How to Set a Mileage Goal for the Year

One of the frequent goals that runners often set each year is a mileage goal. Since the goal only includes how many miles to run in a year and doesn’t look at speed or other metrics, it’s a simple goal that even the newest runner can make for themselves. You can choose to share the goal with the world, or join a challenge, or you can keep it personal, reportable only to yourself. However you decide to share or not, it’s a way to give you a little incentive on those days when you don’t want to run or when you are training for an event. 


So, where do you start? Well, like many goals in life, a good way to start is with a SMART goal: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Specific and timely are pretty easy gets for this exercise. You are going to set a (specific) number of miles and you are going to do it in one year.  In these days of technology, measurable is also pretty straight forward. There are smart watches, phone apps, and tracking websites, not to mention being able to see your mileage on a treadmill. Of course, you’ll also want to figure out how to track your mileage. There are plenty of options, including the old school method of pen and paper.


Now comes the fun part! How many miles should you set for your goal?


Things to look at:

  • What is your current mileage? You don’t want to increase your mileage by more than 10% a week, so be realistic about where you are.

  • Do you have races on the horizon? If you are training for a marathon, your mileage is naturally going to increase faster than if you are training for a 5k.

  • Do you have time in your life to do more than you are? No? Then set a goal based on staying at your current mileage and call it good.

  • Do you want to count walking workouts or just running? That’s right - it’s your goal. You get to make the rules.


In the end, a mileage goal is just that - a goal. You may hit it. You may not. You may even get totally derailed and have to change your goal. That’s ok. You need to listen to your body and sometimes just say no. Or a sick kid or work project may make running impossible. But on some days, that mileage goal may be the very thing that gets you off the couch and out the door. And that’s the whole point.


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