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Goal-Setting for Runners: Conquer 2024

As we stand on the cusp of 2024, it’s an exciting time to chart out our paths for the year ahead. But before we dive into setting our goals, let’s have a quick chat about two types of goals that will be central to our journey: event goals and process goals. Understanding these will help us craft a more effective and fulfilling running plan.

Let’s break down our goals into two categories: event goals and process goals.

Event Goals: The Big Targets

Event goals are your headline-makers. They’re those exciting, specific achievements you’re aiming for – like finishing a major race, hitting a new personal record, or conquering a challenging course. These are the goals that get your heart racing and give you a clear, tangible target. When you think about these the butterflies flutter in your stomach.

Process Goals: The Everyday Steps

On the flip side, process goals are the building blocks. They’re about the daily efforts and improvements – think increasing your weekly mileage, fine-tuning your running technique, or strengthening your mental resilience, getting nutrition dialled in. These goals might not grab the headlines, but they’re crucial for making your event goals a reality.

Combining these two types of goals ensures a well-rounded approach. Your event goals give you something exhilarating to aim for, while your process goals focus on the day-to-day progress that will get you there.

Embracing SMART Goal Setting

Now that we have a clear picture of event and process goals, let’s apply the SMART framework to them. SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound – are a powerful way to bring structure and clarity to both your event and process aspirations.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relatable

T – Time-Bound

SMART goals are those that bring clarity and focus to your running aspirations. They are Specific, meaning your objectives are clearly defined, whether it’s improving your race times, conquering new trails, or increasing your weekly running distance. They are Measurable, allowing you to track your progress with quantifiable metrics like target times, distances, or workout frequencies.

Your goals should also be Achievable. This is where we strike a balance between ambition and realism. Your goals should stretch you, taking you out of your comfort zone, yet remain within the realm of possibility with consistent effort and determination. They need to be Relevant, aligning with your broader ambitions and personal values as a runner. Each goal you set should not just be a milestone but a meaningful step towards your larger running journey.

Finally, make your goals Time-bound. Setting a realistic timeline keeps you focused and driven. Whether it’s aiming for a personal best in the upcoming season, planning for a year-long progression, or setting a date for a specific race, a deadline instills a sense of urgency and purpose in your training.

In setting these SMART goals, remember, balance is the key. We aim to find goals that challenge yet are attainable, pushing you just enough while remaining achievable with dedication and effort. As your coach, I’m here to help you navigate this balance, ensuring your goals inspire you to new heights and are grounded in what’s realistically achievable.

Continuing Your SMART Journey into 2024

As we move beyond setting these foundational SMART goals, it’s essential to reflect on how they fit into your overall running narrative. Think of your goals not just as checkpoints but as chapters in your ongoing story as a runner. This perspective allows you to appreciate each step of your journey, understanding that every goal, big or small, is part of a larger tapestry of personal growth and achievement.

The Importance of Flexibility in Goal Setting

While it’s crucial to set specific and time-bound goals, flexibility is equally important. As a coach, I’ve seen how unexpected circumstances – be it an injury, personal commitments, or changes in motivation – can impact your running journey. So, as we step into 2024, let’s remember to hold our goals with a gentle firmness. Be willing to adapt and recalibrate your goals as life unfolds. This adaptability is not a sign of weakness but a testament to your resilience and commitment to your long-term running journey.

Celebrating Every Milestone

As we focus on celebrating each achievement in your running journey, let’s also embrace practical tools that can aid in this process. Utilizing platforms like Strava and Training Peaks is a fantastic way to set, monitor, and celebrate your progress. These tools not only help you track your workouts and improvements but also allow you to set specific goals within the app, adding an extra layer of accountability and motivation.

One particularly effective process goal you can set is aiming for 100% compliance with your training plan. This goal isn’t just about ticking off workouts; it’s about commitment to your running journey and giving yourself the best chance to achieve your broader goals. By aiming for full compliance, you minimize the risk of self-sabotage and maximize your potential for success.

Training Peaks, for instance, offers a compliance feature, allowing you to monitor how closely you’re sticking to your planned training. This constant feedback can be incredibly motivating, helping you stay on track and adjust as needed. Similarly, setting goals on Strava, like weekly mileage or elevation gain, provides you with clear targets and lets you celebrate when you hit them.

Remember, these milestones, no matter how small they might seem, are crucial. They represent your dedication, progress, and the small steps that lead to big achievements. So, use these tools to your advantage, set your compliance goal, and let’s celebrate each step forward, knowing that each one brings you closer to your overarching aspirations.

Looking Beyond – Long-Term Aspirations

As we focus on 2024, let’s also cast our eyes further into the future. What are your long-term aspirations as a runner? Perhaps it’s running an ultra-marathon, participating in a prestigious international race, or simply enjoying running well into the later years of your life. By aligning your yearly goals with these long-term aspirations, you create a coherent and motivating path forward. This long-term vision will guide you through the ups and downs, keeping you anchored in your passion for running.

Your Journey, Our Support

As we conclude this guide to goal setting, remember that the journey is uniquely yours, but you are not alone in it. The Mindful Runner community and our coaches, are here to support, guide, and celebrate with you every step of the way. Your goals for 2024, set with intention and pursued with passion, are not just about running – they’re about building a life of fulfillment, challenge, and joy.

Let’s embark on this journey together, setting our sights on a year of growth, achievement, and mindful running.


I encourage you to share your goals, reflections, and aspirations with our community. Let’s inspire and support each other as we all stride forward into a promising and exciting new year. Here’s to a fantastic 2024, filled with achievements, learning, and unforgettable running experiences!

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