Setting training goals

Some helpful advice to goal setting around distances, training and races.

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Chiltern Hills guide Tim Mills shares his advice on setting training goals

We completed our first LSR (long slow run) on Sunday and it was good to hear the buzz from fellow runners talking about upcoming plans, challenges and goals.

So I wanted to lend some helpful advice to goal setting around distances, training and races.

The key to goal setting is for it to be motivating and not detrimental to your training. I have made the mistake in the past of setting over ambitious goals and then always playing catch up, adding significant stress to my runs.

Set three goals

Setting three differentiated targets removes the win/lose situation and allows you to have a range of goals you can switch between, dependant on your progress. After dedicating 4 months of training the last thing you want to do is cross the line and feel disappointed.


Goal A

A slightly ambitious target which could be achieved if all you training, nutrition & hydration plans go perfectly, and with no injuries. Example: 3h15 marathon time.

Goal B

A target you think is achievable when you first start training. This should be your main focus and reviewed every 6 weeks. (Maybe with a Yasso 800 workout). Example: 3h30 marathon time.

Goal C

A very achievable target, this could be a slower time or simply to complete the race.


This method of simple goal setting can be applied in all training situations, whether that's intervals, tempos or LSRs.

It is especially helpful with all the variables that come with running; weather, terrain, stress, injury, lack of sleep. Before each training session choose a goal (A,B,C) that makes sense and adjust your pace and expectations accordingly.

Remember putting too much pressure on yourself before or during a run increases stress levels and your body will react negatively.

Thanks for reading and we can chat about it more on the trails.

Join Tim on the Chiltern Hills trails in February

Post written by

Tim Mills

Chiltern Hills trail guide

Chilterns local Tim has a background in teaching & coaching as well as holding awards in athletics & orienteering.

He began running seriously 5 years ago after the birth first child, starting with 5k/10k local road races to lose a few extra pounds. Shortly after he signed up for his first trail marathon, deciding that's where running should taking place!

Now his mission is to convert everyone he meets to the beauty of the trails.

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