My Race to the Finish Line

By University Staff

people jogging

If you write down your goals, you are 80% more likely to achieve them (Reid, n.d.), so I create daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. I have occupational, financial, and fitness goals. One of my most recent fitness goals was to run a 5K. I decided to train and complete my first 5K. I used to run track in school, but never in my life have I ever run 3.1 miles at one time. I had some work to do. I had to set specific, measurable goals. 

“From our earliest days,” says Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, “teachers, coaches, and parents advise us to set goals and to work mightily to achieve them—and with good reason. Goals work.” Goals can help us transform our dreams into reality and give us a step-by-step plan in achieving them.

How Do I Start?

You want to create goals, but you may not know where to begin. Goals can be easy to create if you follow the SMART principles: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Trackable. However, before you do that, you need to know what you want to accomplish. My goal was to run a 5K, so I knew what I wanted to do; now I needed to devise my plan with step-by-step goals. 

My SMART Goals

I followed the SMART principles. 

Specific: I needed to identify precisely what I wanted to achieve. My goal was specific: run a 5K. 

Measurable: I had to determine how I was going to measure my journey to running a 5K. I decided I wanted to run my first 5K in less than 35 minutes. Therefore, I downloaded a running app called RunKeeper that kept track of each of my runs, the total time of each run, and the time for each mile.

Achievable: I knew that I could run 3.1 miles in 36 minutes; therefore, running a 5K in less than 35 minutes could be achievable. It is important not to set yourself up for failure. I knew that I could not run a 5K in less than 30 minutes, at least not yet. According to Anspaugh, Hamrik, and Rosato (2011), it is important to set modest goals in the beginning to promote self-confidence and success. “Nothing breeds success like success” (Anspaugh, Hamrik, & Rosato, 2011, p. 20). 

Realistic: That brings me to creating a realistic goal. I knew that realistically I could run a 5K in less than 35 minutes.

Trackable: I decided to use a fitness app. This method is excellent because it tracks each and every mile that I run, and it informs me when I am behind my average pace or ahead of it. I can be in the middle of my run, and know how I am performing. I can also review how I performed all week and all month. I can compare how I was running last year to this year. 

A review of my SMART goal looked like this:

S = Run a 5K on June 24.
M = Complete 5K in less than 35 minutes. 
A = Yes, my goal is attainable.
R = Yes, my goal is realistic and within my physical capabilities.
T = I will track my goal by using a fitness app called RunKeeper.

The Last Lap

I was nervous the evening before the race started, but I also knew I was prepared. I had been running with my husband for months before the 5K event. Prior to the start of the race, I practiced visualizing myself crossing the finish line and telling myself that I could do it. I knew that I was not a fast runner, but I wasn’t there to beat anyone. I was there for myself just to finish in less than 35 minutes. The weather was hot, but it was a beautiful evening for a race. As the gun went off, I followed 500 people onto the track and out onto the road. I pushed myself along the way and tried to pace several other runners. Throughout the race, I reminded myself how much I enjoyed running and that I had to forge ahead and keep going to meet my goal. The time was now. I had to be strong and keep going. I came in strong that night with a time of 33:50. I had done it! That time was not a record for anyone but myself. I was proud of my accomplishment. I set a goal, and I achieved it.


Written by Dr. Christine McMahon, DHed, CHES, Program Chair for the BA in Health and Wellness in the College of Health, Human Services, and Science


Anspaugh, D., Hamrik, M., & Rosato, F. (2011). Wellness concepts and applications. (8th ed.). New York: NY, McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Krauss, S. (2013). Make your self- talk work for you. Retrieved from fulfillment-any-age/201309/make-your-self-talk-work-you

LeVan, A. (2009). Seeing is believing: The power of visualization. Retrieved from Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization

Pink, D. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Penguin Group

Reid, N. (n.d.). Success coaching. Retrieved from

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