The Value Of Annual Goal Setting For Runners

AJW’s goals for 2016.

By on January 8, 2016 | Comments

AJWs TaproomThis time of year many of us go through the ritual of making promises to ourselves and others about what we resolve to do or change in the year ahead. While I, myself, am not much of a New Year’s resolution type, I have, for the past several years spent the first week after New Year’s Day assessing my past and addressing the future.

In that context, I also have taken to creating specific goals in four ‘buckets’ that I choose to spend the year focusing on. This year I have shared those goals with several of my friends in an effort to maintain accountability. I have also urged some of the ultrarunners I am currently coaching to do the same.

For me, setting achievable and aspirational goals that have both short- and long-term parameters is key. For the purpose of simplicity, I always start with a set of three to four Short-Term Numerical Goals. These are specific goals with specific numerical outcomes attached. Usually, since they are short-term, I like to place a six- to eight-month timeline on this first set of goals. For me, typically, goals in this bucket have to do with weight, diet, target-training times, or life habits. Here are this year’s three:

  1. Weigh in at 165 pounds on April 1.
  2. Walk/hike an average of 40 miles per week through March 1.
  3. Attend at least two strength classes a week through June 1.

The next bucket is for Short-Term General Goals. Similar to the numerical goals, these are on a six- to eight-month timeline. However, in contrast, they are not necessarily tied to a specific number and are more generative and qualitative in nature. For 2016, here are my four goals in this bucket:

  1. I am a classic ‘more is better’ person and need to make sure that I keep my eye on the prize, which is Hardrock in July, by not overdoing anything too early.
  2. Keep work/life schedule as clear as possible so that I can fit in maximal training around work and family. This year more than ever I need to say no to things that aren’t essential.
  3. Endeavor to sleep eight hours per night.
  4. Don’t spend too much time on social media.

After the short-term goals exercise, I typically take a few days to re-focus on long-term goals. These can be goals that stretch out as long as one and two years and can be, in the words of Jim Collins, author of Good To Great, “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” or “BHAGs” for short. These, too, are made up of a numerical bucket and a general bucket and follow a similar pattern to the short-term goals.

For 2016, my Long-Term Numerical Goals are:

  1. Mileage — Hike/Run 1,900 miles before Hardrock. Hit 2,000 for the year at the race!
  2. Time — Commit at least 15 hours per week to training through April. Twenty to 25 hours per week in May/early June. Thirty-plus hours per week on the weeks of June 10 and June 18 (Silverton training camp).
  3. Elevation — Climb 350,000 feet before Hardrock.
  4. Weight — Start Hardrock at 159 pounds. I weighed 163 when I ran it in 2009. Lowest starting weight ever for an ultra was 161 at Western States in 2005. As of January 4, I weigh 171.
  5. Race Goals — Sub-30 hours at Hardrock.

And finally, here are my Long-Term General Goals:

  1. Savor my return to running and practice what I preach, specifically patience and just enjoying the fact that I can run at all.
  2. Really focus on climbing power and efficiency.
  3. Build up sensibly both in the next five weeks before I am cleared to fully run on February 15 and especially after my return to running.
  4. Continue to focus on strength and balance by maintaining a strict, three-days-a-week regimen of strength and flexibility work. This is something I have neglected for years.
  5. Integrate cross training, specifically long sets of Stair Master intervals, into my training regimen at least two days per week.

I understand that everyone is a little different and people respond to goal setting in different ways at different times. However, I have found that setting up some targets–ambitious and yet achievable–can be immensely rewarding in the long run.

Here’s hoping everyone has a great 2016…

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Boneyard Beer Hop VenomThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from a Taproom fave, Boneyard Beer in Bend, Oregon. Their classic west-coast-style Double IPA Hop Venom has been making waves across the Northwest over the past few months and rightfully so. While it has the typical hard frontal hops that most beers in this variety have, it also has a much gentler finish with an almost flowery aftertaste.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

With the Trail Sisters sharing their resolutions and goals for 2016 earlier this week and now AJW sharing his, would you like to put yours out there as well?

Tagged: ,
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.