Set yourself some goals and get ready for a fabulous 2023

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Whether it’s signing up for a Couch to 5k programme, joining a RunTogether running group or targeting your first parkrun, goal setting can play a big role in that process.

Of course for much of the time, we do it all subconsciously and targets - get up at 7am in time for work - are not much more than everyday routines.

But when you take on a new challenge like running 5k or joining a RunTogether group it pays to understand exactly what goal setting is all about and how it can help you achieve the things you have targeted – be that your first 5k, a personal best in the spring, or finishing that elusive long loop that everyone else seems to be able to complete.

Plus, simply setting a target to aim at is not only massively rewarding, it’s hugely important when it comes to our own mental well-being. Setting a goal activates a network of neurons located in the brain stem that mediate behaviour and programme new patterns which will then put you on the road for the year ahead in a positive manner.

So, what are you waiting for? Set yourself some goals and get ready for a fabulous 2023. Your positive neurons are waiting and ready for action.

*And there’s even more great news: simply being involved with RunTogether is the perfect starting point for all of this. The camaraderie and expertise that Run Leaders and fellow runners provide at any meeting, on any run means there's superb back-up on hand all the time to help you achieve the goals of dreams.

Plans to put in place

These will be very individual but there are a few plans you should put in place to make sure you give yourself every chance to succeed.

Top Tip 1

Split your goals into smaller segments which encourage you to celebrate your wins and progress, giving you inner-confidence and self-belief.

Your first running week completed? Treat yourself to some running socks. Reward is essential in all of this and RunTogether is a group that knows all about that. Run Leaders and your fellow runners are only too happy to cheer you on whether it’s for that first five minutes of running without stopping or completing that hilly loop around town without walking on the hills.

This kind of positive domino effect will make you feel like things are more achievable; five minutes will become 10 miles; a hilly loop will become a half marathon. Trust us, it will happen! RunTogether is all about that and so much more.

The key to this is setting goals which can be ‘chunked up’ and chunked down’. Put simply, this means breaking down bigger goals and aspirations into more bite-size goals that you can hit and surpass. That 'faster 5k than last year' aim might mean dedicating an extra day a week to running with friends for at least six weeks. That simple addition to your regular week, for instance, will provide you with better strength, endurance, and dedication, ready to have a go at running a bit faster.

Easy! Plus, doing this will help you to feel a sense of achievement that inspires you to carry on and make the big changes you’ve set out to make.

Top Tip 2

We love this one! This is the handprint goal setting model which is one of the most effective ways of setting goals.

To use this model, trace around your handprint and then draw 4 lines across each finger adding percentages 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100%. Write your goal in the centre and then ask yourself the 5 things which are critical in helping you to achieve this goal and write these points at the top of each finger.And remember, they don’t all have to be time or distance goals. Run Leaders, for instance, will be keen to encourage us all back after a sporadic year. Maybe that involves creating a WhatsApp group to shout out encouragement as each runner returns. Anything and everything can work.

Then, shade in the percentage point on each finger, illustrating how close you are to achieving the each of those things and thus the main goal you’ve set yourself. This will give you a visual representation of how close you are to your main goal and the things you need to work on.

Top Tip 3

Nothing is more demotivating that unrealistic goals. Being realistic in your goal setting is crucial for success.

Take time to set your goals and really think about what it is you want to achieve and why. You are the only one that can determine just how substantial your goal should be, but you should ensure there is a realistic chance that given the right circumstances, you are able to achieve it.

But remember, that RunTogether group will once again be key to all of this. Share the workload and it will become so much easier. Tell your family and friends you run with about your goals and this will help you develop a support system to give you a push. Surround yourself with constant encouragement from those who are following your progress. Which translates as: Join a RunTogether group, go for a run with friends, and share your running experiences.

Simple, that’s the first goal sorted!

Top Tip 4

RunTogether is key for all of this to happen in 2023 and beyond.

The expertise on hand will be there to help as you decide what path you want to tackle in the next 12 months. You want to improve your diet? Every group has amazing first-hand experience of this. Improve your times? Your Run Leader is on hand to help! You just want to be able to run comfortably, chatting with friends for half an hour feeling safe and secure – the best goal of all? RunTogether’s expertise is here to help.

Emotional Intelligence

*We spoke to Emotional Intelligence Guru Jim Rees, who has competed in Ironman Triathlons around the world and in The Race Across America four times. His new book is called ‘Vicious Cycle’ in which Jim uses his 20 odd years of experience to help others overcome obstacles in their life.

First published January 2022

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