How I Achieved My Goal of Running a Half Marathon

On Sunday morning I crossed the finish line at the Disneyland Half Marathon, completing a 13.1 mile run.  This time last year I couldn’t even imagine running a quarter of a mile, let alone running more than 13 miles. So how does a 43-year-old woman who couldn’t see herself running 1 mile a year ago complete a half marathon?

I used the old tried and true S.M.A.R.T. method for goal attainment and added to that accountability and FUN.  You’ve probably heard of S.M.A.R.T. Goals. It’s simply setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bounded. Here’s how I made S.M.A.R.T. plus accountability and fun work for me.

For at least 20 years I’ve wanted to run, but it wasn’t until last year that I felt inspired to run. I watched a friend, a busy mother of 3, train for and successfully run a 15K. I remember thinking, “If she can do that with her busy schedule, I can too!” And exactly one week after my friend’s successful 15K run, I started a training program called Couch to 5K. Couch to 5K is designed to take people like me from the couch to running 5K (or 3.1 miles). With much sweat and exhilaration, I completed the 9-week Couch to 5K program. And then it hit me. Why not train for a half marathon?

I was S.M.A.R.T., Accountable and FUN in my endeavor to run a half marathon…

Specific. My goal was very specific. I wanted to run a half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. I didn’t want to just run a few days a week, run 3 or 4 miles here and there or “someday run a marathon.”  I didn’t want to run 13.1 miles on local trails. My goal was to run a half marathon in an organized race. Specificity draws us to our goals like a moth is drawn to a flame. Get specific with your goals.

Measurable. Measuring the success of this goal was easy. I’d either successfully run a half marathon or I wouldn’t. Whatever your goal is, have some sort of measuring stick to let you know your progress toward the goal.

Attainable. Achieving goals requires that the goal truly is realistic and doable. Because I’d completed the Couch to 5K program, I knew that I could already run 3.1 miles.  I had developed the habit of running. Starting out from the couch and setting a goal to run a half marathon within 8 weeks may not have been attainable for me. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by setting outlandish goals.  Be easy on yourself by setting goals that are realistic and doable for you at this point in your life.

Relevant. When goals are relevant with other goals in your life and support your short and long-term goals, it’s far easier to focus on and achieve your goals. Physical fitness was an important personal goal for me.  I want more energy to be able to keep up with my 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. I want vitality throughout my life. Running a half marathon was completely relevant to my overall goals.

Time-bounded. When I set out to run a half marathon, I chose a definite event and a definite date. I immediately paid my non-refundable registration fee.  Having a definite date to work for and money on the line helped me to focus on the goal.

And I added accountability and fun to my S.M.A.R.T. goal

ACCOUNTABLE. I got my entire family involved in my training. They all knew that I ran every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and they knew the distance I was to cover in each run. Every Saturday during my 18 weeks of training, my 8-year-old son would meet me at the front door when I returned from my long runs and ask, “Did you do it mom?” With great expectation, he waited to hear me say, “Yes! Mommy did it!” When I’d feel like giving up on long runs, I’d always picture my son’s face. I never wanted to return home to report that I couldn’t finish a run. My son and my entire family held me accountable. Find someone to hold you accountable to your goals and if possible, put something on the line that will make it hard for you to give up on achieving your goal.

FUN. I made achieving my goal fun! I selected the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim as the destination for my run. That way, the entire family would get to enjoy it. (This destination also kept me from backing out because my kids were so excited about going to Disneyland.) How might you make achieving your goal fun and exciting?

Try setting S.M.A.R.T., Accountable and FUN goals. When you do, you’re certain to achieve your goals. Good luck!