Planning for Success: Achieving Your Goals with an Ultramarathon Mindset
Planning for Success: Achieving Your Goals with an Ultramarathon Mindset

It's a new year, and it's time to make those goals a reality. Whether you're aiming for a new personal record or just looking to improve your fitness, creating a solid plan is key to your success. But where to begin? Here are a few tips inspired by ultramarathon running to help you map out your training season and achieve your goals.

  1. Break it down into manageable chunks. Just as a 100-mile ultramarathon can be overwhelming to consider, an entire year's worth of training can feel like a daunting task. To make it more manageable, break it down into smaller, more achievable blocks. Try dividing your year into monthly segments, and set yourself 2-3 challenges for each month. One challenge should be directly related to your goal – for example, a distance or time-based challenge. The other challenges can be indirect, such as a daily meditation or push-up challenge. This approach will help you stay motivated and focused, and allow you to track your progress more easily.

  2. Track your progress. Just like your smartwatch will log your splits, keeping track of your progress towards your goal will be vital to your growth. It’s never a linear path to success, so understanding the peaks and valleys of progress is much easier when you have data on which to reflect. The concrete data is fantastic. Paces, distances and heart rate are fantastic inputs into fancy apps like Strava or Training Peaks. Adding on your own thoughts & inputs can be incredibly helpful. Whether you use a notes feature of an app or keep an old school progress log, keeping track of weekly learnings will serve as an incredible reference point down the road.

  3. Pace yourself. It can be tempting to dive headfirst into your training goals, but remember that it's a long season. Just as you wouldn't sprint the first mile of an ultramarathon, you don't want to burn out too quickly. Instead, focus on building momentum gradually over time. Create monthly training maps to ensure adequate proportion and progression, and be sure to build on each month's progress for continued growth.

  4. Be flexible. Even with the best-laid plans, things don't always go as expected. That's why it's important to have a plan B (and even a plan C) in place. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and sometimes you need to adapt your goals to fit the circumstances. Be willing to realign your goals if needed, and don't beat yourself up if things don't go according to plan. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination.

  5. Learn from those who know the journey. Similar to picking the minds of more experienced runners for course insights, try to connect with others who have achieved the goals you’re about to set out to conquer. Whether it’s a local legend who has decades of experience under their belt or a coach with the training and expertise to guide you through a training block, having a 3rd party available to provide guidance into what lies ahead is extremely beneficial, especially when things get tough. Consider having a conversation with a coach early on in your training process. They can often provide some unbiased thoughts on the feasibility of your goal and might even have a plan to help you get there. Drop us a line at Altitude Endurance if you’re interested in setting up an exploratory conversation. Perhaps a coach-assisted training plan or some private coaching can make the difference between a good race and a great race! 

  6. Thank those who help you along the way. Developing positive relationships with the individuals and groups that assist you on your journey will not only build you a support network to cheer you on, but it will likely inspire others to set goals for themselves. Just like thanking aid station volunteers during a race, acknowledgement of those people who made your journey more enjoyable will cement you as someone whose journey is worth following. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to inspire while achieving your goals. That’s part of what makes this sport so special.

With these tips in mind, you're well on your way to achieving your goals and making this your best year yet. Good luck, and enjoy the journey!