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Set Your Fitness Goals for Training and Sport

Make 2017 the year you achieve your goals, as trail-running journalist Kelly Lucas explains

Whether you’re a seasoned racegoer, a weekend warrior or like to jog the middle line, so to speak, setting realistic goals is without doubt one of the best ways to get the most out of your running.


With the whole year in front of you, now is the perfect time to set out your plans for the year ahead.


Before you start dreaming of winning that early season 5k or spring marathon, however, have a think about the sort of goals you want to set.


While it’s nice to imagine finishing your first half marathon or even placing in a race, the reality is that even for people who might have the speed to top the leader board, on race day, there are a multitude of outside factors that can affect your result.


So rather than focusing on the result of a single race, try to think more about your training and performance overall.

TOP TIPS FOR SETTING GOALS


It’s an old adage but based on solid research – make sure you set goals that are specific and measurable.



  1. Rather than saying ‘I want to get faster’, pick a distance and decide how fast you want to run it. A brilliant way to do this is to join your local running club to do a weekly timed 5k.

  2. Be realistic but push yourself. If you’re unsure about what this may be, ask around or have a look on social media groups. Find someone who has posted similar race times to you in the past and look at times they have achieved recently.

  3. Choose something new. If you’ve been struggling to run a 10k in under one hour for a while now, it might be time to try a different distance. If you are getting bored with roads or track runs, have a look for local trails in your area.

  4. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be about speed. For some, an inspirational goal is to see how far they can run, for others it might be about ticking off places to explore on foot, such as Wendover Woods in the Chiltern Hills or Lake Windermere in the Lake District.


THINK OUTSIDE THE TRACK


There are lots of ways to improve your running and they don’t always involve... well, running.



  1. Swimming boosts endurance and offers an excellent alternative way to train if you’re injured. It also increases oxygen capacity – you can only breathe at certain times, encouraging your body to be more efficient in using oxygen and is a great way to practise active recovery.


  2. Cycling is a great way to increase leg strength and get your legs used to moving at a higher cadence.


  3. Yoga not only strengthens your all-important core, it also improves flexibility and range of motion, which is integral to keeping your body healthy and injury free.



I’M ALL SET, BUT HOW DO I STICK TO THEM?

The New Year can be a fantastic time to set resolutions but the joke about gyms being full in the first week of January and empty by the last has sadly become a reality in many cases. So while it’s great to head into 2017 armed with a list of things you are ‘definitely going to do this year’, don’t get too hung up on a resolutions list.



  1. Don’t find time to exercise – make time. Many of us are incredibly busy, but you can almost always make time – you just have to be willing to sacrifice something else.

  2. Try and include exercise in your commute and check out Cyclescheme to find out if you can get help with the cost of a bicycle.

  3. Get into a routine – it can take a few weeks to establish a habit, but be consistent and patient. Scheduling workouts can help.

  4. Use mind games to get yourself active – try visualising yourself running strongly into the finish line of a race and how that would make you feel, or think about how you can reward yourself when you tick off achievements, such as 30 laps in a pool session.

  5. Find a group to train with – most cities and towns have local running clubs. Training with other people can make all the difference when you’re deciding whether to head out on a cold and windy morning run or early swim.

  6. Even better, make a pact with a friend. Decide what you want to achieve and how you’re going to encourage each other and make a commitment together.

  7. Go public! Most of us have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat page, so put them to good use. Studies show that making our intentions public can improve the likelihood we’ll stick to them by a whopping 50%. If you’ve decided to team up with a friend, nominate each other with #GetSpeedoFit and support each other and other runners going for their 2017 goals online.

USE SWIMMING TO REALISE YOUR GOALS


Knowing how fast, how far and which strokes are the right ones for you in the pool is as important as planning a gym session. Speedo has created Swim Coach: personalised swimming plans that can help you focus your pool sessions, whether you are a runner, a cyclist or love yoga. Pick from a range of goals – endurance, recovery, improving flexibility, firming up leg muscles and more. The session can last for 30, 60 or 90 minutes, plus you can select your ability level so there is something for everyone.


Please consult your GP or doctor before starting any new training regime