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Goal Setting

Goal Setting – Are You Being Realistic?

Setting yourself goals when running is a brilliant way to stay motivated and make sure you build on positive habits. Unfortunately many runners are unrealistic with their goal setting and end up risking injury, or giving up in frustration! Knowing what kind of goals to set, and knowing how to see what goals are unrealistic are two of the most important factors. With this in mind, it is also natural to aim for the sky, these goals give you something to aspire towards (just not too quickly).

 

It is important to remember that you are less likely to achieve your goals if you don’t enjoy the process. Rather than focusing entirely on the process, make sure that you celebrate every improvement. Approaching each hurdle with a positive attitude will help no end!

 

Tip 1: Write down your goals

Studies have shown that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Thinking about a goal is only part of the process, by writing it down it makes the thought all the more real. Write it down, reflect on it, adapt it to fit your schedule. Look at it every day to reinforce it.

 

Tip 2: Be Specific

If your goal is to “be a better runner”, how will you know when you have achieved it? Vague goals only discourage because you never feel any closer to the finish line. By setting a goal such as “I want to improve my time in the next marathon by 2 minutes” is specific. Use tangible words in your goals such as measurements, and maybe even a date that you will have succeeded by.

 

Tip 3: Measure Actions as well as Progress

As well as setting goals based on how fast you can run, or how long you can run for, consider setting goals on how often you will train, or exercise. By tracking your actions you can make sure that you are getting up and out of the house, rather than just focusing on the numbers. This approach can be very useful for tackling vague goals. Goals such as “Run for half an hour a day” is better than “Be fitter by the summer”.

 

Realistic Goals

Run every other day

You might say to yourself “Im going to run every day for the next month”. Don’t do it! You will wear yourself out and be less likely to pick yourself back up afterwards. Instead allow yourself a chance to build up your stamina and fitness before jumping all in.

 

Finish a minute faster

Instead of aiming immediately for a 6 minute mile, see how quickly you run a mile on an average day and try to speed that up each run. Every run try and finish 10-15 seconds faster than the previous. This healthy competition with yourself allows you to better your time, without being unrealistic.

 

If you have any tips on setting goals, let me know in the comments below!

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Running right

The Three Biggest Running Form Mistakes

For many, the beauty of running is the simplicity. Back to basics, two feet on the ground, run to clear your head. Unfortunately if your technique is wrong, each run will feel like a chore and  your body will be less efficient.

 

There are hundreds of articles and posts that will try and walk you through the perfect form, step by step (pun intended), but if you are like me and you just want to know how not to hurt yourself whilst enjoying a run, then these three points should help get you on track to improving your running form…

 

Slow Cadence

In simple terms, cadence is how often your feet touch the ground. The average runner will have a cadence of 160 – 170 steps per minute, this means the runner is over-striding which encourages heel striking and poor posture. Your foot should make contact with the ground directly below, rather than in front of your body. A higher cadence such as 180 foot strikes per minute will help this.

 

Tip: Set a metronome to 180bpm (beats per minute) and try to run to the beat (or for more enjoyment find music with that tempo. Hey Ya – Outcast is one of few…)

 

Unrelaxed Upper Body

Don’t be so tense! A build up of tension in your upper body and face can cause stiffer movement in your arms, shoulders and legs. This stiffness is a runners worst nightmare, it is inefficient! If you take a look at almost every world class runner, each one looks relaxed when they run, thus allowing themselves to be more in control. This control not only allows for a better run, but a more enjoyable, less stressful experience.

 

Tip: Keep your hands loose and below your chest, make sure you don’t punch forwards and throw off your gait. At every 1/2 mile raise your shoulders to your ears and squeeze tight for 15 seconds. This relaxes the muscle by contracting it hard.

 

Lack of Mobility

Mobility is the ability to move your joints freely. This is the most important element when trying to run fast and stay healthy. Partial range of movement in your joints can be from a variety of reasons: previous injury, tight muscles, or sedentary lifestyle.  If your lower body lacks a range of motion expect a higher risk of injury to follow.

 

Tip: Incorporate dynamic stretches into your warm up. Dynamic stretches are rhythmic in nature (think arm circles), and prepare the body for the run. This type of stretching will also maintain body temperature and reduce stress on the body.

 

Overall tip: If you have been running for years and have never had any problems with injury or recurring aches and pains there is probably no need to change your form. Runners with experience tend to become less efficient when they make changes to their form.

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