What is Your 5 Year Running Goal?

Yesterday I read an article on iRunFar called, “Qualities of a Skilled Ultramarathon Coach.” It’s a good read because it’s not just an outline of qualities that make a good coach, but also points out things that runners need to know about themselves in order to reach their goals (whether they have a coach or not).

It prompted me to ask myself:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be in five years?
  • What are you running from and what are you running towards?

Where Are You Now & Where Do You Want to Be in 5 Years?

The article says, “a skilled coach will prioritize long-term goals, always keeping the end in mind.”

The writer includes a quote from Sean Harnett his collegiate coach who says, “I coach based on what my athletes will think of me five years after they’ve graduated.”

Whether you have a coach or are a coach, I think this is a good rule to follow.


Five years from now I want to be running ultramarathons.

In five years if I can run a 29 minute 5K but I can’t finish a 50-miler I’ll know I wasn’t focused enough on my long-term goals!

What Are You Running From? What Are You Running Towards?

The article talks about a runner’s need to understand what he or she is running from and running towards.

“Running in general – and ultrarunning in particular – draws people in search of healing. Often we run from previous addiction, abuse or poor health, or run toward strength, self-worth, community and affirmation.”

It goes on to say a skilled coach must know how running fulfills these aspects of a runner’s life — but really, in my opinion it’s the athlete who must know how running fulfills these aspects of their own life. I’m not sure that’s really the coach’s responsibility.


Most long term readers know of my history battling with an eating disorder, and I most definitely find running to be therapeutic.

I’m not saying I use running in place of professional help because that would be wrong, but I definitely identify with other athletes who are running away from previous demons and running toward health, strength and affirmation.

Here are some things I have been running toward:

-A me who isn’t afraid of embracing her running aspirations despite others perhaps thinking that she doesn’t fit the mold of an athlete.

-A me who BELIEVES that I can meet the running challenges I set forth for myself.

-A me who isn’t devastated or completely embarrassed by athletic failures, but rather understands that people of all athletic abilities have bad days.

-A me who feels confident being alone without a million distractions.

-Happiness, health, enjoyment of the outdoors.

-Being part of a positive community of people.

Most of the items in the list are things I am still working on, but I am making progress!

When I first starting doing Couch to 5K I was too embarrassed to tell anyone (other than Adam) because I thought they would laugh at me. I was even too embarassed to run outside because I thought all the other runners would make fun of me. Instead I just used the treadmill during the hours I knew the gym would be empty. Now I tell everyone I meet that I’m a runner!

Although, most people still don’t know that I have a running blog that I overshare in each day! 🙂 Maybe someday I’ll tell them!

What is YOUR 5-year running goal? Do you prefer to set short-term goals? Do you prefer to just run for the enjoyment and not set any goals at all?



  1. October 16, 2014 / 5:57 am

    I love the reasons you run! My 5 year running goal is just to be injury free and still loving running. If I happen to get faster along the way, awesome! If not, no biggie, I do it for pure enjoyment. =)

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:24 pm

      I love that! I often wonder if I would get more enjoyment out of running if I never signed up for another race ever again. I think I could be happy just increasing my distance and doing my own thing… but I really want to cross the finish line of a 50-miler. After that I may retire from races for the rest of my life and just run! It sure would save me a lot of money! 🙂

  2. October 16, 2014 / 6:21 am

    Wow, from being embarrassed to run outside to having a hugely successful running blog? That is MAJOR progress! I really like these thought provoking questions and I look forward to coming back and reading everyone’s comments. My 5 year goal is to simply be able to continue running and be injury free. What am I running from? Stress and background noise. But mostly I just run because I like it. What am I running toward? Self confidence and the feeling that I can tackle anything life throws at me!

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:27 pm

      It’s so much easier to talk about running to online friends here on the blog than with my real life people. I still feel shy (?) talking about my goals with them!

      I love how running gives us the confidence that we can handle hard things in other areas of our lives.

  3. October 16, 2014 / 6:49 am

    I have short term goals, but haven’t really thought of long term goals (beyond a year or so). I have a wish list of running items – I know I would like to run a half in every state, some time goals, bucket list races, etc. Good thought exercise Kristina.

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:28 pm

      I hope you come back to South Florida for another race! It would be so awesome to meet up!

      I’ll need your top tips for the Miami half soon!!

