How to achieve your running goal

How to achieve your running goal

Five-time Olympian Jo Pavey tells us why setting a goal is the best way to keep you focussed and motivated during training.


I still love aiming for things and setting targets – and it doesn’t matter whether your goal is a 5km run or a marathon, having something on a set date in the future keeps you focussed.

It’s so motivating to have goals to aim for and achieve; it gets you out of the door when you might be having second thoughts.

I relish the journey along the way, the ups and downs. It’s like puzzles to work out and if things go wrong, then you’ve got to think about how to overcome it.

Here are my top tips to help you achieve your goal:

First stepsThe first steps are the hardest
Even I can understand what it feels like when you haven’t run for a long time, and you don’t feel as fit. And I think people get scared when they think they’ve got to run continuously, which isn’t the case.  Just go out and jog for a minute and walk for two minutes to start with. Repeat a few times and take it from there.
Set up a goal page

Build it up graduallyDo it in stages
You don’t start off by doing a half marathon. You do a shorter distance, maybe aiming for a 5km event, and then think about building up. If you don’t do it sensibly, then you are more likely to be hit with a setback. And don’t try and run every day if you’re new to running either, that wouldn’t be sensible - you need to take rest days.
Find a fun run 5K events 10K

Be flexibleBe flexible
It's important to try and be consistent - but flexible - with your exercise routine. You'll almost certainly have to alter plans along the way - you might be juggling family or work or could have a setback or a niggle, so many things can crop up. But you’re only going to get the success of working towards your goal if you are flexible, listening to your body and keep training as consistently as you can.

WeatherWhatever the weather
There’s never the wrong weather to train in unless it’s dangerously icy. It’s about making sure you’ve got the right gear on. If it’s really cold, I’ll maybe wear two pairs of gloves, three pairs of socks, a headband or a hat. People are put off going out in the winter months, but they shouldn’t be.

GroupGet some help
Don’t be daunted about joining a running club. People think you’ve got to be a superb runner and it’s not the case. There are groups at clubs for everyone, usually divided into different abilities and distances. I went to a club recently, and one group was doing two miles, with some walking. The friendship and camaraderie that a club creates is fantastic; you’re all encouraging each other. A running buddy is a great idea too, for similar reasons.
Find a club

New routesMix things up
As you progress to your goal, don’t get stuck in a rut. Try out new routes and run on different surfaces in training rather than do it all on the road - I do a lot of my mileage on canal paths. Trails, cross-country runs or obstacle races are fun too, and that's what it's all about, it shouldn’t be a chore; it should be enjoyable and something that you don’t dread.
Trail runs Cross-country Obstacle races

ProgressMaking progress
As you become more experienced, you can start to introduce interval-type work, where you practice running at different paces. You’ll be surprised how much your running comes on by doing a little bit of work faster than your normal pace. Seeing the improvements you make is exciting but don't forget to take those important easy/recovery days.
Training advice

MedalReaching your goal
It's amazing how getting fitter and achieving your target can make you feel more focussed on many other aspects of your life. It significantly boosts your self-esteem - and makes you more ready for other challenges you might face.

Find your goal: Runs Rides Walks Treks

Photo credits:
Main image: Jane Tomlinson Run For All Series
Jo Pavey image: Adidas

This Mum Runs coverThis Mum Runs by Jo Pavey is published by Yellow Jersey Press (£18.99).

Search advice