How to Set SMART Running Goals


Happy day to you.

Being a runner, regardless of where you are in your “career”, is totally awesome.


It might not feel awesome all the time,

(example: the 6 mile suck-fest that I suffered through this weekend)…

It comes with struggles, setbacks, and a whole lot of picking yourself up and trying again.

A great way to stay on track through those struggles and setbacks is to set ACHIEVABLE goals.

If you have been following me for a while, you have probably figured out that I am very goal oriented (aka: Type A personality).

(See this post, this post, this post, and this post to catch up)

In the first post, I talked about how important it is to create goals.

Some people, I realize now, have not been gifted with the innate ability and need to set goals.

This is okay!

I am sure some of you are reading this and thinking, “Okay great… thanks for telling me how important it is, but how do I set achievable goals”?

Having a strategy is key.

A common acronym used when setting goals is SMART.

Let’s go through each letter to see how it applies to setting achievable running goals.

S – Specific

Create a specific goal. Being too general will tempt you to give up if challenges arise.

Bad example: “I want to run a race.”

Good example: “I want to complete a 5k race.”

M – Measurable

It’s hard to tell whether you have achieved your goal unless you can measure the progress. Use specific numbers or benchmarks.

Bad example: “I want to run far without stopping.”

Good example: “I want to run for an hour without stopping.”

A – Attainable

Be realistic with yourself. If you are a beginner to running, start small and work your way up to a larger goal. If you shoot too high, you may end up feeling defeated and discouraged when you find yourself struggling to complete each benchmark.

Bad example: “I want to run in the marathon next month.”

Good example: “I want to run in the San Francisco Marathon on July 30, 2017 so I can properly train.”

R – Relevant

Make sure the goal you set is a goal that matters to you. Is it relevant to your life? If you’re not jazzed about your goal, you will be much less likely to complete it.

Bad example: “I’m going to train for a trail 50k this fall.” (If you really don’t like trail running- which I don’t, by the way.)

Good example: “I’m going to run the 2nd half of San Francisco Half Marathon this year because the course is part of the San Francisco Marathon course that I will train for and run next year.”

T – Time bound

Set a time frame for achieving your goal. If you leave it open ended, you may find that you keep pushing off your progress. It is easy to fall into the mindset of “I’ll start tomorrow” instead of taking your goals seriously and aggressively. Commitment to a deadline is key! Plot out your training plan week by week, and reverse-engineer your plan step-by-step.

Bad example: “I want to run a half marathon someday.”

Good example: “I want to PR at the OC Half Marathon in May (which I do, by the way).”

The most important thing that I must stress is to plan your goals out.

Again, I know, not everyone is a planner.

But, I can promise you that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down and use the suggestions above.

It takes time, but in the end being organized and knowing where you want to go is worth it.


Now, let’s do something different here.

I would like to encourage everyone to set some SMART goals and email them to me.


I would like to put together a post about YOUR goals and what YOU want to achieve this year.

My hope is that we can encourage each other and get some team spirit going around here.

Let’s do this!


Let’s connect!

5 thoughts on “How to Set SMART Running Goals

  1. sloluckyruns says:

    Love the idea of smart goals! I would like to incorporate Track Tuesday into my workouts. So even if I ran that morning, head on over to the track in the PM for at least a half hour to work on some speed. I also have the goal of 160 miles in a month. That sure sticks with me and once I wrote that down, I knew I needed to stick with it. I also have a goal of getting more night time sleep, heading to bed earlier. Another one is adding hills into my runs; so at least one run a week has to incorporate hills.


  2. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? says:

    I love my SMART goals! I just learned about them at the end of last year and wrote some out for the #Last100Days of the year 🙂 I went ahead and wrote them out for the first half of this year – 3 for financial, 3 for fitness and 3 for personal betterment 🙂 Plus, this is the first time (EVER) that I’ve set running goals! I’m excited!

    Liked by 1 person

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