Autumn Training Goals

Weekly reminders about hi-viz and cross-country?! Summer is most definitely over!

As runners, this period can easily be overlooked. Too soon to start training properly for a spring marathon? Too tired from an autumn marathon? Too muddy from cross-country? Too cold and wet to feel enthusiastic about training? Soon, it’s the week before Ricky Road run and we’re wondering how we’re going to run a 10 mile PB when we haven’t really done anything different to last year!

Autumn can actually be a fantastic time to take a step back to look at your running and set some new goals that are easily achievable in the months before Christmas. It can be used as an opportunity to experiment with different aspects of your running.

Most people want to see an improvement in their running over time whilst remaining enthusiastic about training. Being a better runner doesn’t just mean running faster. Think about all the elements of running and how these can be changed and improved to make you a better runner:

Planning and organisation
Rest and recovery

Take a look back over your running during the summer and write down all of the things you did well. These are important to recognise and sometimes under-celebrated. Maybe you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone by testing out a quicker pace over the shorter reps? Did you consistently attend training? Did you help someone else with their running which boosted your confidence?

Then it’s time to focus on the areas you’d like to improve. Try and move away from just wanting to get faster or run further. What elements of your training from the above list do you feel you could improve on that will get you there?

Now you’ve got an idea of what you do well and what you feel you can improve on – how can you put that into practice over the next few months?

Focus on a couple of non-running goals (i.e. nutrition and sleep) and a couple of running goals (i.e. pacing and form) and be quite specific about how you are going to achieve them.

“When I am training at GVH in the evening, I am going to make sure I have lunch and an afternoon snack so I come to training full of energy and ready to train.”

“For all reps sessions I am going to make sure I am aware of my target time and aim to consistently achieve this pace.”

“On Thursday tempo runs I am really going to push myself so I am working outside of my current comfort zone.”

What sort of help may you need to achieve these? There is plenty you can do yourself to help achieve your goals and work together in your groups to inspire, drive and motivate each other.

How will you know you have achieved these goals?

First step – get a diary! This is for your eyes only and you can write in it whatever you feel will be useful to you. You will use it to plan your autumn training.

Write your newly formed goals at the beginning of your plan then start filling in any race dates you have, cross-country fixtures, GVH sessions you are going to attend and any holidays, events or work schedule that could mean a change to your training.

You can then start mapping out your longer runs to reflect the race distances you are going to have to run (you may have to look forward into January also) and any recovery time following a race.

Wherever you have time write specific goals for each session. We will always provide pace or effort guidelines for your Tuesday session and you can add in your own goals on top of these and for your remaining runs. Having a secondary goal which isn’t always pace or distance focussed will help to give you a sense of achievement when your run or race doesn’t go quite to plan.

An example might be that you are working to achieve a specific pace during your Thursday tempo run but having discovered you are a little tired from a race the weekend you revert to your secondary goal of staying relaxed whilst running up the hills rather than slogging away trying to push a pace that just isn’t going to work for you on that day.

At the end of each run, write down how it went. How did you feel? What was your distance and pace? What did you eat prior to the run that may have helped or hindered? What do you want to improve on next time? If you’re short on time, just write a score out of 10 for how you felt the run went.

Over time this training diary can help you determine when you are coming ‘into form’ and that might be a good time to attempt a PB. It can also help to spot any potential niggles or fatigue problems that need addressing before they stop you running completely.

Don’t let your autumn training go to waste, use it to achieve something in your running so after a break at Christmas you’re ready for your next challenge!