“Would you have been here otherwise?” He asks.
And I admit, the frozen air biting at my cheeks as we run along the dark, icy path, that I almost wasn’t.
The cracking open of a new year is almost a cliche for fitness. Gyms will be bursting at the seams as January resolutions drive people to attempt to implement new workout regimens. And run clubs fill with new runners who by February have decided that they’d rather rethink their resolutions in the summer heat. Goals are great, but too often they are vague.
I get the call every couple of months to show up to one our running clinics and give a talk about one of my chosen subjects, but almost always the conversation lands in the same place: setting goals. My talk on technology and “how to use your Garmin watch” always leads to the question of what to do with the data: goal setting. My talk about running destination races always leads to the question of external motivation: goal setting. And my talk on goal setting… well, that’s already about goal setting.
I set a specific numerical goal each year. It is a concrete number, divided by three-hundred and sixty-five days (plus one for next year I suppose) and spread across those days as a ledger of daily progress towards that goal. I am a running accountant, my watch ticking off klicks to the double decimal place, tens of meters, and tallying that number towards my great-big-annual, drum-roll-worthy, distance goal.
The funny thing is that I have (injury adjustment of 2014 caveat, noted) met that goal every year. It drives me. It motivates me. It inspires me come out for a run even when the frost is collecting on my cheeks in the deepest cold of a December evening.
After all, reaching for that number across the span of a year is SMART.
Many of my clinic talks also wander into discussions around the idea of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym:
S = specific
M = measurable
A = action-oriented
R = realistic
T = temporal
For me this means that I set a goal of running a specific number of kilometers, that I measure with my GPS watch, that my actions of running (or not) will help me achieve, based on realistic predictions of what I’m capable across the time-span of one year.
And I do it all on a giant spreadsheet each year… so, next question: would you like a copy?
As my New Years gift to all my awesome readers, I’ve shared a Google spreadsheet that you can use to track your running. This is a slimmed down version of what I use to track my own running. If you are not among the tech savvy, simply open within your Google account, make yourself a copy and then follow the instructions. There are protected fields where your shouldn’t edit and it will not let you break anything without a warning. Keep track of your running and let me know how it’s working for you.
If you are more savvy, turn off the protected fields and customize as required.
It’s new years. Now go be SMART. Share, enjoy, and set some goals for 2016.