13 Examples of SMART Goals for Running

Running is one of the most cost-effective and popular forms of exercise worldwide. It is an excellent form of cardio that enhances endurance and promotes mental well-being.

Whether you’re training for your first 5K or aiming to break your best time for the marathon, creating goals is vital to success. Here, we’ll find examples of SMART goals for runners to enhance their running abilities.

These goals can help you stay laser-focused and reach your accomplishments. You will be well on your way to squeezing out your running potential.

What is a SMART Goal?

If you want to develop practical goals for running, the SMART system can help. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Let’s look at each SMART element and how it applies to running.


It would be best to establish specific running goals to increase your chances of accomplishing them. Vague goals may be arduous, whereas specificity promotes clarity and direction.

For example, a precise goal for running might be to “decrease your 5K time by one minute within the following three months.”


Measurable goals are crucial for running because it allows you to track your progress effectively. For example, a quantifiable goal for running could be to complete a 10K race in under 60 minutes. You will take the required steps to stay the course.


Make sure you set achievable goals based on your current running abilities and strengths. Unrealistic expectations may lead to frustration and injuries, so remember to set objectives that fall within your existing skill set.


Concentrate on running goals that are meaningful to you at a core level. Relevant goals provide the motivation and determination to push through difficulties.

Ask yourself questions such as: What do I value most? What brings me fulfillment? By gaining an understanding of your core beliefs and priorities, you can make headway toward running goals.


A detailed timeline encourages you to prioritize your objectives according to their urgency and importance, helping you to allocate time efficiently. That way, you can manage time better and avoid distractions that can derail success.

13 Examples of SMART Goals for Running

You can read more for various SMART goals examples for running:

1. Boost Your Endurance

“I want to increase my running endurance by 15% within 6 months. I hope to accomplish this by developing a consistent schedule, incorporating strength training, and focusing on proper nutrition.”

Specific: The statement details the expected result (a 15% increase in running endurance) and the strategies used to reach it (consistent schedule, strength training, proper nutrition).

Measurable: A 15% increase in running endurance can be assessed by checking running distance, time, and heart rate.

Attainable: This SMART goal is realistic as long as enough time and effort are devoted.

Relevant: Boosting running endurance could enhance physical fitness and overall health.

Time-based: There is a 6-month completion for this particular goal.

2. Increase Running Speed

“I’ll create and implement a plan to increase my running pace by 30 seconds per mile within a year. I will review my progress every three months and make adjustments accordingly.”

Specific: The goal is well-defined, describing what must be done (a 30-second improvement in running pace) and the timeline to reach it (one year).

Measurable: A 30-second improvement in running pace can be reached by tracking running times and form.

Attainable: This can be accomplished with sufficient resources, such as a running coach or training program.

Relevant: Boosting running speed can help improve overall fitness and challenge personal records.

Time-based: Success should be met within a year, with progress checked every three months.

3. Enhance Your Form

“For three months, I will work on enhancing my running form by incorporating strength training exercises designed to improve stability, balance, and flexibility. I plan to get feedback from my coach to make sure my form is improving.”

Specific: The goal details a process to enhance running form through strength training exercises and seeking feedback from a coach.

Measurable: You can monitor improvements in form through feedback data over time.

Attainable: Improving form is doable with proper training and professional guidance.

Relevant: Enhancing form leads to fewer injuries and improved running efficiency.

Time-based: The SMART goal must be attained over three months.

4. Incorporate Rest Days

“I aim to incorporate two rest days into my weekly running routine and stick to this schedule within three weeks. On rest days, I’ll engage in low-impact exercises or yoga to enhance overall fitness.”

Specific: You have parameters for rest day implementation and activities to engage in during those rest days.

Measurable: Make sure you monitor adherence to the rest day schedule regularly.

Attainable: Integrating rest days is absolutely doable with proper planning and commitment.

Relevant: Rest days are crucial for injury prevention and overall running performance.

Time-based: This statement should be met after three weeks.

5. Celebrate Achievements

“During my four-month training period for an upcoming race, I aim to celebrate small achievements to stay motivated. I want to reward myself with something small like a relaxing spa or movie night.”

Specific: The goal explains a process to incentivize accomplishments and stay motivated.

Measurable: Monitor how the rewards help motivate and maintain focus.

Attainable: Rewarding oneself is achievable and proven to boost motivation.

Relevant: Celebrating achievements encourages positive reinforcement and self-confidence.

Time-based: This goal is set within four months for an upcoming race.

celebrate win

6. Improve Running Mileage

“Over the course of a year, I will gradually increase my running mileage by 10% each month. I’ll make sure to properly warm up and cool down each time I go for a run.”

