As an endurance athlete, you’re good at setting long-term goals and achieving them.
But when the grind sets in and your motivation wanes because the road’s mundane, routine, and boring, you might tell yourself that it’s not worth it anymore.
Even high achievers need a boost of motivation when goals appear unreachable.
You’ll learn how to stay focused on long-term goals by tweaking your goal-setting to keep you energized and focused.
How much time do you have?
It’s tempting to approach goals with an all-or-nothing mindset. You’re either working toward your goal or you’re not.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Before racing season begins, take stock of the other demands on your time-work, family, and health.
Will you have a project at work that will place heavy demands on your time? Long family vacations on the horizon? Are you healthy or will you need to dedicate time to rehabilitating an injury?
When you look at your projected training calendar, can you handle the daily time commitment this season?
If you can’t dedicate massive blocks of training, then choose one thing to improve that will give you the biggest gains to enhance your overall performance.
It could mean strength training to reduce your injury risk, incorporating speed work to reduce your half-marathon time, or refining your technique to become more efficient.
For success, what you do is just as important as what you don’t do.
How to Stay Focused on Long-Term Goals
It’s a balancing act for setting goals
Goals that are too easy are boring while goals that are too difficult are stressful and overwhelming. Both are easy to abandon.
Ran your first half-marathon in 2:05? Running another half-marathon with the same time goal doesn’t challenge your physical abilities.
Aim to whittle your time from 2:05 to 1:30? You’ll get there, but it’s best to take small, incremental steps to avoid over training and becoming discouraged.
Consider this advice from Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi:
Your goal should be attainable within a reasonable time frame.
You might eventually get down to 1:30, but it’s most likely going to occur in stages: from 2:05 to 1:58, then 1:48, then 1:43, and so on.
Long-distance running is not the sport for people who crave instant gratification.”
– Meb Keflezighi
Here’s how to find goals that are challenging, yet realistic.
First, find your baseline fitness and decide what you want to improve upon. Then, train slightly outside your current abilities.
At every practice, I would try to beat myself.
If my coach gave me ten 100s one day and asked be to hold 1:15, then the next day when he gave me ten 100s, I’d try to hold 1:14”
– Olympic gold medal swimmer Rowdy Gains, Grit
Dropping a few seconds may seem inconsequential, but these small gains build over time into stunning results.
How to give yourself a motivational boost when you’re working toward your long-term goal
A detailed training log book helps you become ultra-specific in your training and serves as a source of motivation.
Your log book is your personalized guidebook that provides insight into what’s working and what’s not. It’s where you record specifics such as mileage, heart rate, mood, weather, what you ate, and your recovery time.
Soon, you’ll spot patterns and trends you might normally overlook.
Training for a marathon and need to decode your fueling strategy? When armed with your information, you’ll find – for example – that you must consume an energy gel every 3 miles to avoid hitting the wall.
Finally, your training book is solid proof of your progress and hard work. When you see your successes while pursuing challenging, yet achievable goals, you’re much more likely to persist.
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Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
Track Your Small Wins to Motivate Big Accomplishments [VIDEO], Teresa Amabile
How to Set Good Running Goals, Runner’s World
The Champion Mindset: An Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness, Joanna Zeiger, Ph.D.