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What to do when you don’t have a running goal

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

I recently had a chat with someone about what it’s like running without having a specific goal to train for. It’s the first time in a couple of years I haven’t had an ‘A race’ on the horizon, and my race results have definitely been up and down. But it has meant I’ve had the opportunity to do a few things I don’t always get to. Here are my things to do when you’re not training for a specific running goal.

Run with other people – When you don’t have a goal, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out for a run. In the last few weeks, whenever Marty has got up for a morning run, I’ve made myself get up to go with him. Since I don’t have a specific race that I’m training for, I’m happy to join in with whatever he is doing. This morning, when he didn’t get up to run, I snoozed my alarm then lay in bed for half an hour before finally going. It’s definitely easier to get something done when you join other people, and will help you stay fit and maintain your base.

Help a friend with their training – A few times this year, I’ve joined friends on their training runs. Similar to running with Marty, it was a great way to keep running consistently (because nothing is more important keeping up good habits), and it was also really nice to be able to help other people with their training.

Do something different – When you aren’t working towards a specific goal, it can be a great opportunity to try different things. When I’ve been in between races in the past, I have done a couple of races on the track. This year, I finally got the opportunity to do a relay event, which I’d been thinking about for awhile. I’m also thinking of entering a trail race later in the year. Things like these are a good opportunity to try something new, have fun and keep up your running.

Image of me pacing a 5km race on the track
Pacing a 5km race on the track

Cross train – A few years ago when I had a bit of a break from running, I started doing a Body Balance class at the gym (which I loved). I struggle to fit other types of training in around running and working, and things like gym classes are often the first thing to go when my running load increases. I try to replace them with a bit of strength work at home, but if you aren’t training as much as normal, it’s a great time to fit in some other types of exercise.

Volunteer at parkrun – When you’re preparing for a race, it can be hard to skip your Saturday morning run. But when you’re having some down time, it’s a great time to also get your volunteer duties in at parkrun! When I ran the Berlin marathon, we were also building up to run our 100th parkrun at Bushy in London, and couldn’t really miss any runs. I even walked Rhodes parkrun after I had been up all night vomiting to make sure we would get to 100. Then, when we got home, I squeezed in my three volunteer days in the last two months of the year.

For something slightly different, I also wrote about setting goals that don’t involve PBs.

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