10 Running Goals Unrelated to a PR

Last weekend I ran my first trail marathon, and it was the most fun I’ve had running in a long time. Since trail running is a new and exciting territory for me, my goal was to simply finish this race feeling strong and confident (and as muddy as possible). 


I am happy to report that I met this goal more or less, but beyond this- I think I found one of my new passions. Combining my love for hiking and running into one event was more thrilling than I had anticipated. I think you should try a trail race too if you haven’t already! Stay tuned for another post with a full recap.

FullSizeRender (13).jpgA view of Lake Huron from the race course; photo credit: North Face Endurance Challenge

Typically my road races are time-focused, so not having a goal finish time for the race this weekend felt rather freeing. Setting running goals that are attainable and measurable can help push you to your potential and keep you motivated. While having running aspirations is important, these goals don’t necessarily have to involve a time record or setting a new personal record. In fact, while I think it’s important to run for a purpose, I also believe that mixing up your goals will expand your running experience overall and help you to avoid being stuck in a frustrating time-goal rut.

Here are 10 running goals that have nothing to do with a PR:

1. During a race, drinking water from cups without stopping (hint: pinching the top of the cup makes it easier to pour!)

2. Providing support and motivation to a friend while pacing them in their race.

3.  Running a negative split during a race or training run.

4. Exploring new local running routes each week.


5. Enjoying every moment during a race by high-fiving as many people as possible, reading all of the spectator signs, and listening to the cheers (or your own thoughts, if the race is remote) instead of listening to music. 

6. Getting as many friends as possible to sign up for a local race.

7. Nailing down the perfect hydration and fueling regimen in a race or training run by trying various products throughout the run. The end result is feeling strong and sans any GI-issues or cramps.

8. Running a certain distance for the first time in a training run or race.

9. Finishing a race feeling strong and confident instead of drained or injured.

10. Joining a running club, including the half marathon “fanatic” or marathon “maniac” groups. Note that the minimal criterion for half fanatics is running two half marathons within 16 days or three within 90 days (more info here). Minimal criterion for marathon maniacs is two marathons within 16 days or three marathons within 90 days (for more info, check out their website here). There are also 50 states half and full marathon clubs, a 7 continents club, and many more clubs- all interesting, exciting challenges!  Of course, if you’re going to attempt something like this, make sure to consult a running coach to help make sure you do so safely and stay healthy!


What are some of your running goals or aspirations that you’d like to attempt? Any readers members of the half-fanatics or marathon manics clubs?

Have you run a trail race and have had a really good experience? A really bad experience?

PS-Congrats to Carrie for winning the SPIbelt! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the new belt! :)

Note: this post was originally written by me for Run Farther and Faster blog. Check out the  site for more posts & RFF coaching information!


  1. I love how happy you look in the picture from your race! I’d love to do more trail running/racing. During the Spartan Beast we ran over 14 miles of technical trails (and time of course was thrown out the window) and you nailed how i felt–completely free. It was probably one of my top 5 favorite races, just because of the trail running.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on your first trail race! I run trails all the time, but I’ve only run one trail race. My experience at the race was amazing, and just completely increased my love of being on the trails! The whole vibe and attitude of everyone running was one of the most amazing parts of my 50k race.

    I love the goal suggestions you mentioned. I’ve been really focused on PRs, but at some point, I see that I can’t always have a PR, and it’s awesome to be reminded of other things to strive for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m jealous how often you can hit up the trails. Glad you feel the same way about your race! Sounds like you should sign up for another one :) I highly recommend the North Face Endurance challenge series. Other than that, have you heard good reviews on any other New England trail races?


      1. I do feel super lucky that I’ve got plenty of trails to run close to home! I’m planning on running another 50k in October at Bradbury Mountain near Freeport. I’m going to check out a few smaller trail races before that- There is a 10k at Sugarloaf (not up the mountain!) and a 9 mile peak to peak challenge at Sunday River (this one is up the mountain!). I will definitely check the North Face Endurance challenge series!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my non-time related goals is to run more trails in training and eventually run a trail race. I’m definitely much more of a road runner, but I think it is important to get out of my comfort zone every now and then. Also I know that even though I’ll be running slower on trails, the hills are going to make me a stronger and faster runner overall. I can’t say no to that.


  4. I’m just the opposite. The few times I have tried trail racing and running I have HATED it. I love the outdoors. Love the woods & mountains, but I’d rather be out hiking/hunting/fishing in them. Running is my time to relax and unwind. Trail running always requires too much mental diligence to not run into something or twist an ankle on something. It probably doesn’t help that a couple of the longer trail runs I have done involved hot, jungle-like conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh I LOVE trail races! I’ve only done two (25k and a 50k) but both were magical. That photo is stunning. I was able to get a bunch of girls to register for a local race by offering an 8 week 5k “Bootcamp” that led up to the race. It was so much fun!! I enjoyed this post!! Great goals. It’s nice to take the focus off PRs sometimes.

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  6. I love running on trails – and it is my aim to do some trail races soon. The pic of you in the forest looks like my perfect route!

    Lots of our club runs are partly off road and they are always the parts I enjoy most – tonight will be along green lanes (do you have them in America?)

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  7. It looks like you had a lot of fun in the race and you finished happy, which is ultimately the best way to finish, along with healthy/uninjured. That’s *always* a victory.

