Your “WHY” ensures that you have direction, and maintains motivation, particularly when things get tough or challenging, and provides focus. It ensures you will stick with the programme, reduces the chance of overdoing things (a risky scenario), and prevents injury.
To figure out your WHY, ask yourself these questions;
Write down your answers. It is not being negative. It is being realistic and anticipating future stressors or problems and the potential bonus of great support.
-What do you want to achieve? One specific event, or a series of events leading to an ultimate goal?
-Who are you doing this for? Is it only you, or are there significant others involved in your journey and the outcomes? Think of them and how they might be affected and how they might affect you? An essential aspect to consider.
-What will bridge the gap between what you want to achieve and where you are now? You are in control of crossing this proverbial bridge.
-What emotions do you anticipate as you achieve your milestones? As you achieved running milestones in the past, think back to what you felt.
Draw on these feelings as they build the resilience and strength that will benefit and motivate you in the future. As they are experienced and created by you, they are real and, therefore, achievable. You may be moving from a 10 KM to a half marathon or a half to a full marathon; it is possible and should not be feared. It is about identifying your “WHY” that will make it real, much more manageable and very specific.
Once you have identified your ‘WHY,’ write down your goals. Correctly defined goals are limitless. When setting out your goals, being SMART will ensure your success in your running journey.
Your goal should have a clear and very specific endpoint to ensure it is SMART. For example, I would like to complete my first 50 KM at the XNRG Humanity Direct challenge in July 2021.
You need to accurately track your progress to judge when a goal will be met. For example, I want to complete my first 50 KM in July 2021.
Setting a goal that’s too ambitious is a recipe for failure; it will sap your motivation, both now and in the future. Ensure you progressively build towards your challenge. A 50 KM trail ULTRA is a good starting point. However, the MDS as your first ULTRA challenge is achievable if you can devote the time and commitment.
The goal you pick should be pertinent and realistic in your chosen field. Position targets are out of your control, as you do not know the entire field. Instead, create a realistic goal such as, “I will push hard and compete with those around me.” Creating time windows is more realistic than aiming for a specific time. I will complete the event in 11-12 hours.
Finally, Ensure your goal has a specific timeframe; it helps quantify it further. For example, specify completion within 6 months, 12 weeks, a year, or a particular event.
Goal setting doesn’t end here. There are two categories of goals, namely, process goals and outcome goals. Simply put, you achieve your outcome goals by reaching several process goals along the way. You cannot have one or the other; it is best to combine both, giving you markers. These can be signposts on your journey.
What are process and outcome goals?
Outcome goals: These are based on the overall result of an event or performance. These goals specify the ‘what’, the ‘when’ and the ‘how long’.
Process goals: These are focused markers you achieve on the journey to indicate you are making progress. They are based on your input, completing the training, planning and testing your nutrition, and the extra stretching, mobility and strength work needed.
Developing your own medal goals is a way of achieving your personal ‘Olympic’ medal. Set unique bronze, silver and gold goals, progressively getting more challenging. Starting with bronze, which focuses more on the process goals, leading towards the gold being the achievement of your outcome-based goal.
You have identified your ‘WHY’ and have a set of goals to achieve. These will help you stay motivated, focused and ensure the best possible protection and prevention against injury, illness, or obstacles. You need adequate preparation and a few things to fall in your favour. However, having signposts for your journey will enhance your chance of success. You may experience some problems along the way, but, you have taken the first steps towards success on your running journey.
There is pressure, of course. Like with anything, setting goals makes it real and something tangible to potentially worry about. Focus on the process and the journey, and the outcome results from all these processes falling into place. Instead of worrying, get excited, it’s a challenge.
A great incentive is visualising how you will feel crossing the finish line, or having the medal put around your neck? Visualising your state of mind and the external benefits is an excellent way of keeping things on track, ensuring it is a challenge and not a chore.
You have your WHY, you have your goals; now how are you going to get there?