How to Set Running Goals

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Running can be incredibly rewarding. It's beneficial to your overall health and mental wellbeing, is a great cross-training option and lets you indulge your competitive side.

Having goals for your running routine can help shape and focus your workouts and enhance your results. To set an objective, first ask yourself why you're running and what you hope to accomplish. Once you identify the purpose of your running, you can work on meeting tangible goals.

GOAL #1: Running for Fitness

One of the most popular reasons to run is for fitness. Running has a two-fold benefit of working many of your body's muscles to include the feet, legs and core, as well as elevating your heart rate and working the cardiovascular system.

The more you run, the stronger and more efficient your heart is at distributing oxygen to your muscles. Keeping your heart rate elevated through extended exercise, such as running, is one way to do this. Running also burns energy in the form of calories, which can aid in weight loss.

GOAL #2: Running for Work

Some jobs, usually law enforcement, military or related jobs, will hold you to a certain standard of physical fitness. This standard can include running. Identifying objectives and goals for these reasons is simple, because most jobs will have very specific running requirements.

Each branch of the U.S. military, for example, tests on a timed distance run between 1.5 and 3 miles, depending on what branch you join. The key here is to identify a goal time or score for your particular required distance, then break it down into smaller components like six sets of 400 meters for a 1.5-mile run, and run each consecutive 400 meters at your targeted pace.

GOAL #3: Running to Improve

If you're already an avid runner, you may run simply to become better. Similar to training for a job, training to get faster or stronger or to increase your endurance is a common goal for runners.

To start, you'll want to identify where you are in terms of capabilities for speed and distance. This can include what your mile time is, whether you can run three miles non-stop and so on.

Next, determine where you would like to be. Keep this realistic, so the goals you set are achievable. Once you achieve your goals, you can move on to creating new ones and achieving those as well.

GOAL #4: Running for Fun

If you aren't looking to run for your health, your vocation or competition, but you still feel the urge to get out and pound some pavement, you may just want to run for fun.

Try running in new locales, with friends, with a dog or even to and from work. To avoid monotony, focus on keeping your routes fresh and the scenery different each time you run.

Set Your Own Running Goals

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What do YOU think? What are your running goals? Do you run for fitness or weight loss? Are you looking to compete in a race? Does your job require a certain level of physical fitness?

Or maybe you want to get into running but you don't have any specific goals. Use this infographic to help you develop your own goals, and then share it with the rest of the LIVESTRONG.COM community in the comments section below!