A Wife Loved Like The Church

Setting a Finish Goal – Tips for Beginning Runners

Posted on: August 14, 2012

My personal mantra is :: The hardest part of running is starting. It’s a phrase I think every time I run {especially at 0’dark thirty}. That’s why I stress the need for you to have a goal to push you. Honestly, your goal can be whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t need to be what your friends say, what I say, what a trainer says. Your goal needs to be personal, something that pushes you, makes you proud.

For ease sake, I’m going to talk about setting a goal to run a 5K {that’s 3.1 miles}. Why? Because that is the first real race distance and one I believe every able body can accomplish. Also, since I’m addressing beginning runners, I’m going to focus on finishing the race as a goal, rather than focus on time oriented goals. If you’re interested in setting PRs {personal records}, let me know and I can direct you to some really good information.


Racing for the finish ::


Let me preface – There is nothing wrong in just wanting to finish a race. You don’t need to set personal records, you don’t need to beat a clock. If your goal is to finish {without dying along the way} that is a perfectly acceptable goal {and one I have set several times myself}. With a “just finish” goal, you will also need to set a perimeter on that goal, i.e. to finish without walking, to finish with only X amount of breaks, etc. Once you have your perimeters set, start running.

There are lots of great training programs for 5Ks. The most popular is Cool Running’s Couch to 5K. The great thing about C25K is that they have you alternating walking and jogging. Why is that so important? First, it helps build stamina. Second, it sets a good pace. The last thing you want is to start your running career running hard and fast. You won’t last long because you’ll either injure yourself or get totally burned out. Even now, I can tell if I’ve started a run off too fast – and I almost always regret it {either through being overly tired, or having to stop short of my daily goal}.

Another great program is Hal Higdon’s 5K. He has several to chose from, ranging from walking to performance running. I personally am using Hal’s training program for an upcoming half and for my marathon in February. But, my best advice is to find a program that helps ease you into the world of running, fits your schedule and helps challenge you.

Now, just because I said earlier that you shouldn’t start off fast, does not mean you shouldn’t push yourself. If you know you can run faster, run faster. If you know you can run farther, run farther. But be smart about it. Slowly increase your speed and mileage. A rule of thumb in running is that you should only increase your mileage {or run time} by 10% a week. This allows your body to adjust to its new workout and helps prevent injury {which is every runners nightmare}. A good personal example is that when I train for a longer race, I typically only add 1 additional mile a week. I’ve been known to add two, but only if I feel like my body can handle the adjustment.

Just remember – Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t come out, guns blazing, expecting to shoot down the track. Instead, pace yourself, listen to your body {if it tells you you can speed up or need to slow down} and focus on your goal – the finish line.

Next week, I’m going to be address the moms – how do I fit in running with kids, what my run schedule looks like, and why I think all moms should run.

*Disclaimer: All tactics/tips are my own personal opinions and not medically backed. Please seek medical advice before starting any running program.

3 Responses to "Setting a Finish Goal – Tips for Beginning Runners"

Great post and great points! Now that I think about it I used Hal’s plan loosely the last time I ran a half, about 3 year ago. But, for now I’m just starting and want to run 30 (SLOW) minutes at least 3 times/week. Thanks again for this series and the way it is encouraging me.

I like Hal’s because he works in weight training to some of his programs, which is right now is something I really want to keep concentrating on during training.

When I added weight type training (core classes) to my running program it was SO helpful and made a huge difference. Probably something you’re seeing now.

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