  4. October 16, 2014 / 7:15 am

    I was like that too! I was so afraid of running outside because I thought everyone else would laugh at me because I was so slow and constantly had to switch between running and walking, running and walking. I was also scared people would think I looked stupid in my workout clothes haha. But I did it anyway because going to the gym would be a whole lot worse – because I work there, so my co-workers would see me and I didn’t want them to make fun of me. Rather strangers than the people I knew I’d see the next day haha 🙂 That’s also why I only ran when I was at my boyfriend’s place, and not when I was at my parents’ – I was so scared of running into people I used to go to school with or any of my neighbours or friends. Looking back that all feels so silly! 🙂
    My 5-year running goal.. I haven’t really thought about it a whole lot, but while reading this post the first thing that popped into my head was “being able to run a race on my own”. So far I’ve been too chicken to do it without my mom and/or dad, but I know I can’t rely on them as my runningpartners for the rest of my life. So for me it would be a great achivement to be able to not get so nervous when I’m alone in a setting like that. I love setting goals, it gives me something to work hard for. Personally I feel like I NEED both short-term and long-term goals. Wheter it’s races, or just time-goals, I need them. The winter in Norway is hell for people like me who hates the cold and who has got a quite shitty immune system.. I’m not a fan of treadmill runs, so if it hadn’t been for my “short-term” goal to run a half marathon in March there’s no way I’d be able to push myself out the door 7 o’clock, 5 times a week for almos 3 months. I knew I had a marathon this fall, but if I didn’t have the halfie in between I’d just tell myself “I can start running again when the show melts” – yeah right. Blah blah, sorry for writing the longest comment ever, not sure why, but I feel so bad every time I write extremely long comments. Anywaaaayyy, this post really made me think, thank you 🙂

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:37 pm

      I completely know what you mean about wanting to run in areas where you could AVOID seeing anyone you know. Doesn’t that whole thing seem so silly now? Runners are some of the most accepting bunch of people and so encouraging of beginners!

      Do you have any running friends? Maybe you could sign up for a race with one of them instead of your parents and then eventually sign up for one alone! Really you’re never alone though! Every long distance race i’ve finished (which is only three i guess, haha) I’ve found someone to talk to in the middle!

      I believe in long and short-term goals too, for sure! My short-term goals are just stepping stones to my long-term goals though. Like, I want to run a faster half marathon but I’m not spending too much time or energy trying to get SUPER fast, just fast enough that I can run a stronger marathon+!

      Don’t feel bad about long comments at all, I love them!!!

  5. October 16, 2014 / 8:31 am

    I think that my biggest 5 year running goal is to be running happy and healthy! Along the way, I would love to get faster in all distances. Of course the BQ would be awesome but its honestly not a priority for me. I would rather focus on personal improvements and running the best I can rather then putting too much focus on a specific goal time.

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:38 pm

      I think you will most definitely get a BQ within the next five years if you decide it’s something you really want – you’re already such a fast and strong runner!

  6. October 16, 2014 / 9:34 am

    Thought provoking post…
    5 year goal= to run 50 miler, and a “stage race”
    What am I running towards–healthy, happy, energetic living, being a good example for my kids
    What am I running from? Poor self-confidence, fear of health/weight issues in my family

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:40 pm

      You are a great role model for your kids! Just from your blog and comments I can see that you’ve instilled in them a love for being active (and competitive)! I really wish my parents had encouraged me to pursue sports more when I was younger. I played volleyball and enjoyed it a lot but I chose it because it was the sport where I had to run the least! haha

  7. October 16, 2014 / 9:45 am

    Geez why do we have to think lol, this is a really great post. I find that a lot of people are embarrassed when they first start, we are self conscious about the unknown and uncomfortable. And agree 100% that running is a healthy substitute to many of our past lifestyles.

    I haven’t thought all my goals out so your stealing a future blog post lol…but…short term is the marathon in February and my first ultra in April or May timeframe. Five year goal would be to qualify for Boston and running ultra marathons consistently.

    Great post today!!

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:41 pm

      Dude you are TOTALLY going to BQ *and* run tons of ultras. You’re such a strong runner and you’ve progressed so quickly! I’m jealous! But I know you put in the hard work to see those awesome results!

  8. October 16, 2014 / 12:07 pm

    My 5 year goal is to qualify for Boston. Even if I don’t end up running it, I want to be able to say that I qualified, that I can hang with the best of them.

