We’ve all heard of setting SMART goals right? It sounds all very sombre and nerve-wrecking, but if you’re going to keep going, you’d at least need a specific goal.

Often times, we either set the bar too low or not set any goals at all because we’re afraid of failing. What we overlook is that there’s no shame in failing. Instead, if you’re the guy who knows a million ways things might have gone wrong AND how it could work, that’s a lot of wisdom you can share with others.

So to finish strong and finish proud at your upcoming race, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Here are 7 ways you can challenge yourself.

What you do now: Run occasionally

What you can aim to do: Set at least 3 days a week of running – one for speedwork, one for hill sprints and another for long, easy runs. Don’t wait till the stars align and you finally feel like running. You can be flexible with which days to run, but in a week, do at least 3. If that day just isn’t a good day, tell yourself, “I’d go for just 10 minutes.” Chances are, you’d end up covering more.

What you do now: Run easy

What you can aim to do: Add fartlek. Telling yourself that you’re going to do 6min/km pace instead of your usual 7min/km might be a) too huge a jump at once and b) really, really scary. Instead, fartlek is a fun way to add speed. Intersperse your usual route with short bouts of higher intensity runs, such as running harder from this tree to the next. It doesn’t have to be planned and it doesn’t have to stretch for long.

What you do now: Run with music

What you can aim to do: Run with friends instead. This way, you can try to keep a conversation going and it helps regulate your breathing too. Music can easily detach you from the run itself. It helps you manage your pace. If you’re too breathless, it might be too fast for you. If you can breeze through, it might do you good to pick up the pace a little next run. Keeping yourself at this pace (not too breathless but only able to keep up a choppy conversation) is what we call a tempo run.


These might be really challenging for some of us, while others can ramp it up a notch and challenge yourself further. The idea here is to be unafraid to set specific goals for yourself and work to reach for them. After all, we’re all running to improve ourselves in one way or another.