Runners, set your goals

What are you running for? Do you have a goal in mind, or is it just a habit by now?

Setting goals can liven up your running and help you achieve peak performance. But, you need to be sure to set them properly.

Goals can take many forms. The most obvious is pace: you want to finish a 5K or 10K in a certain time. However, there are other types of goals you can set: to finish a race without walking, to train so many times per week or to remain injury-free. It all depends on where you are at.

This is the first imperative of goal setting: understand yourself. Sometimes what you need most is a regular training schedule — and sometimes, you are ready to try to set that personal record.

Next, make the goal achievable, but not easy. An unrealistic goal undermines itself, since you can’t take it seriously from the start. An easy goal is hardly worth the effort. Getting this part right requires being honest with yourself, which is why this is the hardest part of goal setting.

Goal setting also requires patience. A meaningful goal should take several weeks or months to achieve — a period of sustained focus with a payoff at the end. You can establish benchmarks along the way, targets that you should achieve if you are truly en route to your goal. Miss a benchmark, and you have more work to do.

Last year, recovering from injury, my goal was simple: finish a race without walking. The goal I have in mind for this fall is more ambitious: I’d like to finish a 5K in under 25 minutes. The tricky part is that, after 40 years of competitive running, my legs can’t take too much punishment. I only run every third day. To improve my pace on that training schedule, I must make each training run count.

July seems like an odd time for goal setting, but the fall is right ahead. The condition in which you enter September will govern the kinds of goals you can strive for. The right time for goal setting is now.

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Upcoming Races

July 27 - Dog Days 5K and 1-Mile, 8 a.m., Elkins Lake Sub-division, Huntsville. Entry $2, $1 for Seven Hills Running Club members.

August 24 - Heatwave 5K and 1-Mile, 8 a.m., Waterwood Sub-division, 14 miles east of Huntsville. Start and finish at the Waterwood Fire Station. Entry $2, $1 for SHRC members.

October 19 - 41st Annual Huntsville Half & Quarter Marathon & 5K Run/Walk, 8 a.m., Walker County Fairgrounds.

(See for additional races and links to individual race websites.)

Recent Race Results

July 4 - Stu’s Country Mile 5K, Centerville

Steve Allen 23:02 (1st in AG)

Steven Bickford 23:26 (1st in AG)

Darren Grant 25:42 (2nd in AG)

Daniel Fain 27:38

Donna Freeman 28:06 (2nd in AG)

Danny Freeman 29:35 (1st in AG)

Ben Johnson 31:16

Monica Lopez 34:33

Marcie Grant 39:00 (2nd in AG)

Ken Johnson 43:36 (1st in AG)

Heidi Morse 49:39

Cathy Bickford 49:39

April Russell 54:33

June 22 - 31st Annual Polish Pickle 5K Run, Bremond

Steve Bickford 23:12 (3rd in AG)

Steve Allen 23:31

Donna Freeman 27:22

Danny Freeman 29:38

Ben Johnson 31:57

Ken Johnson 42:49 (2nd in AG)

Cathy Bickford 46:54

June 15 - June Bug 5k Club Run, Huntsville


Chase Foster 21:43

Steve Allen 22:34

Steve Pecina 23:40

John Salmon 29:28

Jeff Johnson 30:35

Kyle Barnard 31:20

Karen Miller 32:50

Bridgette Collins 33:17

Diana Estrada 34:26

Monica Lopez 37:20

Jan Parks 38:42

Bonnie Harder 42:24

Shellie Geer 43:37

Cathy Bickford 49:09

Lois Levingston 51:50


Steven Thomas 10:41

Katherine Thomas 10:43

Hailey Thomas 11:09

Diana Thomas 11:10

Ken Johnson 14:51