Running Goals: 96 Exciting Goal Ideas For Your Next Training Cycle

Every runner should have at least one running goal.

You might want to run a 5k or finish your first marathon. Maybe you have a pace or time goal like breaking four hours in the marathon or running a mile in under 8 minutes.

Goals for runners are like a bottomless gas tank: they are what fuel our determination and consistency. 

Running goals give us a “why” for running. They drive us forward when it’s pouring outside on a Monday morning when you wake up to do your tempo run. They help us dig deep and push during a race. 

Running goals allow runners to get the most out of the sport and the most out of themselves as athletes and people.

Are you fired up just thinking about running goal ideas? Keep reading for our list of running goal ideas for your next training cycle.

In this guide, we will cover: 

  • What Are the Best Running Goals?
  • 12 Performance Running Goals
  • 12 Milestone Running Goals
  • 31 Experience Running Goals
  • 41 Training Running Goals

Let’s get started!

A silhouette of a person with a flag on a mountain.

What Are the Best Running Goals?

One of the greatest things about the sport of running is that you can set any number of running goals. There are no “good” or “bad” running goals—anything goes. However, the best running goals are those that mean something to you. 

Your running goal should fire you up and motivate you to do your training and push yourself. 

Running goals don’t have to just be performance goals. You can set training goals, experience goals, consistency goals, and more. 

Be creative and think broadly when setting your running goals, especially when you’re trying to figure out which type of running goal is most motivating to you.

If a running goal is too easy, it won’t push you or excite you. If a running goal is too hard, you’ll feel defeated before you even begin. 

The best running goals are challenging without being overwhelming or impassible. 

Let’s set some goals!

A notebook with the word goals written in it.

12 Performance Running Goals

Performance running goals are some of the simplest running goals to set for your training cycle, especially if you’ve run a race in the past or have an idea of your usual race pace.

You can use your previous performances, PRs or running PBs, and race times to inform your next performance running goal.

For example, if your best Parkrun time was 22:48, you might set your running goal to be breaking 22 minutes in the 5k.

Here are some examples of performance running goals:

Breaking a certain time in the mile
Breaking a certain time in the 5k
Breaking a certain time in the 10k
Breaking a certain time in the half marathon
Breaking a certain time in the marathon
Breaking a certain time in other race distances such as an ultramarathon
Being able to maintain a certain pace for an entire run: for example, run 10 min/mile for 5 miles without stopping or getting a PB on your favorite running route 
Getting a Strava segment crown
Qualifying for a race like the Boston Marathon, London Marathon, or Chicago Marathon
Qualifying for the Olympic Trials 
Taking on the David Goggins 4x4x48 challenge
Running negative splits
People running a 10k, one of many running goals.

12 Milestone Running Goals 

Milestone running goals are all about breaking new barriers and finishing a certain event like a new distance or getting in your longest run ever without worrying about your pace or performance per se.

Here are some examples of milestone running goals:

Running your first race
Running a new distance
Running non-stop for a certain distance or time
Running in the rain or snow for the first time
Running you longest you’ve ever run
Running your age in miles or kilometers on your birthday 
Running your first double-digits run (10 km or 10 miles or more)
Running on the beach
Running every day for the month
Running a certain number of miles or kilometers per week
Running when you are on vacation or maintaining your fitness routine when you’re traveling
Starting a running shoe rotation
A person running and smiling.

31 Experience Running Goals

Experience running goals are all about embracing running as a sport and the ways it can challenge you, change you, and enhance your life.

Here are some ideas for creative experience running goals:

Running a race in all 50 states in the United States
Running a marathon 
Running a half marathon 
Running a 10k
Running a 5k
Running a 50k or 50 miler
Running a 100k race or 100 miler
Running a multi-day race
Running a Ragnar Relay
Running an obstacle race like Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race
Running a themed race 
Running a destination race—traveling to a new state or country to run a race
Running a color run
Competing in an adventure race
Running a track race or relay 
Doing a triathlon
Running coast to coast or across your state or country
Running every street in your city, town, or municipality 
Running one or all the marathon majors (Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon, New York City Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, London Marathon) 
Becoming a Marathon Maniac (3 marathons in 90 days or 2 within 16 days) 
Joining a running club or team
Pacing a friend or a challenged athlete (such as Achilles International)
Raising money for a charity that means something to you
Finishing a 30-day running challenge
Maintaining a running streak 
Trying a cross-country race
Participating in a Parkrun
Volunteering at a race 
Coaching youth runners or Girls on the Run
Helping a friend or neighbor start running
Running an iconic landmark like the Great Wall of China or a famed race course
A person doing a bicep curl.

41 Training Running Goals

Training running goals focus on your day-to-day training or improve your overall fitness. It’s often the little things we do in training that add up to the biggest results, so don’t underestimate the power of a good training goal.

Here are a few examples of good training goals for runners: 

Stretching after every run
Warming up before every run
Strength training 2-3 times per week
Cross-training once or twice per week
Starting yoga or Pilates 
Running a certain number of days per week consistently (3 days per week, 5 days, etc.)
Taking a rest day every week
Doing a speed workout every week
Adding one day a week of trail running
Foam rolling every day or doing some other mobility work
Running strides a few days a week
Increasing your running cadence by 5-10 steps per minute
Doing core exercises every day
Taking on a 30-day fitness challenge 
Running at least one new route per week
Running a certain number or miles or kilometers in the year
Running the year in mileage
Running without a watch or Strava once a week
Setting PRs in the gym with weights
Doing 100 squats a day
Working on your nutrition or fueling
Working with a physical therapist to correct muscle imbalances
Addressing injuries as soon as you feel something to prevent them getting worse
Doing prehab exercises every day
Losing weight
Improving your hydration strategy
Starting heart rate training
Getting your VO2 max tested
Having a gait analysis done
Switching all your fueling to real foods and natural foods
Working with a running coach or following a training plan
Getting a personal trainer for strength training
Committing to keeping a training log
Using a GPS watch
Sleeping at least 7 hours per night
Cutting back on alcohol
Quitting smoking
Doing drills and dynamic warm-ups 2-3 runs per week
Doing a tempo run once per week
Running hill workouts 
Working on an aspect of your running form
Exercising 5 or more days per week
A person doing a squat.

What type of running goal fires you up? What running goal can you set to help you get faster, stronger, or make running fun again? 

Remember, there are no bad running goals. Pick one or two goals that inspire you to be your best. The more specific you can make your goal, the better.

When in doubt, use the SMART acronym for goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

Do a little brainstorming and choose something meaningful to you, and if you need us to give you a head start, you can take a look at our training plans!

SMART Goals acronym.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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