8 Goal Setting Strategies: Lessons from an Ultramarathon

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

There is no doubt that in life we experience moments of difficulty, periods of adversity, and unexpected challenges. For each of us, the degrees of which vary, depending on our perception of the world and our own personal circumstances. It's what we do in these moments that define us. Our interpretations, reaction, past experiences, and actions then allow us to learn and grow.

Last week I shared our journey of 60 miles (check out the previous blog) and through post-run reflection I found lessons within, that transfer to other areas in life. Whatever the challenge, by accident or by design, that stretches you beyond your comfort zone is a gift. Good, bad, or indifferent, it is an opportunity to learn, grow, develop confidence, and strengthen resilience. But that's not the kicker! The 'home run' is in getting to know yourself on a more intimate level...it's seeing what your made of!

For us, the challenge set was far and beyond our comfort zone. It was the longest run we'd ever done! For you, YOUR personal challenge may be something different. Be it a 5k run, Half-Ironman, starting a new business, studying for a masters or doctoral degree, instilling a new lifestyle habit, presenting in front of a group, or going skydiving!

So for your next epic challenge, follow and apply these 8 strategies:


Whatever lays in front of you, it's important to have or create an 'End-Goal'. Better still, find something that you also connect to emotionally. A feeling you will associate with the accomplishment. This serves as your marker, destination, or reference point. It provides the ammunition and fuel to the journey of accomplishment. Once you have a goal, you have a target, and so begins the planning. For us, that goal was to finish the 60 mile Speyside Way from Spey Bay to Aviemore in one day. Yours will look different. It may be to Graduate from University with honours, begin eating entirely plant-based, fundraise 10k to launch your new business venture, or to take your family to Disney World.


Leave no stone unturned. What is required of you to reach your goal? What steps, actions, or decisions must you make along the way? What potential obstacles or challenges are you likely to encounter? The more you are prepared, the more confident you become in tackling the various situations and challenges that can arise. Many of which you will have already identified and anticipated. When all our training was complete, when we'd prepared as best we could, we went into the run with the following mindset; Trust the training, and expect the unexpected.


With each big goal, the key is to establish 'small victories' along the way. They act as short term achievable targets, carrying you towards the ultimate goal like a rolling stone gathering moss.

Along our route we would snack/drink every 30 minutes. Every 5 miles was a 'victory'. We knew at 10 miles we were 1/6th there, at 15 miles we were a 1/4, at 20 miles...1/3. Every 5 miles gave a little more context and momentum. Find and create those markers that act as stepping stones towards your goal. AND celebrate each one!