Goal setting and the beginning of a new year often go hand in hand. But with the current restrictions cutting into our training why not take this time now as an opportunity to reassess your running goals?

‘No way.’

I know for sure what my response would have been if you’d had told me at the beginning of the year that by March I’d be confined indoors, sending an SMS for permission to go out for a limited time plus running with my passport.

But we have had to conform to these restrictions and found we can and so we have.

There’s been an inevitable surge in reading and watching movies but also baking and many other crafts. I’ve learnt some amazing things on YouTube that I want to have a go at. Things like foraging, wild camping, fastpacking and the like.

But when this terrible crisis does finally end and before you launch outdoors again, arms windmilling to rejoin your running buddies and groups, take time to recalibrate; think carefully about where you are now and where you want to go.

Re-evaluating your running goals from time to time is always a good thing and the situation we’re in at the moment is the perfect time to do this.

Why Reassess? 

We runners are pretty accomplished at goal setting, not because we possess any special skills but because we love it. We can be obsessive about them, often with great success but sometimes to the point of burnout or injury.

At other times we do the same old. When I first got into running I had ‘5K PB’ as my goal for ages. My goal list became the same list, a repeat of the year before. I didn’t realise that to achieve that goal I’d have to do more than rock out a regular 5K. I had the goal because my running buddies had the same one. That’s not a bad thing of course as having support is fantastic but it wasn’t my goal. It didn’t really excite me so I didn’t spend much time researching how I was actually going to achieve it; I was clueless about the different training sessions involved. In fact, in stark similarity to the situation we’re in now, I finally ditched that goal when I fell over and was confined indoors for a while. I had time to think.

I found myself wanting a new challenge, the same old road runs day in and day out just weren’t doing it for me.

As a runner, having multiple goals – 5K PB, marathon, going from track to road to trail – usually means you won’t get the best from yourself in any of them. Success comes from focus.

And I had to decide what I wanted to focus on.

How to Reassess Your Running Goals

Look at what you had planned for this year. Many of our immediate goals have been taken out of our hands due to race cancellations and postponements.

How much do these goals still mean to you? Do they still challenge and excite you?

Don’t think of it in terms of failure if you decide you no longer want to pursue that 100K Ultra. Reassessing is not giving up. It’s redirecting your focus and energy.

Maybe you want to go shorter and faster? Or quit sprinting everywhere and aim for a long distance challenge? Or make the switch from road to trail? We have so many amazing choices; find the one that you’re PASSIONATE about.

Whatever it is, make sure you’re going to enjoy it.

My big goal for 2020 was a 50K at Race to the Stones. I knew before it was officially cancelled that I was probably running out of time to get the training in. Even so, I still felt the punch of disappointment when the inevitable email dropped into my inbox. This was my one big goal for the year and although I had other races lined up that have now been cancelled, they were pretty much all stepping stones in my 50K training.

To be honest I was actually forced to re-examine my goals because next year I have a big birthday coming up and I’ve already made plans for that. So of the race postponements which go into next year, I needed to decide which goals to keep and which to ditch once the restrictions are lifted.

Yet again we’ve had a stark reminder of how fragile, interconnected and precious life is and I guess in response I plan to pepper my overall training with some no pressure, hilarity-guaranteed fun runs.

Before I began my 50K training a few experienced ultrarunners impressed on me the importance of doing some long distance hiking, stressing that this would ensure valuable ‘time on my feet’ and significantly improve my long distance races. I gave it a go. Before I ever broke into any running at all I spent 2 months hiking, progressively covering 20K, 25K, 30K, 35K, 40K and 45K in a day. I’m convinced it helped enormously in getting my body used to just keep on keeping on … but of course I won’t get to actually do my 50K this year so who knows…

Hiking Pointe du Raz, Finistere

However, I now have a new goal to incorporate regular hiking into my training and I’m just deciding how, when and where I’ll do that.

This is a goal I can work on now. The current distance and time restrictions on going outdoors led me to again reconsider some shorter distance training. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a 5K time goal in the past but having no idea what I was doing, I soon lost interest and motivation.

Recently, I’ve started following the 5 Sessions to Make You a Faster 5K Runner advice from Holly Rush and I’m absolutely loving it! After months of leaving the house knowing that my training was going to eat into the best part of 2 hours, this totally different short, focussed training has given me a new lease of life. Yes, admittedly it was enforced by circumstances a little but I’m so very glad I actually sat down and took a long, hard look at my goal list.

So take a look over your goals - even if you decide to stick with them you'll still get a nice buzz at what you've got lined up  ... soon! 

written by

Karen Guttridge

Small business owner from Ringwood

Age group: 60-64

My Disciplines
10 KM Strength training Ultra marathon Ultra trail run

More blogs