Performance psychologist Dr Ciara Losty offers three simple steps to setting yourself achievable goals leading up to the Waterford Viking Marathon
For 2017, Waterford Viking Marathon has teamed up with the Department of Health, Sport & Exercise Science (DHSES) in Waterford Institute of Technology to provide expert training information in the run up to the event. In this article, Dr Ciara Losty (Performance Psychologist) looks at goal setting and gives us 3 simple steps for setting your running goals:
Step 1 - Identify Your Goals
One way to identify your goals is to ask yourself a series of questions about your skills and attitude towards running. Consider each of the following questions:
- Why do I run?
- What do I like most about being a runner?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses as a runner?
- Am I in good physical condition?
- Do I prepare myself mentally for each race?
- What aspects of training are most enjoyable to me?
- Do I stay calm in pressure situations or when it gets physical tough?
- What would I like to accomplish in my running?
It is important to write your answers down. Don’t question what you’re writing and just let your answers flow. You may discover that answering these questions is not a simple or straightforward process. However, taking time to think about the answers should help clarify what you want to accomplish through your running journey, as well as help you target specific areas requiring improvement. Choose what is most meaningful to you and allow this to define your goals.
Step 2 - 3 C’s to setting goals
Clear goals are measurable and specific with a definite timeline for completion. There is less misunderstanding about what behaviours will be rewarded when these criteria are met. You know what's expected and you can use the specific result as a source of motivation. When a goal is vague or when it's expressed as a general instruction (e.g. "get fit”) it has limited motivational value. For example, “I will run until I am tired” is a very vague goal, whereas “I will aim to run my first 5 km under 25 minutes” is clear, measureable and specific.
One of the most important characteristics of a goal is the level of challenge it presents you. People are often motivated by achievement, and they'll judge a goal based on the significance of the anticipated accomplishment. One of the most consistent findings from the research is that goals should be challenging and difficult, yet attainable. Surveys and interviews have indicated that people prefer moderately difficult goals to very difficult or easy goals. In essence, effective goals are difficult enough to be challenging, yet realistic enough to be achieved. Therefore, setting moderately difficult and challenging goals will provide you with a natural motivation to do well.
Goal achievement requires commitment. Write down and display your goals publically (at home, in the office, in your wallet, on a mirror etc.). This is your visual commitment to your goals - If you don’t INK it you won’t THINK it. For those of you working with a coach, ensure that you are both on the same page regarding your goals. When goals are imposed or established without significant input from the athlete, motivation is unlikely to be enhanced. Effective goals are agreed upon and understand by all involved, with athletes and coaches more likely to "buy into" a goal if they feel they were part of creating that goal.
Taking the time to work through the two steps outlined above will hopefully help you to understand what motivates you to run and how to set goals that will push you along the path to success at the Waterford Viking Marathon.
Related CoursesBachelor of Science (Honours) in Sport & Exercise Science
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