Specific: The aim is to improve running mileage by a specified percentage each month.

Measurable: Ensure you maintain a running log and check for symptoms of overuse injuries.

Attainable: Increasing running mileage by 10% monthly is doable with proper planning and careful monitoring.

Relevant: Boosting mileage can promote physical fitness and build endurance.

Time-based: Goal completion is anticipated over one year.

7. Reduce Injuries

“Over the course of a year, I will reduce my incidence of running-related injuries by 50%. I will incorporate proper warm-up techniques, stretching routines, and recovery practices into my running routine.”

Specific: The goal specifies the outcome (a 50% reduction in running-related injuries) and the strategies (proper warm-up techniques, stretching routines, and recovery practices).

Measurable: You should follow the three listed action items for lasting success.

Attainable: Lowering running-related injuries is feasible with training and attention to injury prevention techniques.

Relevant: Reducing injuries can foster health and longevity, allowing individuals to meet their running objectives.

Time-based: One whole year is required to accomplish this particular goal.

8. Try New Terrain

“I will challenge myself mentally and physically by running on different terrains for at least one race this year. I want to test my endurance and strength by running on different surfaces to help improve my overall performance.”

Specific: You are challenging yourself to run on various terrains.

Measurable: Take note of the type of terrain you’re running on during your race.

Attainable: Given sufficient training, this goal is definitely feasible.

Relevant: This ambition aligns with your objective of testing endurance and strength.

Time-based: Your goal statement should be achievable within one year.

9. Find a Coach or Mentor

“To improve my running performance and technique, I will find a qualified coach or mentor by the end of two months to help me become a better runner.”

Specific: The goal is clear and specifies a mentor or coach who can help improve running performance and technique.

Measurable: The runner can assess improvement through tangible results, such as time and distance.

Attainable: You should be able to free up time to research coaching opportunities and mentors.

Relevant: This is pertinent to becoming a better runner as it will provide guidance and support.

Time-based: You want to reach goal achievement after two months.

10. Train for a Race

“I will register for a half-marathon race and train for it by the end of four months. I will run 3-4 times a week and stretch my muscles after each session. I’ll also log my runs to stay on track with my training schedule.”

Specific: You aim to register for a half-marathon race and complete the necessary training.

Measurable: They will run 3-4 times weekly and document their progress with a log.

Attainable: This is viable because the person is taking active steps toward achieving it.

Relevant: The goal relates to the individual’s fitness and running ambitions.

Time-based: Four months are needed to accomplish success.

11. Visualize Success

“I’ll make sure to visualize success before and during every run. As I reflect upon my goals, I want to see myself achieving these goals and succeeding. Doing this will enable me to stay inspired and encouraged throughout my journey.”

Specific: The goal entails visualizing success before and during every run.

Measurable: You can count how often you practice visualization before and during runs.

Attainable: Visualizing success before and during every run is feasible.

Relevant: Staying inspired and encouraged are necessary for motivation.

Time-based: Consider this an ongoing effort. It should become an integral part of your running routine.

12. Upgrade Gear and Clothing

“I want to upgrade my running gear and clothing to better suit my needs as a runner for this quarter. That includes having proper running shoes, moisture-wicking clothing, and gear to help me stay comfortable and safe during my runs.”

Specific: This involves purchasing running gear and clothing to suit the needs of a runner.

Measurable: Shopping for and acquiring new gear can be evaluated.

Attainable: Upgrading gear and clothing is an achievable goal for this quarter.

Relevant: Proper running attire can make a huge difference in running performance and comfort.

Time-based: The target completion date for this certain goal is one quarter.

13. Adopt a Positive Mindset

“I will consciously think positively and focus on my strengths when I am out for a run. Within two months, I’ll strive to focus on the positive aspects of running, from the beauty of nature to physical fitness.”

Specific: The goal is clear. The individual will make a conscious effort to think positively when running.

Measurable: You can gauge success by checking how often you can focus on the positive aspects of running.

Attainable: If you are dedicated and make a concerted effort, this goal is entirely achievable.

Relevant: The SMART goal fits your desire to have a positive mindset while running.

Time-based: Goal attainment will be reached in two months.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting is a critical factor in achieving running success. Setting SMART goals can help runners develop an optimized training structure while energizing them on the bigger picture.

Remember, the SMART framework is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it is important to tailor them to your fitness level, personal preferences, and abilities. You’ll feel inspired to attain the greatness you rightfully deserve.

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Rei Shen

Rei is the founder of Success in Depth. Based in Washington, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He brings years of experience in goal setting to empower readers to reach their aspirations.