Your Next Running Goal – A Beginners Guide to Moving On

 

By Rick Morris

 

Now that you’ve graduated from the beginning runners program and successfully learned to run, you may be asking, “What’s next?” Where do you go from here? That’s a very good and important question. The way you answer that question can have a huge effect on the success of your running future. The most critical thing to keep in mind when answering that question is that you must always have a goal in mind. Don’t fall into the trap of just wandering aimlessly without direction. Beginning runners who do not continue to set goals often quit running and lose the fitness that they worked so hard to gain. Don’t let that happen to you.

 

Your next goal can be nearly anything from continuing to improve your fitness to running a 5K race, a 10K or even completing a marathon. No one can tell you what is best for you. Only you can decide the direction to take your running life. To help you with your decision I have outlined some possible running goals, their benefits and how much time and effort would be required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recreational Running/Running for Fun

 

Time Requirements – Minimal - 3 to 5 days per week. 20 minutes or more per day.

 

Effort Requirements – Minimal - mostly easy running.

 

Benefits/Risks – Improved health and reduced stress. Low injury and health risk.

 

Fitness and Weight Management

 

Time Requirements – Minimal to moderate – 4 to 7 days per week. 20 or more minutes per day.

 

Effort Requirements – Minimal to moderate – mostly easy running. Some higher intensity running and strength training.

 

Benefits/Risks – Improve health, reduced stress, ideal weight and stronger muscles. Low injury and health risk.

 

Run a 5K

 

Time Requirements – Moderate – 4 to 7 days per week. 30 minutes or more per day.

 

Effort Requirements – Moderate – a combination of easy running and some higher intensity running and strength training.

 

Benefits/Risks – Higher fitness level, improved running performance and stronger muscles. Low to moderate injury and health risk.

 

Run a 10K

 

Time Requirements – Moderate – 4 to 7 days per week, 30 to 60 minutes per day.

 

Effort Requirements – Moderate – a combination of easy running and higher intensity running/strength training.

 

Benefits/Risks – Higher fitness level, improved running performance and stronger muscles. Low to moderate risk of injury.

 

Run a Half Marathon

 

Time Requirements – Moderate to high – 4 to 7 days per week, 30 or more on most days with up to a 2 hour long run.

 

Effort Requirements – Moderate to high – a combination of easy running, long runs and higher intensity running/strength training.

 

Benefits/Risks – Higher fitness level, higher endurance level, improved running performance and stronger muscles. Low to moderate injury and health risk.

 

Run a Marathon

 

Time Requirements – High – 5 to 7 days per week, 30 minutes or more on most days with a long run of up to 3 hours.

 

Effort Requirements – High – a combination of easy running, long runs and higher intensity running/strength training.

 

Benefits/Risks – Higher fitness level, improved endurance, improved running performance and stronger muscles. Moderate injury and health risk.

 

Become a Year Round Competitive Runner

 

Time Requirements – High – 5 to 7 days per week, 30 minutes to 3 hours per day year round.

 

Effort Requirements – High – a combination of easy running, long runs, high intensity running, strength training and plyometrics.

 

Benefits/Risks – Very high fitness level, high endurance level, ideal weight, improved running performance and stronger muscles. Moderate injury and health risk.

 

These are only a sample of many possible running goal choices. Taken in order they are also the most logical, efficient and safe way to progress from a beginning runner to a year round competitive runner. After graduating from your beginning runners program you have three choices. You could stop running, continue to run for fitness and recreation or train to compete in running events and races.

 

The first option is not an acceptable option in my mind. You have taken the positive and life changing step of learning to run – now keep going. Running will improve your health, raise your fitness level, increase your strength, decrease your stress level, lengthen your lifespan and improve your social life. There is no good reason not to continue to set new running goals, so don’t even consider that option.

 

Many runners are not interested in taking part in running events and that is perfectly fine. The physical and mental benefits of running are the reason nearly all runners continue to enjoy the great sport of running. Participating in races is just the icing on the cake. So, the next logical step for many new runners is to continue to run on a consistent life long basis for fun and fitness. Always keep in mind that running should be fun. No one is forcing you to do this. You have made the choice to run and it was an excellent choice.

 

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