t be able to accomplish right away. I am working on being patient with my process as a runner and remembering that growth takes time. I am looking forward to reading more about this topic in the coming weeks! It would be great to hear about the best approach for planning races… how often? What’s too much? When do you know you’re ready for the next big goal or your first marathon? Things like that :-). Hope you’re having a great week, Laura!

    1. Patience – yes! It is so valuable in goal setting and running yet so difficult to practice. Running is great at building virtues in us, isn’t it? I wrote down your ideas for planning races and for determining when you’re ready for a first marathon in my editorial calendar – thank you so much, Angie!

  5. Oh, I like what Brad Hudson says about 50%. That makes a lot of sense to me. My next goal is to run a sub-3 marathon and I know I’ll get it. I’m just not sure *when.* I just take each day one at a time, do my best, work hard, and hopefully it will pay off. I love setting goals too, making lists, all those organizational things. Love it.

    1. I know 1000% that you will achieve that sub-3! When is a great part of the journey, I find – it keeps goals interesting and keeps us engaged. And your approach is so right – they say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was in fact built one day at a time.

    1. Dreaming a little is always good! I like how you set aside time each month to reflect on goals – that builds commitment and accountability. Vision boards are a great idea – I never thought of using those!

  6. I met all my goals this year except for one–I didn’t get that BQ. It was a totally realistic goal for me (my BQ time is 4:00) and I trained really hard for it, but it just wasn’t in the cards that day. I thought I’d be disappointed about it, but I’m not at all! I did the best I could that day and I’m happy with how I hung in there that day. Sometimes it’s not about finish times, right?

    1. You had such rough weather for Chicago that day. You achieved so much and I’m so glad to hear that you’re proud of your marathon! It really isn’t always about finish times – those don’t always reflect the personal victories of training and racing!

  7. I love this and totally agree with it! I set goals that were way too lofty this year, and in turn I didn’t meet any of them, despite making some gains over the year. 2016 will involve some bigger goals again, but also more reasonable ones!

  8. I don’t know how I missed this post the other day! I think goals are great for some people so long as they don’t frustrate them or make them feel bad if they miss the “goal”. Goals are great for motivating people to continue and strive for something they want. I am not a goal setter, I don’t totally know why, I just never really set goals. I just try my best at whatever I do and when I am not trying my best, there’s usually a good reason. Does that make sense? lol

    1. I definitely agree – I am not the type to be frustrated by missed goals, but I know that some people are and would never want someone to set a goal that frustrates them. It’s great that you always try to do your best – that in itself is a wonderful continual goal! 🙂

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