Tim Bergsten created this Ning Network.

Yep, it's that time of year where we think about what we wanted to achieve last year and what we hope to get out of the next. It's definitely a process, and one we should think about more often than once a year.

I was curious about the goals of the attendees at last Tuesday's JQRC/PPC holiday bash so I set up a white board and a notebook. I love the results. We had a lot of athletic goals and goals that will improve quality of life and happiness. Who wouldn't want more fun time with a goal of "to play with my dogs more often" or to simply just "be alive." These goals were written by people of all ages. "Beatin (sic) my mom in  a 5k" was by a young runner.

Here are the goals that were written down in the notebook:

  • To not regift my fat to myself   
  • Run the Super Bowl Half Marathon
  • To start cross training (yoga)
  • Another 100 mile run
  • Do an Adventure Race
  • Beat my cousin at the O2O
  • Run the GOG 10 miler!
  • Run a sub-30:00 5k!!
  • Do a half marathon
  • Complete a marathon in less than 4:20

So indeed we were at a party with a bunch of runners so the goals are focusing around health and fitness. And the reason we set goals like this is because how how it will make us feel when we accomplish it.

You may have heard of SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound). It's not a new method; it's a solid method that has withstood the test of time.

Running time goals are specific and measureable. Make sure that your time goal is attainable within the time frame you set. This isn't always easy...sometimes we underestimate our abilities and sometimes we overestimate. A coach can certainly help you determine if a time goal is attainable. Relevant just means it's related to something important - the result will help you along your path. Time-bound means setting a deadline. Don't let the goal float out there, set a deadline and set your actions to get it done.

Let's put this in perspective of one of the goals above:

Run a sub-30:00 5k

This is specific and measureable, either with a timing chip or a watch. We could make it more specific and add in the time-bound component by picking the actual event, say the 2014 5k on St. Patrick's Day (personally my favorite 5k in town!) Is it attainable? Let's assume there last 5k was 31:30. A sub-30:00 would most likely be attainable. Relevant? If this athlete enjoys the benefits of running and wants to improve, it's definitely relevant.

But you can't just set a goal, you need actions and steps to get you there. How many times a week will you run? What will the workouts look like? How will you manage recovery? Who is going to help hold you accountable. Lay out a plan of action for each week and stick to it. If it is important to you, you will find a way. We often think about what we want to achieve, but never take any steps to get there.

If that describes you, think about what's been holding you back? Is it mental? Are you not making the time for it? Think about your priorities and why you want to achieve that goal. If it means that much, you will get it done. Find someone to help you if you struggle with this. Or make it known! Social media can actually help people achieve goals because it's out there and we want to show the world we can get it done!

A final tip to help you achieve goals is to make the small step changes. We know the people who resolve to start working out on January 1, get the gym membership, go everyday for two weeks, get exhausted, and by early February they have stopped going. Here's how to fix that.

Say your goal is to remove refined foods from your diet. If you go cold turkey, you might struggle because it's such a drastic change to your everyday habits. Make small changes! If you eat a lot of refined foods, you'll most likely have a lot of meals to find replacement calories (though the protein from cold turkey would be an option!) Start by changing one snack. Replace your 10:30am soda with green or black tea. Do that for a week. The next week replace the cereal for breakfast with greek yogurt, nuts and berries. Do that for a week. Within 2 months (which really is not that long) you will have made significant changes to your diet and wonder how you even ate the other stuff in the first place!

The one and only Tim Bergsten above is pointing to his goal, which is to run consistently. I will challenge him to define consistent and we'll all keep an eye on him!

One of the reasons I enjoy coaching, because I love helping people achieve their athletic goals. I assist with the goal setting process, make sure things are realistic and put together the plan to make it attainable. And the smile on the faces of the athlete when the goal is achieved is priceless.

In the comments below, share your goal for 2014 and how you will get there. This community here will support you!

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Comment by Nicole Odell on January 17, 2014 at 7:49pm

Congrats, Shelley! And glad you liked the post!

Comment by Shelley Hitz on January 17, 2014 at 2:22pm

Great post!  I wrote out my goals at the beginning of the year and then set small steps in how I can reach them.  One of my goals was to run 100 miles in a month and I might even meet that one this very first month!  :)

Comment by Nicole Odell on December 18, 2013 at 12:52pm

That is speedy, Michael!! Keep us posted on your training and results!

Comment by Michael Scott Stephens on December 18, 2013 at 12:03pm

break 30 min in the bolder boulder 10k at the end of may ;)  Hallelujah!  

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