Are you ready to lace up your running shoes and set some goals that go beyond chasing those running personal bests (PRs)? While aiming for faster times is exciting, there’s a whole world of achievements waiting for you that don’t involve the ticking of a stopwatch. Join us as we explore 10 exciting career goals that will fuel your passion, increase your motivation, and make your career journey even more rewarding.
1. Monthly mileage goal: Set a monthly mileage goal that suits your fitness level and long-term goals. It’s a great way to measure consistency and challenge yourself. How to do it: Look at how many miles per week you’ve run consistently over the past few months. Add 5% to your weekly mileage and aim for that distance each week for the next month. Use a running log to track your progress and monitor your body.
2. Mindful Racing: Dedicate a run each week to mindfulness miles. Instead of focusing on pace or distance, tune into your breathing, your surroundings, and the rhythm of your steps. It’s a beautiful way to find mental clarity while moving. How to do it: Leave your watch at home (or your running app turned off). Run a route you are familiar with so you can focus on controlling your body. Focus on what you see, how you feel, what you smell, what you hear and enjoy the simplicity of running and what your body can do.
3. Hill Domain: Accept the uphill battle! Conquer the biggest hills in your neighborhood with determination. It’s a great exercise AND helps you build your confidence (especially if you run hills you normally avoid). Work on your uphill running technique to build strength that will pay off on your regular runs.
4. Quick Play (aka Fartlek Run): Inject spontaneity into your runs by adding bursts of speed at random intervals. It’s like a game of catch the wind, which makes your races exciting and unpredictable. How to do it: After a complete warm-up, choose a landmark in the distance (examples: a street sign, a specific house, a streetlight, etc.), speed up your pace until you reach that landmark, and then slow down. the speed to a reference point. easy pace to recover. Once you are fully recovered, repeat this with another reference point. If you’re new to speed work, do it a few times and return to your easy pace to complete the run. As you progress, you can add faster sections to this workout.
5. Fix your running form: Adjust your running form, focusing on individual aspects such as arm swing, stride length or posture. Mastering your form can lead to greater efficiency and a lower risk of injury. How to do it: Record each mile with your running form and reset as needed. Reminders of proper running form: relax your shoulders, arm swing should be approximately 90 degrees back and forth (without crossing in front of the body), stand with a slight forward lean, feet under the body (without exceeding the strides), quick steps…
Bonus: Ask a friend to record you running OR set up your camera and record yourself running a few times. Try to keep your form as normal as possible for an accurate example. Look for things like: tense shoulders slowly rising toward the ears, arm swing, forward lean, stride, differences between left and right sides, etc. Do a ‘running form check’ run once a week for a month and then do another one. Video to see how you have improved.
6. Exploration races: Rediscover the joy of running by exploring new routes and locations. Discover hidden gems and landmarks in your city while satisfying the explorer in you. How to do it: As you plan your workouts, choose a day/time when you can do 1 run per week on a “new location run.” It doesn’t have to be exotic or far from home.
Examples: Local parks: Have you visited all the parks in your area? If not, check them out. School Track: If the school campus is open, hit the track for a speed workout. Cycle or pedestrian paths, Local landmarks (these may also have well-maintained gardens and walking paths nearby). Or if you have more time, drive to a nearby lake, hiking trail, or beach.
7. Off-Road Adventure: Trade pavement for trails and experience the magic of trail running. The varied terrain engages different muscles and reconnects you with nature. How to do it: Search local races or trail running groups for the best information on where to run and safety precautions. Running and hiking groups often share current animal sightings, current trail conditions, and other important information that can help you have a safe adventure. Join a local running or trail walking group to get to know the area and make new friends. In my experience, trail runners are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
8. Social careers: Share your love of running with friends or join a local running group. The camaraderie and shared experiences will lift your spirits and add a social dimension to your passion. How to do it: Check with your local running shoe store for information on local group meets or runs. Many running stores organize their own races, but if they don’t, they will have information on local running groups. Then go! Give it a try, if you don’t like the group atmosphere, you don’t have to do it again, and at least you got a good workout!
9. Consistent Cross Training: Improve your physical activity by incorporating cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or yoga into your routine. Not only will this improve your overall performance, but it will also give your muscles a refreshing challenge. How to do it: Trade one run a week for another workout you might enjoy. It could be something new to you or an old favorite that you haven’t done in a while. Bonus points if it’s an activity that can enhance your career! Here are some great cross training options to consider: swimming, pickleball, strength training classes, yoga, tennis, Zumba, cycling…
10. Dynamic warm-ups: Prioritize dynamic stretches and warm-up exercises before running. This goal will not only improve mobility but will also help prevent injuries and ensure you are ready to conquer the miles. How to do it: Before each run, walk in place and start moving while checking in with your body to start warming up. Then, do some dynamic warm-up movements for 10 minutes. Examples of dynamic warm-up movements: walking, hip circles, arm circles, heel walking, toe walking, crab walking, knee hugs, hip stands, straight leg walking , forward lunges, lateral lunges, leg swings…
11. Speed Change Challenge at Work: Try trying a new sprint workout each week, such as fartlek, ladder intervals, negative splits, or tempo runs. This can help beat boredom if you’ve been running the same circuit at home at the same pace for months. Swap out one of your usual long or harder runs for a new speed workout. (Note: You should not increase distance AND difficulty in the same week. So, choose 1 race to incorporate into your plan and adjust the other days to balance fatigue and recovery time.)
12. Recovery rituals: Implement post-run recovery practices, such as foam rolling, stretching, and hydration, to aid in muscle repair and overall well-being. Tip: When I come back from a run, I sometimes set a timer for 10 minutes. This is my time to stretch and lather up. Times always end up passing before I finish or get bored of stretching and I’m glad I did.
13. Funny running photos: Keep an eye out for 3 fun, beautiful, strange, or notable things you see while running. Take a photo and share it on social media after your run. (Should we make this a group project on Instagram? LMK – and follow me @RunEatRepeat )
14. Inspirational Playlist: Create a new motivational playlist that will boost your mood and energy levels during your runs. Make a new one every month to keep it fresh and beat boredom.
15. Execution diary: Keep a running journal to track your emotions, thoughts, and reflections after each run. It can provide valuable information about your progress. (Note: I have a free printable Race Log if you’re not currently tracking and recording your races. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page for that.)
These are just a few ideas to help you achieve a career goal that isn’t related to PR or careers. Choose one of these or create your own unique goal that will keep you motivated and accountable.
Note: No matter what goal you choose, make it a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and time-bound). This ensures that you will have a way to measure progress and sets some boundaries to help keep you accountable. Once you choose a goal, decide how many times a week you will do X // how you will track X // how doing
For example: Your goal is to work on cross training. Your goal might be: “I will do a 30-minute yoga session once a week for the next 4 weeks.” Then, decide which day of the week is best for this and find a yoga session (on YouTube or in an in-person class). And finally, show up and do it.
Embrace the diversity of the running experience, celebrate your progress, and remember that every step counts. So, are you ready to run towards these new goals? Let’s lace up and make every run an adventure!
Remember, running is a personal journey and the goals you set should reflect your desires and aspirations. Whether you’re an experienced runner or just starting out, these alternative goals can add depth and excitement to your running routine. Happy racing!