    I think I am “running from” a general feeling of aimlessness. I don’t have a job that I love, and I don’t get the same sense of productivity and value from working that everyone else seems to get. I never really connected with a clique of close friends, or any of the other social activities I was doing, and I was beginning to feel like I had no passion in life because I just couldn’t become attached to or invested in anything.

    Then I found running, and now I think I am “running toward” the things running gives me: structure, routine, the satisfaction and accomplishment of setting and achieving goals, being able to see the results of my hard work, finding something I’m good at that I can work hard to become even better at.

    In a world where so much of our success is based on luck, popularity, personality, likability, circumstance and other fickle things, running is the one place I can go to find a true meritocracy. You can’t charm or network your way to a PR or a first place finish, you have to earn it.

    Great post!

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:45 pm

      You had an awesome marathon debut! I can definitely see a BQ in your future well before the five year mark! You killed it during training and as someone fairly new to running you still have so much progress to make from this base point. I’m really excited to follow along as you keep meeting and beating the challenges you set forth for yourself! Go Hanna!

  9. October 16, 2014 / 3:09 pm

    Asking the hard questions! wow… Once again, you are so impressive. I only kind of, sort of, barely, can think about my 5 year running goals, but your post has me thinking that I should! After all, they aren’t going to happen on their own.

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:46 pm

      I LOVE broad, big picture goals! The pressure of short-term goals stresses me out! haha

      • October 17, 2014 / 9:24 am

        After reading your post I started writing my own (crediting you of course) about my 5 year running goal. And… I’m afraid to post it! I’m scared to commit those words, my hopes and dreams for the future, to be visible on the internet for everyone (ok, like 5 people) to see. I could use some of your courage right now, that’s for sure. Maybe I’ll feel braver after my next race…

        • October 19, 2014 / 10:17 pm

          Lizzy, I hope you share your 5 year running goal on the blog soon! Making goals and putting them out there adds pressure for sure, but I think it’s good pressure, the kind that will motivate us on the days when we just want to stay on the couch!

  10. October 16, 2014 / 3:54 pm

    Your running story and dreams are inspiring, Kristina. I love how honest and real you are when expressing yourself. That is really interesting that a lot of people don’t know about your blog – I am the same way! A couple of my friends and family know, but I don’t really talk about it otherwise. 🙂

    I always set goals when running, because they challenge me, give me some guidance and help me recover when things don’t go as planned. My long term running goal was to get to Boston… the short term goals help me more with the day-to-day. I think it is important to have both short term and long-term goals. I always tell my students, having short-term goals without long-term goals is like climbing a staircase with no end in sight. A long-term goal without short-term goals is like seeing the top of the staircase, but having no steps to take you there. Both are equally important.

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:51 pm

      I completely agree that we need the balance of short-term and long-term goals. My short term goals all support my long-term goals though. For instance I would love to train for a sub-30 minute 5K, but that would require a lot of time and energy focusing on getting faster at short distances. Instead I’d like to get a little faster at the half marathon distance (and marathon distance) to support my goal of running a decently strong 50-miler. I filter my short-term goals through my long-term goal glasses… but someday I’m going to run a sub-30 minute 5K! 😉

      I love your story too — from the reason why you ran you first marathon through your transition to tris and Iron Man races! Your story and the way it’s unfolding is really one of the very best in the run blog world!

  11. October 16, 2014 / 8:38 pm

    Great reasons for why you run.
    At this point, my 5 year running goal is simple – I just want to keep running strong and healthy. I know that might be lame as a goal but it works for me – if I do a race or 2 great if not I’m OK with it.

    • October 16, 2014 / 11:52 pm

      I don’t think that’s a lame goal at all!

      I’m obsessed with the idea of trying to get to 50 miles, but after that I may retire from races and just run for the love of it! Maybe throw in a race here or there every few years just to remind me of what it’s like to run with other people!

  12. October 17, 2014 / 5:43 pm

    This is so beautiful and genuine, Kristina. I love your goals…especially that so many of them can be reached through running but aren’t just ABOUT running, you know?

    We teach the 7 Habits to our students and one of them is “Begin with the end in mind”. It’s so true. I plan my lessons based on what I want the kids to learn for the END of 8th grade. I plan my training for the race at the END. Looking into the future is such an important means to reaching our goals.