Whatever you want your running habit to achieve, you’re more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down. Write them down, really? Many people go through life with ideas in their head for what they want to achieve but they never express them in specific, trackable plans.
When you write out a clear statement of what your running goal is, how you intend to achieve it, the date you will achieve it by, and any activities you take to achieve it, the goal takes on a life of its own. Suddenly, it’s not just an idea in your head; it exists and is expressed in the real world.
You can now pinpoint your goal, explore how you will achieve it and feel proud of your work as you note your progress.
So, how do you start an effective running journal for success?
Get a quality Journal
A5 Journals can be found and bought online or in shops, typically for under £10. You can spend what you want on your Journal but remember, the more you pay for a quality journal the more you are likely to value and use it. Think about it; you probably wear clothes that were expensive more than cheaper clothes, because you want to get your money’s worth.
You can choose between plain or lined paper, or a journal with an entry space for each date.
Define a specific goal; have a vision for what you want to achieve
Do you want to run a marathon? Lose a few pounds? Run 20 miles a week? Achieve a 5K time? Raise a certain amount for a charity, through a race?
What you want to achieve will become your vision. Define it and make it specific. When it’s specific, it’s easier to measure and stay motivated. For instance, an ambiguous vision like ‘run more’ is difficult to measure and achieve because there are no set criteria for how more you should be running, in what time frame, by when.
If you currently run 6 miles a week but want to double this, a specific vision could be ‘run at least 12 miles a week by the end of May’. It’s specific, measurable and achievable (within your capabilities).
Write the vision down
In clear, bold, striking text, write the goal down. Writing the goal down makes it tangible, freeing it from the jumbled thoughts and ideas in your head. It’s no longer a mere possibility or thought, it’s a fixed goal.
Brain storm ideas for how you will achieve it. Will you join a running club? Start running with a friend? Purchase your first pair of running shoes? Run in the morning, mid-day, the afternoon? Establish a stable routine? Whatever it’s going to take, get it down on paper and get thinking.
Break it down into manageable goals; break it down.
Like the popular British band Tears for Fears say, “break it down again”.
When you have your clear vision defined and written down, you can break it down into smaller manageable goals. These will act as milestones on your path to achieving your overall objective.
Some milestone goals for running a 5K sub-20, could be to first achieve a sub-25 5K. The next milestone could be sub-23, then sub-22 and so on.
The idea of breaking the vision down into smaller goals is so you don’t get overwhelmed. A doctor doesn’t perform heart surgery on their first day; they train and practice with books, model hearts and bodies and by making small progress daily until they are finally confident and skilled enough to operate.
Don’t let your main objective, your vision, overwhelm you; break it down to smaller manageable milestones. Check them off as you complete them.
Record daily progress
Each day you take a conscious action to move yourself towards your goal, record your progress in the journal. Write down the date, the activity, the distance travelled, time taken, average pace (if you have a running watch or app), and any thoughts or feelings you have. You could note down equipment purchased (shoes, tops, accessories etc.) and your weight (if losing weight is part of your goal).
Not only will recording your activities help you monitor the progress towards your goal, documenting your running journey means you keep memories of the life changing, challenging experience forever. You should be proud of setting and achieving a running goal. Your journal will become a treasure, a testament to your determination and hardship.
Celebrate your achievement, then… set another massive goal quickly
After you achieve your main goal, it’s important you reward yourself for your efforts. Go out with friends, watch a movie, have a cheat meal. you’ve set a challenge, pushed yourself, and achieved the goal.
Immediately after your achievement, you’ll be feeling hugely proud and inspired. Take advantage of this positive state and quickly set another massive goal.
The law of diminishing intent
There’s something called the law of diminishing intent, meaning your odds of doing something meaningful diminish the longer you leave it. You’re feeling happy and empowered now, so act now. Don’t leave it till tomorrow, or next week when life’s other priorities will get in the way.
This is the best time to set another goal, push and expand your capabilities even further.
Whatever your new goal, write it down in your journal for running success.