It's easy to get caught up in New Year's hype and set grand plans for the coming year. Indeed, goals are an important part of being a runner: They help us focus, progress, and stay on track with our workouts. But establishing a target can be tricky. You want to aim high enough to stay motivated but not so high that you stress out if you fall short. The best solution is to set incremental goals—daily, weekly, and monthly targets that allow you to enjoy regular accomplishments and stay focused on your next step. Aim for the following micro-goals and get on track to a great running year. (Always follow these 10 Golden Rules of Injury Prevention to avoid bumps in your training.)
Get out the door Establish a routine—organize your gear, set your route, and stick to the same time of day so that no matter what, you get a workout in.
End on a high note In the last five to 10 minutes of your run, do something pleasant like looping twice around a beautiful block. Running bestows a sense of joy, so take advantage of such moments.
Looking for some fitness inspiration? Try one of these Total-Body Workouts for Every Fitness Level.
Run three days Three workouts a week is the minimum you need to maintain or improve fitness. Don't worry about how long those sessions are; just do something.
Get specific Assign a function to your runs to improve your fitness. Add a minute or two to build endurance, or a longer hill to build strength. Choose a day to head out without a watch to keep things easy.
Stay on target and motivated—learn how to tune into your own training and be your own coach.
Hit a new target Extend the distance or length of your long run from the month before—there's nothing more empowering than pushing past your endurance barrier. (Learn how to Make the Right Training Goals for you.)
Run a race Having an event on the calendar will get you out running on low motivation days. The positive vibe and upbeat crowd will keep you inspired and introduce you to new running friends.
When you're really ready to ramp up your training, check out our 2013 monthly plan to your fittest year, ever!