It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced athlete who regularly competes, or are only just getting into physical activity, it’s absolutely essential that you set yourself individual goals. Having definitive targets in place will add purpose to your training and motivate you to improve your performance, so it’s something you should certainly look to incorporate if you haven’t already.

When it comes to setting yourself goals, it’s recommended that you follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant & Time-Bound) goal process.

S – Specific

The key to setting yourself goals is making sure they’re specific. They need to be precise and conclusive so that you understand exactly what you need to do to accomplish it, therefore pushing and motivating you all the way.

Good examples include ‘I want to lose 2 stone in 14 weeks’ and ‘I want to complete my first virtual challenge by the end of 2019’.

Avoid vague goals such as “I want to run faster” or “I want to lose some weight” as you’re not working towards achieving an explicit outcome, and are likely to lose interest much quicker.

M – Measurable

A measurable goal is one that you can easily determine whether or not it’s been completed. If we take the example above of losing 2 stone in 14 weeks, after 98 days you’ll be able to compare your new weight with your previous weight and quickly see whether you’ve been successful. Whereas if your goal was to just lose ‘some’ weight, there’s not an exact target for you to aim for and thus won’t truly know whether you’ve completed it.

Some people choose to break their long-term goal into smaller milestones along the way to help them keep focused throughout. Using the same example, you might try to lose 2lbs every week so that you stay on track and continue to work towards your final objective.

A – Achievable/Attainable

Make sure the goals you set yourself are challenging but achievable. Of course you want your goals to be tricky, but you’re setting yourself up for failure, pain and frustration if they’re too far out of reach. The best types of goals are the ones that require you to push yourself without overdoing it.

Assess your personal abilities and go from there – there’s no point aiming to run a marathon next month if the furthest you’ve ever ran is 10k. Your goals can be as simple or as complex you like, just be sure that it’s one you’re confident you can complete without putting too much stress on your body.

R – Relevant

It’s crucial that you choose to complete a goal that you consider worthwhile. Don’t just choose a goal because it’s one your friend is also aiming to achieve, tackle one that is going to motivate you and be of benefit.

T – Time-Bound

It’s strongly advised that rather than be open-ended, you set yourself a deadline for completing your goal. This will help to ensure you stay focused and committed to achieving your end goal, preventing you from getting bored or skipping training workouts.

Give yourself more than enough time to complete your target so that you can be lenient should any hiccups occur (you can always bring your deadline forward if you’re ahead of schedule.

SMART Fitness Goals Examples

Looking for some SMART fitness goal ideas? Not to worry, here we’ve listed some of our favourite for various types of sports:

Running –

  • I want to complete a marathon before the end of this year.
  • I want to beat my 10K PB by 5 seconds or more in my next race.
  • I want to be able to run 5K without stopping before the end of this year.
  • I want to complete a running virtual challenge in September.
  • I want to run a sub-2-hour half marathon before I’m 40.

Cycling –

  • I want to cycle to work every day for a month.
  • I want to complete my first 50K cycle ride by the end of this Summer.
  • This month I want to complete my furthest cycling virtual challenge
  • I want to cycle for 1 hour every week for 3 months.
  • I want to complete an 80km ride with an ascent of 1,500m before my next ride with my local cycling club.

Swimming –

  • I want to make sure I maintain my arm speed and stroke rate in the last lap of my next race.
  • I want to swim 2,000m every week for 2 months.
  • I want to win my next swimming race.
  • I want to complete 6 swimming virtual challenges in 2019.
  • I want to improve my PB in the 100m breaststroke.

General Exercise –

  • I want to exercise for 30 minutes every day for 3 weeks.
  • I want to lose 3 stone before my next birthday.
  • I want to try a new physical activity this week.
  • I want to attend a local yoga class this week.
  • I want to complete my first walking virtual challenge this month.

Get Started with Race at your Pace

If you’re looking for a motivational fitness challenge, then look no further than Race at your Pace. Every month we inspire people of all abilities to enjoy exercising through our highly popular virtual challenges. They’re incredibly rewarding and completing one is the ideal type of goal to set yourself!

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See more: What is a Virtual Challenge?

See more: How to Stay Fit During the Off-Season