Are Your Running Goals S.M.A.R.T?

By: Brian Elder

When setting goals, whether for yourself individually or for a collective group, it is important that the goals are S.M.A.R.T. In the past I set goals that were not S.M.A.R.T. and my performance suffered because of it. You might be wondering what does S.M.A.R.T. stand for or what are S.M.A.R.T. goals?






It is important for your goals to be SMART and to give you an example of how to test this let’s put this method to the test and see if my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon was a SMART goal…

The Goal: Qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Peak to Creek Marathon on October 25th by running less than a 3 hour and 5 minute marathon time.


-          My goal was extremely specific on not only what my goal was but how and when I planned to complete it by qualifying.

Measurable: ✓

- The goal is very measurable as I have a training log to track my progress and weekly miles.

- One issue I had was finding a training plan to commit to which hurt my ability to measure the goal. Without a proper training program, you are more likely to drop runs that are scheduled. This happened during my training.

Attainable: X

- This is where the problems really begin. Because I am finishing my last semester of college, I want to focus on making good grades to finish with a strong GPA and with another full course load it is difficult to train as much as I would like. Working another 20 to 30 hours a week on top of school makes it even more difficult.

Relevant: X

- Relevant goals mean that you are both willing and able to complete it. I was willing but with work and class combined with other outside activities it has been difficult to be able to find time to train.

Timely: ✓

- The goal was set within a time frame. The problem was that this summer I did not get in enough weekly miles to build a strong base for marathon training. Assuming I still have a base from a year before is unrealistic.

Are your goals SMART?

If so, great! If not there is no reason to beat yourself up over it.

There is time to change and improve for the future. That is what I plan to do. I am going to train in the winter when I am able to focus on training after I graduate in December. This will also allow me to use my qualifying time for two years and not set me back any further than running Boston 2016 which is what I had planned for originally. By rearranging my goals to be SMART for the spring of 2015 I will hopefully find greater and future success.

Time to refocus and keep running more miles! 

Brian Elder is a learner, amateur explorer, and nomadic runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere. He is a senior at the University of Georgia studying English and Religion.  After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels with an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive.  Follow Brian on Instagram.