My Short and Long Term Running Goals

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few months now. Each time I want to commit it to “paper” I’m afraid I’m going to jinx myself by actually writing it down. My primary focus when it comes to exercise is extending my healthspan. Everything else is secondary to that. I can’t deny, though, that I get a charge out of distance running. I love the personal competition aspect. I love seeing how my body can adapt to the challenges. I like having a sense of accomplishment when I succeed. I like spending time doing the planning, tracking, and analysis. If at some point it interferes with my longevity/healthspan goals I’ll stop. In the mean time though I am enjoying being able to rejoin the recreational distance running world in a way I thought may have been solely a brief moment of my past. While I try to approach it with daily/weekly goals for personal satisfaction I can’t help but think about larger goals to target as well. In this post I want to lay out short and long term goals. If I achieve none of them but still stay constistent with my fitness regime then I would still be satisfied. Hitting them is just icing on top of that.

Short Term Goals (1-2 years)

In my peak running performance period, 2012-2013, I successfully completed a few 10K races, one half marathon, and one full marathon. The 10Ks and half marathon I finished very strong. The marathon, on the other hand, was a disaster. As part of reviving my running hobby I want to meet or exceed where I was back in the day. That means that I want to complete a half marathon strong, like I did back in 2012, to match where I was. To exceed my previous highs I want to also complete another marathon but to do so strongly this time.

What do I mean by “strongly complete” or “match where I was”? Does that mean running these races at or faster than my pace back in the day? That would be awesome but that’s not what I mean. The fact is I think I pushed myself too hard back in the day. That’s why I crashed so spectacularly in the full marathon. It’s now a decade later. It may not be possible for me to get an increase in my cardiovascular capabilities to match the pace but at a more reasonable level of effort. To “strongly complete” then is not a measure of speed but of level of effort. A “strong” finish is one where either I don’t feel totally beat up at the end of the race or if I do it was because I achieved a solid pacing with mostly negative splits (the pace of later miles being faster than earlier miles) such that I finished the race trucking.

The latter is how I ran my first half marathon. I was conservative, even to the point of walking a one mile up hill part. I never ran 13 miles at that point in my life. I didn’t want to die half way through and then have to walk the second half. Instead I paced myself to pretty consistent negative splits with me running ever faster paces in the last few miles. The actual data was:

Mile Pace (mins:sec)
1 10:30
2 10:22
3 10:30
4 11:03
5 9:44
6 10:08
7 10:18
8 10:07
9 9:52
10 9:44
11 9:09
12 9:05
13 9:00
13.1 8:48

That is how I want to finish a half marathon nowadays. When I did another half marathon back in 2020 it was nowhere near that strong. My training wasn’t as dialed in. My fitness level wasn’t as dialed in. It wasn’t the most horrible thing in the world but I wanted to finish much stronger than I did. That’s why my first goal is to do just that in the year 2024. Based on my pace in Zone 2 right now compared to my pace during that Virtual Half marathon (thank you COVID) and my pace compared to my heart rate during a 10K back in 2021 I’d say I’m on the right track to be able to hit that goal.

Assuming I get so far as to once again strongly completing a half marathon in 2024 I want to build towards strongly finishing a full marathon for the first time. I think it will take a lot more base building to get there. While it would be great to get to that goal in 2024 I am giving myself all the way until the end of 2025 to get there. I have all the time in the world so if it takes me even longer then so be it. However what I don’t want to do is try to overly compress the schedule unnecessarily.

Short Term Stretch Goals (1-2 years)

Along with these already pretty amibitious (for me) main goals I have some stretch short term goals for the next two years as well. My first directly related stretch goal is to get into the Half Fanatics Club. This is the half marathon equivalent of the Marathon Maniacs clubs, both of which I first learned about back when I was doing long distance running a decade ago. The Half Fanatics club is a running club for people that complete multiple half marathons in a relatively short period of time. That time frame is either two half marathons in 16 days or three half marathons in 90 days. That’s the entry level of Half Fanatics, so called “Neptune” Level. It goes all the way up to “Sun” Level which is 52 half marathons in 365 days, 30 half marathons in 30 states in 365 days, or 20 half marathons in 20 countries over 365 days. My stretch goal here is just for the first level sometime in the 1-2 year time frame.

