Lesson 14 of 19
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Goal setting

Goal setting is a fundamental practice that can transform a your experience on the trails from a mere physical activity to an adventure of a lifetime. Especially if you are into ultra trail running, setting goals can make or break your experiences on the trails. You are wondering how? Keep on reading then.

1. Motivation and Focus:

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals gives runners a clear purpose. Whether it’s completing a challenging trail, achieving a personal best time, or mastering a difficult terrain, these goals provide motivation and focus during training and races. 

If you are training for an ultra trail, you will have a long preparation period thus dividing this period in smaller goals will help you to stay motivated. 

2. Progress tracking:

Goals serve as benchmarks for progress and can be literally anything. From running and entire segment uphill to improving your quickness over difficult terrain, trail running has a lot of difficult kinds of goals you can focus on to improve. Trail runners can track their training achievements and monitor their improvements over time by keeping a logbook of their goals and what their performances are. This not only boosts confidence but also provides valuable insights into what training methods are effective and where a little bit more attention and effort should be put. 

Example of how this can look like:

Download this template so you can use it too here.

3. Enhanced discipline:

Having goals can help runners structure their training plans. Knowing what they are working toward allows them to plan their workouts strategically, incorporating specific exercises and techniques that align with their objectives. If they notice that some area of their trainings need more attention (for example quickness or leg strength), this can be discovered through setting up goals. If the goal is reached, it means sufficient effort was put into the job. If the goal wasn’t reached, it’s a good signal that will tell you that you need to work a little bit harder for the desired result. 

4. Increased commitment:

If you share your goals with others, you will hold yourself more accountability. Sharing them with a running group, coach, or even on social media creates a sense of commitment to achieve what you said you would do. 

However, I would like to add to this that if you start feeling an injury coming up that you should be able to listen to your body and set aside your goals. A healthy body always comes first. 

5. Boosting Confidence:

As runners achieve their smaller goals, they build confidence in their abilities. This self-belief not only helps in achieving current goals but also sets the stage for tackling more significant, long-term objectives such as for example an ultra trail. 

6. Celebrate your achievements:

Achieving set goals, no matter how small, provides a sense of accomplishment. Celebrating these victories reinforces the idea that hard work pays off, encouraging runners to set new, more ambitious goals.

Another side note that I would like to add is that after the accomplishment of a long-term goal it is advisable to take some rest. I know it is very tempting to keep on going, especially when you have all this adrenaline racing through your body, but in the long-term it is better to take a break. More about this in the chapter ‘How to avoid burnout’