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Running Goals: 116 Realistic & Fun Ideas For Motivation

The best rule to stay motivated as a runner is to always have running goals. As soon as you complete a running goal – set a new one.

It doesn’t matter how big, small, or even how crazy the goal is – but it does need to be realistic.

That doesn’t have to limit your ambitions. You can set yourself a massive goal of running a 100-mile ultra race. That’s completely unrealistic and doomed to fail if you’ve just started running and your race is in 2 months.

But if you have 3 years to train and set yourself intermediate goals of running a half marathon, a marathon, your first ultra, and then your first 50-mile race… the crazy plan starts to take shape.

Running goals get us out of bed for a morning run and make it easier to head out running in the rain. This post will help you find motivational ideas for your running training plan.

performance goals

Setting The Best Goals – From A Half Marathon To A Running Streak

The best running goals are the ones that excite or inspire you. If it’s just more of the same stuff you do all the time or if the goal is vague such as improving as a runner – it’s not going to motivate you.

Find a goal that challenges your usual routine. It could be a type of race you’ve never tried before.

Such as running a certain distance that’s completely out of your comfort zone: maybe a marathon runner running a mile race. Or a different terrain: a trail runner completing a road marathon.

Your goal could involve travel or exploration: enter a race somewhere you’ve never been before. Or fun – try taking part in a relay with friends.

The best set of goals will make you a better runner and help to improve your performance. It could be improving your mile time or completing a running streak.

How To Set A Running Goal

It helps to set SMART fitness goals. The SMART acronym stands for:

  • Specific – a clear goal not a vague aim.
  • Measurable – it’s only a goal if it’s measurable.
  • Attainable – is it something you can achieve in the time allocated?
  • Relevant – does it match your inspirations and current fitness level?
  • Time-bound – even if it’s a long-term goal it still needs a time limit.

Break big goals down into short-term goals to help you build up to hitting your long-term target. Keep a training diary and measure your progress regularly to make sure you’re still on track.

SMART running goals

What Are Realistic Running Goals?

Realistic goals should be challenging but achievable. If it’s too easy, the goal won’t motivate you.

If it’s impossible, you’re setting yourself up for failure. When you fail to make progress, you’ll quickly become disillusioned. Instead of inspiring your performance, poor goal setting can hinder your running progress.

Aim for something that is realistic but still pushes your boundaries – to get out of a rut in your running or break through a fitness plateau.

It could be running better by improving your running speed, running at a certain pace, or improving endurance by strength training twice a week.

Running Goals For Your Training Plan

It’s always best to build your training around goal setting. A good running habit uses a series of training goals to stay on track and improve running fitness.

From speed workouts to strength exercises, try some of these goal ideas to improve your training:

Run negative splits where you run the second part of your run faster than the first
Record and monitor your progress
Run every day for a month
Run 2 miles every day
Dynamic stretch before every run
Warm up before running
Become a morning runner
Take up yoga for runners
Add cross-training to your running plan
Add strength training 2 or 3 times a week
Use bodyweight exercises to improve strength
Add core exercises
Improve hip mobility
Run fasted once a week
Add speed workouts to your training
Run strides once a week
Use running drills to improve your running form
Add one tempo run a week
Take at least one rest day a week
Follow the 80/20 rule
Set a weekly distance target and stick to it
Run hill repeats
Run negative splits where you run the second part of your run faster than the first
Running goal for training
running goals for beginners

Goals To Make You A Better Runner

Most runners want to see long-term improvements in their running. These ideas for a good running goal will make a big difference to your race times. Try these running tips:

Get a running coach
Use a personal trainer for strength training
Join a running club
Find a running buddy
Get your VO2 max tested
Use a GPS watch
Join Strava
Improve your nutrition by cooking healthy meals from scratch
Aim to be a normal weight (not over or underweight)
Improve muscle imbalances
Get a gait analysis
Cut back on alcohol
Improve your eating habits – less high-fat, sugar-laden highly processed foods
Get enough sleep. Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night
Running goal to improve as a runner
strength training goals for runners

Running Goals For Beginners

Beginner runners have so much scope for improvement but it’s important to set goals that are achievable.

Start with simple goals you can hit without too much difficulty. Setting goals should focus on running regularly and building a running habit.

Run a mile without stopping
Set a weekly distance goal and aim to increase it by at least a mile or 10% every week.
Add a mile to your long run every week
Start running 3 times a week
Enter a fun run
Aim to complete your first 5k in 9 weeks
Enter a 10K race
Train for your first half marathon
Run a 5K in under 30 minutes
Complete a 30-day running challenge
Running goals for beginners
goal setting for beginner runners

Performance Running Goals

These running goal ideas focus on performance. Remember to adjust suggested times and race distances to match your ability.

Set a personal record at 5K
Run a 5K in under 25 minutes
Set a personal record at 10K
Run a 10K in under 50 minutes
Set a time goal for the half marathon distance
Set a time goal for the half-marathon distance
Set a personal best for the marathon distance
Achieve the London Marathon or Boston Marathon qualifying time for your age group
Run a full marathon in under 4 hours
Run a race at a constant pace
Improve your time for a segment on Strava
Reduce your mile time by 30 seconds
Enter a track event: 400m, 800m or 1500 m
Performance goals for runners

Milestone Running Goals

Set running goals based on milestones. Once you complete a milestone set your next running goal.

Enter your first race
Complete your 50th Park Run
Complete 10 different Park Runs
Run a new distance
Run a race in another country
Run up a hill without stopping
Complete your first double-digit run
Complete an Everest running challenge
Enter your first trail race
Finish your first ultra-marathon
Run your age on your birthday
Run a race every week for a year
Run 5 marathons back to back
Complete a marathon in every State
Run a race in every European country
Beat your monthly mileage record
Milestone goals for runners
challenging goals for runners

Inspirational Running Goals

Find a goal that inspires you:

Run across your county or state
Enter a race raising money for charity
Raise money for charity by organizing a relay
Run for 24 hours non-stop
Run a marathon in a different country every year
Do an extreme running event like the Marathon Des Sables
Run a multi-day race
Enter a mountain running event
Complete a triathlon
Break your streak run record
Run a Spartan Race
Become an ambassador for a running charity
Organize your own running group or event
Go on an adventure run
Run in a foreign city you’ve never visited before
Inspirational goals for runners
fun challenges for runners - mud run

Fun Running Goals

Running should be fun. Try these ideas to make running more fun:

Enter an obstacle race
Take part in a color race
Run a new running route every week
Enter a themed race
Run a race with friends
Take part in an ultra-relay event
Join a virtual running group and have monthly challenges
Do a 100-mile week challenge
Run barefoot once a month
Try fastpacking and explore a new trail
Take part in a zombie run
Run a beach race
Try a night race
Run with a baby stroller
Test out minimalistic shoes and run in them for a month
Go on a yoga and running retreat
Take part in a beer mile
Run on a treadmill for one month
Run over a bridge or through a tunnel
Run up the stairs of a tall building
Climb to the top of a mountain and run down
Take part in a night trail race
Try orienteering
Participate in a mud run
Fun goals for runners
Realistic running goals

Be creative and set your own unique running goals! Every runner is different, so think about what would inspire and motivate you to reach your personal best and make it happen.