I had no map!


It’s been a while since I’ve visited blog-land.  It’s not because I didn’t have ideas to write about because I have ideas coming out my ears.  It’s not because I didn’t have time since I refuse to allow that to keep me from doing anything I want.  So why haven’t I written to you?  It’s because I have lacked focus.  Not in my writing, but in my fitness and running goals.  Me?  Lose focus?  Yep.  And it’s easy to do.

I ran my last marathon 3 weeks ago.  Following typical marathon events, I took a week off of much activity, workouts, and definitely running to give myself time to heal.  But at that point, I made a very critical mistake. 

I forgot to set a goal.


GPS devices and maps are great tools if you know where you are going.  But until you put a destination in, they can only tell you where you are and where you’ve been.  That’s great information to know, but it’s not going to get you out of your driveway.  If you’re like my husband and I, you’ve spent a few trips in the car driving around asking each other “Where do you want to go eat?”  It can be frustrating and can waste a lot of time (and gas) until you decide your destination. 

Running and fitness are the same way.  Until you set goals, you can only see where you’ve gone and where you’ve been, but you’ll spend a lot of time working aimlessly instead of targeting your workout to be effective.

How To Set Goals

When it comes to setting goals, many of us start out with very broad goals.  “I want to lose weight.”  That’s similar to saying “I want to visit Europe.”  It’s a great general goal, but when it comes time to plan that trip, you have to be a bit more detailed.  That’s why I like to follow the SMART guide to setting goals.

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely


This is where the “go to Europe” falls.  You have to be specific.  Broad, general goals are difficult to meet because it’s hard to track milestones.  This is one of the primary successes of the Weight Watchers program.  You don’t focus on the end, you focus on small, specific goals.  “I want to lose 5 lbs.”  Other specific goals could be “I want to drop one dress/pant size,” “I want to do 10 pushups,” “I want to run a 5k.” " These are very specific and they are very….


Making goals measurable is how you earn gold stars!  If your goal is to lose 5 lbs, you can measure that.  You can measure a goal of running a 5k by keeping track of how many miles you can run in a week, day, or hour.  Being able to track your progress toward your goal will help motivate you in your journey.


Another key to success is to chose attainable goals.  If you can’t run a mile, don’t set your goal to be to run a marathon in 3 months.  For me, I still can’t do a single pushup, so my goal would never be to do 10 by next week.  Small, attainable goals will give you motivation and will help keep you on track.


It’s sometimes difficult to understand how attainable and realistic are different areas, but this is a very important one to understand. One of my goals is to lose 5lbs in a month, which is very attainable.  However, if I were to say I plan on doing it by not eating any sweets, candy, soda, or sugar, I would definitely be setting myself up for not only failure, but a very stressful (and miserable) month, trust me!  If you set a goal to run a 5k in 2 months, planning to do it by running for 30 minutes every single day of the week is very unrealistic.  Make sure you set your goals and make your plans by being realistic.


In your goal, make sure you set a time goal.  We work better and more successfully if we give ourselves a timeframe.  Keep the duration of the goal short or break it up into smaller goals.  The most successful fitness goals tend to be no longer than 12 weeks, which is why many training programs fall into 12 week increments.  If possible, find an event or occasion that corresponds with your goal.  If you want to run a 5k in 2 months, find one that is 2 months away and register today.  If you want to lose a dress size, make dinner reservations or plan an event near that date.  The anticipation and excitement will spur you forward!

Your Goal Statement

Now, get out a piece of paper and write it out.  Tape it to your mirror, your car dash, your day planner, put it in your phone calendar.  Keep it where it will remind you of your goals. 

Who?    -  “I.”  (okay, this one is pretty easy)
What?   – “I want to run a 5k".”
When?  – “I want to run a 5k in July.”
Where? – “I want to run the 5k on July 3rd in Tulsa, OK.”
How?    – “I want to run the 5k on July 3rd in Tulsa, OK by joining my local training program.”
Why"?   – “I want to run the 5k on July 3rd in Tulsa, OK so I can become healthier and be a good example for my children.”

Congratulations!  Now you have your map!  It’s not extreme, it’s reasonable, and most importantly, it’s possible!  Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is the key to planning a successful journey.  Now what?

Get out there!



~ by Shawna on May 16, 2010.

3 Responses to “I had no map!”

  1. thanks for the s-m-a-r-t- map!

    five oreo cookies
    each day
    for five weeks

    totally achievable and attainable and enjoyable. 🙂

  2. Okay I’m doing it.

    I want to run the 5K on July 3rd in Wimbledon, ND by following Hal Higdon’s 5K Intermediate training program because running makes me feel strong and confident.

    • Awesome, Jill – and that’s a great training program! Keep me updated on how your training is going and remind me as your race gets closer!!

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