    When I was coming back from an injury 2 years ago, I had a 5K race I was already signed up for before injury and decided to just run it since I’d already paid. I set a goal to get a good race picture during the run!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CONGRATS! That’s soo awesome!!! You better get one of those t-shirts now! You and your husband are so inspiring- wished I could have gone out to Missoula but plan to run next year. Sounded like such a great time!


  8. I love your goals!! I have run a few trail half marathons and love the challenge of different terrain and sometimes trailfinding (as we have some meanie over here that likes to move race markers!)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No just someone being mean!! The organiser has literally checked the course at 5am and signs have been stolen by the 8am start! Makes it interesting and you get to chat to new people when you’re trying to find your way though which is nice.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I do enjoy the trail running community because there are few expectations. Times are irrelevant and you really are racing to conditions. A goal I always have is to finish a race in whatever conditions present themselves. Another one might be to not walk for the whole time. No matter how slow I may be shuffling, I try not to walk. (This is sometimes impossible with trails, but usually doable on the road)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congrats on running your first trail marathon! Great photo. This was a fun post to read — I really like your non-PR goal list. The drinking out of cups while moving one is so true — I def pinch the cups to help with that also! Finishing a race feeling strong and confident and happy is SUCH an amazing feeling. Love that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love everything about this. I think I need to spend some time today coming up with my own list of 10 running goals not tied to a PR.

    Separately, anyone else think it’s crazy that the requirements for the half maniacs and the marathon maniacs are the same?! Two half marathons in 16 days is one thing. Two full marathons in 16 days is totally different!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Got to love a trail marathon, done a few now. It’s nice, as you never know quite what you are going to get so planning for a specific time is always going to be tricky. Last year I ran the same race in the four seasons and I think there was more than an hours difference between the fastest time and the slowest, all due to the conditions.
    Another challenge a bit like your pacing a friend thing is to start as a big group of friends and finish as the same group. Nine of us did this a few weeks back at a 15 mile trail race. The time was rubbish but a 15 mile party was an absolute joy and definitely something worth doing, just because you can!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so great! I’ve never been able to finish a race with anyone unless they were a pacer! It’s hard to stick together for the entire duration. But that sounds like a lot of fun! What’s your favorite trail race you’ve done?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure that is a bit tricky. I did the South Downs Marathon and there was one point when I realised that I was running completely alone through a woodland trail. I knew I was on the right path but there was no one else within sight for about 10 minutes and it was beautiful. I was not running for a specific time, just for the experience and loved it. I remember thinking ‘this is why I run’.


  13. It is so cool that you ran this Jane. Welcome to Canada, and welcome to “my neck of the woods”.

    This is the 1st time I have heard of Marathon Maniacs. I might be an upcoming “unofficial member”, another 50k on August 6th and one in the end of Sept.. I am addicted to trail running! :)

    Congratulations on your 1st trail marathon. And so wonderful that it was a great experience for you! Looking forward to your full recap post! :)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Carl! Still thinking about the experience and can’t wait until my next trail run! Had such a great time in Ontario :) What’s your favorite trail race? Would love some suggestions from the experts as I’m new to this kind of running!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, it’s great to reflect on those runs.. Definitely not an expert Jane, we’re both pretty much in the same boat…ha. Only been running for 3 years now and only did my 1st trail race almost a year ago. The North face was my 4th trail race. My favourite so far was my 1st one called Creemore Vertical Challenge. https://theoldfellowgoesrunning.com/2015/08/13/the-race-that-broke-me/ It is on the same ridge of hills as we were on the Blue Mountains, but just 15 miles south (in the direction of Toronto). Last year I did the 25k and coming up shortly on Aug. 6th I will be running the 50k (same course but 2 loops). Much less people and everyone is SO friendly. (my gravator picture of me in the river is at Creemore Vertical Challenge)
        I haven’t done any destination races like yourself coming up to Canada. The furthest for me thus far is about a 3 hour drive. It would be so cool to do something like that some day! :)

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations on your first trail race! It’s a whole different animal off road isn’t it? I feel it requires and encourages an entirely different approach. Sure I still want to be fast but mostly I’m thrilled and grateful to be able to experience the natural beauty around me.

    That being said I’ve always trained by just getting out there and logging the miles. This year I am much more focused on monitoring my HR, switching up run types and basically following a regimen. So I can toss all that training away on race day and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

    Congrats again! You look so happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Congrats on your first race! Definitely an accomplishment. I love just forgetting about time and distance and just looking around at the beauty around you, stopping to “refuel” at blackberry bushes, or getting down to get a picture of a turtle on the trail.

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  16. Well done! I love the running goal ideas; I will be defiantly be adding some to my own goals. Your blog looks amazing- I can’t believe I’ve only just come across it!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on MILES WITH MEGHANN and commented:
    Love this! All goals are great. Personally, I get super pumped when I hit a new distance. Running a trail race does sound like lots of fun too :)

    “Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Trail running is the absolute best! The mix of climbing and descending with technically difficulty engages the mind and body on a different level of focus. As an individual that only trail runs, I don’t see how people do road races! But then again, I’m certainly lucky enough to live in Boulder, CO. It’s a trail running mecca! In any extent, it’s so nice to see when others discover this joyous alternative to road running. Not to mention, trail running is much easier on the body!


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