Summary: In this post we highlights why and how you can make your goals SMART.  As an example Nanning applies the SMART approach to running the Barcelona  marathon.

How to be a high-achiever: 5 elements to set S.M.A.R.T. goals

Author: Nanning Jacobs
Reading time: 5 minutes

On a personal matter I have recently chosen to run the marathon of Barcelona on the 12th of March 2017. And to raise the bar a bit further; I want to run it within 3 hours; the magical time for a semi amateur! I would like to use the preparation for the marathon and the best practices from this personal experience.

Discipline is the fuel of achievement

It all starts by selecting a goal that can be defined in a SMART way. Which means, your goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

In the example of running the Barcelona marathon in 3 hours, this implies:

  • Specific
    • Running a distance of 42 kilometers and 195 meters in Barcelona on the 12th of March. In addition; in November 2016, when I enrolled myself, I weigh 69 kilo’s. So next to training and becoming a temporary top athlete, I want to gain 3 kilo’s to achieve 72 kilo’s. Why adding this extra goal? Personally I do not like the stereotype endurance athlete body’s. Therefore I added 2 times per week a fitness scheme (especially for core body training) and swimming (great condition training and sport with the fewest injuries). Please find below the specifics of my sport training scheme. In order to achieve this I have to eat a well-balanced diet of 3300 calories on a daily basis. Want to know how? Read this in our third article by clicking “here”.

Personally I do not like the stereotype endurance athlete body’s

  •  Achievable
    • That’s a big question and it all depends on the right training, food and mental toughness. The greater the goal the harder it is to achieve this. Whether you want to buy a house, travel around the world or run the marathon. You will need to change your routines to be able to finance, prepare and trains respectively. For the marathon it’s a whole new lifestyle in case you are used to the frequent drinks, bites and late night entertainments in the city center. It can be hard to put these temporarily on a hold. Especially in the end phase of your training, try to limit these as much as possible. The biggist mistake is the Fear Of Missing Out! Perhaps you should look at it this way; if you are missing out now (changing your routines) perhaps you can enjoy it even more after achieving your goal!
  • Measurable
    5 elements SMART goals

    5 elements SMART goals

    • The result can be expressed in time vs. km’s. The average required speed is 4 minutes and 17 seconds per kilometer. But please do not forget to measure your food consumption. There are many websites where you can interactively fill in your consumptions – calorie intake per day. They split it up in:
      • Total Energie, Fats, Carbs, Proteins, Sugars, a.o.
      • A tool I use a lot can be found here:
  • Relevant
    • In my opinion it’s a relevant life experience that enables you to get to know the limits of your body and mental toughness. The key reason a marathon became part of the Olympic program in 1986 is that endurance challenges requires a collaboration between both physical and mental statement.
  • Time bound
    • If you see running the Barcelona marathon as a project there is a clear project deadline on the 12th of March. As preparation can start up to 6-9 months in advance a carefully planned and professional training schedule should be put in place to bring you in small steps to the greater goal. The individual steps can already be confrontational as training is as important as the actual marathon or your final goal. For this reason you better enjoy the saying “Enjoy the road toward crushing your goals”.  Apart from the bigger picture planning the time bounds per individual training are key. Time measurement is key!

Enjoy the road toward crushing your goals

After defining your goal in a SMART way you now know what to expect from yourself. Training, discipline, change your routines, strengthen your body and mind and put time and energy into it. The great thing is that you will really get to know yourself and the limits of your body. The overall tip is to carefully listen to your body and knowing when you are able to “overrule” efforts mentally. As with training and achieving goals you mentally need to push yourself and get your body into action. This feels contra intuitive but you can stretch it. On the other hand, do it step by step to prevent injuries (in the context of sports). You will learn how to find the right balance along the way!

For those that did  not run a marathon before please note the following in order to have a mental benchmark. In training it is not advised to go further than 32-34 kilometers. Even though you will have to run an entire 42? Say what? A gap op 10 kilometers, how does that work? Exactly, a bit mind blowing!

The main reason is that your body is able to  turn carbs and sugars into energy during the first 32 – 34 kilometers. After that your body gets to a tipping point where it starts to burn your muscles. For this reason you limit your trainings to 32 kilometers. For the same reason professional athletes only do 1 or 2 marathons a year as recovery is required after achieving the 42km challenge.

And with respect to the mental benchmark; imagine you are feeling sorry for yourself in an endurance training of 26 km. What to expect physically or mentally when hitting 37 km’s at the actual marathon, without reserves, burning your muscle , exhausted and with another 5 km’s to go.. 😉 Well; luckily adrenaline will get you going together with you great character, right?

Finally a thought to remember; once you cross that finish line or you achieve your great SMART goal, you can truly experience satisfaction and get back to your social drinking routines 😉