Another short term goal is for me to get my Zone 2 pace down substantially. Currently I’m hovering in the 12-13 minute mile pace zone for that. While technically getting into the single digits per mile would be awesome, a realistic number (I think) I’m shooting for achieving in the next 1-2 years is 10 minute mile pace or faster by the end of 2025. Is that even achievable? I have no idea. It’s a nice round number. It’s been my white whale since my last time getting into running. So I’m going to stick with it as a stretch goal for the time being.

Potential Longer Term Goals (>2 years)

Let’s say that I am able to achieve my short term goal and maybe even some stretch goals. That would mean I’ve strongly completed at least one half marathon and one marathon at that point. If I’m looking a bit further out I can see how those could build on to some even bigger goals. The first of those stretch goals would be to join the Marathon Maniacs club. Like the Half Fanatics club the entry level is to run two marathons within 16 days or three within 90. Their levels also go up to 52 marathons in 365 days, 30 marathons in 30 states in 365 days, or 20 marathons in 20 countries over 365 days. Their levels are named after elements rather than planets, but otherwise it’s identical. That is identical except the threshold is far far higher since the races are twice as long. It would still be a boost if I were able to hit at least the bronze, entry level in that.

Another way to look at building on success of the earlier goals is to see how far I can push my sustained distance running. In the distance running world there are whole events called ultra-marathons. Technically an ultra-marathon is any race over 26.2 miles. Practically speaking none of them are 26.3 miles, just a hair over, although there could be one I guess. Most of the shortest of the ultras is 50 km, or 31 miles. They only go up from there to include multi-day races even. Sitting here I can’t imagine ever wanting to push myself to run 50, 100, or 200 miles like I hear of people doing on podcasts. Saying I was able to finish 31 miles though, a feat far rarer than “just” finishing a marathon does have some appeal to me.

Another way to extend the endurance aspect of the distance running is something like these “backyard ultra” style races. These are “races” where one has to run a certain distance every specified number of hours until they are the last one left standing. That is something like having to run four miles every hour. This can go on for days. I would never be able to do something like that, nor would I want to. However there is a variation on that that I do find appealing: David Goggin’s 4x4x48 Challenge .

The 4x4x48 Challenge rules are simple but obviously hard to execute. One has to run four miles every four hours over a 48 hour period. That adds up to 48 miles over two days. When Goggin’s was doing these events every year “officially” it started on 8 pm on race day. However it is really up to the person. I find this to be an incredibly challenging but still doable form of an ultra. The thing that sucks is running every hour, morning, noon, and night, for two days. That means disrupted sleep, running when fatigued, etc. However with only needing to do a one mile an hour pace that means even with my slow poke current pace I would easily have 2-3 hours of time between each run. There is still a lot between here and there. I consider running back to back days to be a rare thing I approach carefully. Doing two runs in one day I’ve never done. Doing eight runs a day for two days is therefore lots of baby steps away if I ever decided to try for this stretch goal.

Potential Ultra-Long Term Goals (>10 years)

Assuming I stick with the running long term, which is in and of itself a big if, I could see some other potential longer goals to whittle away at over the years and decades. That mostly falls into collecting race series in some way or another. I know people who have tried, and succeeded, in running a marathon in every state to join The 50 Marathons Club . There is a comparable club for half marathons too . I have friends who have tried to run all of the major world marathons. That one has official medals if one pulls it off. I’ve heard of people who have tried to run a marathon on every continent. Yep, there is an Antarctica Marathon and there is even an official club for the continents series too. Hell there is even a competition to try to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. No, I don’t intend to try to tackle that last one.

For me these longer term goals are more just ways of adding a bit of focus as time goes on and if I hypothetically hit a steady state training. It could add a little extra spice to it. Each of these would take the better part of a decade to tackle at the very least, if not multiple decades. While my running hobby may fizzle long before that the data nerd in me loves the idea of having some maps with this sort of progress in them.


I’ve been enjoying this revival in fitness so much that setting these sorts of long and short term goals is very rewarding in its own right as I keep walking, or is it running, ahead in training. I read back on posts and journal entries from a decade ago when I had some similar ambitions. I even congratulated myself on finally being in a “permament” health groove. What a joke that turned out to be less than a year later. This time maybe it will stick. Maybe it won’t.

I know there is a good chance in the very very near future I can knock off at least my first strong half marathon. If that one goes well enough I may be able to knock off even my short term stretch goal of joining the Half Fanatics club. These races are only one mile longer than my longest long runs are at this point so it isn’t that much of a stretch. The rest of the goals however become substantially harder and will require a lot more time to build up my fitness levels for me to feel comfortable approaching. I have been working on just such planning though. I’d love to see at least some of them come to fruition.