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!
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 impossible.
Let’s set some goals!
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
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
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
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
|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
|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
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!