Hey everyone! Welcome to Runs on Espresso! I’m your host, Jenna, an ok runner and coffee drinker extraordinaire! I realized while listening to my last two podcasts (for quality and to help myself get better because trust me, it sucks listening to yourself) that no one really cares about my daily training except me. I want to rework the podcast a bit and make it more useful for more people. Plus, it’s helpful to have podcasts that are almost timeless. So if you listen to this in a year, it’s still applicable. My training schedule in a year won’t matter. Not even to me.

I find most podcasts take 5-10 episodes to really get their groove so I hope you will give me the chance to find mine. I was thinking and trying to figure out which way to go with this and of course, it hit me while in the shower. Don’t all good ideas seem to come in the shower?

I currently don’t have a coach so I have to do it myself. I’m ok with that, as I’ve done it most of my running career. But I want to be a better runner. Right now a running coach isn’t in my budget so I’m all I got. Well, and books, magazines, and other resources online.

Someday I would love to take a certification and become an actual running coach but for now, I will have to work with what I have. Hopefully, we can all learn and become better runners together! So my plan is to make the podcast a kind of training manual. Each episode will focus on a topic and I’ll share my research, thoughts, opinions and how it can be applied to my training. 

In episode one I focused on my difficulties deciding on what to do and what training plan to do. Then in episode two I explained what I decided to do. I feel so much better and my mind has settled so much since I finally made a decision and just planned everything out for the next few months. I’m definitely one of those people that needs a plan. My anxiety gets going in high gear if I don’t have a plan and everything feels like it’s spinning out of control. It almost feels like I’m on a tilt a whirl that won’t ever stop. Once I finally decide on something and move forward the ride stops and I get off, feeling a little shaky but overall satisfied.

I know not everyone operates this way. If you are one of those types that doesn’t feel the need to plan, please reach out to me and let me know how you train. I’d love to hear from a different perspective!

Let’s take a minute for a word from my sponsor.

And I’m back. 

With everything I’ve already said, I think the first thing is to talk about goals. Because it’s hard to create a plan without goals. And I think I really needed to dig down into what it is I actually want before I could make a map of how to get there. So today’s podcast is going to be all about goals. 

In episode one I mentioned my six general goals. A quick reminder or if you haven’t listened to episode one they are:

  1. Increase speed
  2. Increase long run distance
  3. Run more trails
  4. Increase strength
  5. Decrease weight and body fat
  6. More cross-training

I’m sure many of you have similar general goals. I wanted to get more specific. Like why do I want to get faster and run longer? What is the ultimate end I want to reach? I thought about it and kept coming back to I want to do an ultra. Nothing crazy, just a 50k. Although some people may say that itself is crazy. 

For me, figuring out exactly what I want to do will help me shape my training. It will also help me focus in on those six goals and really figure out how everything will work together to get me through a 50k. What is it you want to accomplish in your running? Maybe you want to get a faster 5k, maybe break a certain time. Figuring out exactly what it is you want is the key to everything else falling into place. 

Many experts suggest doing SMART goals, so let’s break down my 50k goal into a SMART goal. Feel free to grab a pen and notepad and do the same for yours. I’ll wait while you pause and go get them. I have researched and read a lot about SMART goals over the years so I didn’t use a specific reference. If you are unfamiliar with the idea, google it. There are tons of resources out there. Some free, some want you to buy shit. I’ll try to provide enough info that you can follow along and set your own without extra research.

Ok, so in SMART goal the S stands for specific. So, what exactly do we want to do? Run a 50k isn’t quite specific enough. For me, I want to run a 50k on November 28th in 6 hours. So, using the faster 5k from earlier you could say you want to run a 5k in under 30 minutes in three months. 

M is measurable. How will we track our progress? For my 50k goal, I’ll track my progress by my long runs. How far did I go? How did I feel after? Did I increase steadily? And so on. I also have a mid-plan 35k to test. For the faster 5k, you would probably focus on your speed work days. Did it feel easier this week? Were you able to do the tempo run at the designated pace? 

A is attainable. For me, I believe 50k is attainable. I’ve never done a marathon but I have done training runs of 18-20 miles in the past. I need to stay healthy and find ways to keep my energy level up. And not break my leg again. For a faster 5k if you currently run a 32 minute 5k breaking 30 is doable but breaking 20 would probably be much harder. 

R is always the weirdest one for me. Is it relevant? Well, in all reality is running 50k or getting a faster 5k really relevant? Probably not. I’m not a professional runner. I run to improve and challenge myself. So really no matter what goal I set it’s relevant. I can see how being relevant works for say business goals or professional development but in our personal lives, it seems every goal we set would be relevant. This is always the letter I struggle with on personal goals because I’m all like of course it’s relevant. What do you think? Let me know because maybe I just haven’t found the right explanation for this one yet.

Lastly, we have T for time. We kind of covered this in defining our specific goal. So I said I want to run a 50k on November 28th. I will also have a check-in date half way through where I do a 35k. This will help me keep on track and make sure I’m hitting those long run distances each week. If you leave your goal of hitting a faster 5k open ended when will you actually attempt it? Never. So sit down and have a goal date (say three months from now) and maybe a mid plan check where you try to run a 5k and see where you are at. Try to keep your timeline specific. If you say I want to run a 50k or 5k this year, it’s too broad. We may never do the things we want to do “this year”. I like to think in quarters. Three months is usually a good time frame. Most training plans are 12-18 weeks which is 3 or 4 months. It’s far enough out that you can accomplish it but not so far that you slack off because you think you have more time to complete it.

So how does this all relate to those six goals I mentioned previously? Now that I know what I want my goal to be I can focus on these general goals to help support my larger training goal. I won’t go through the SMART process for all of these. That would be really boring even for me. Each of my general goals will help me get to my big, SMART goal of running a 50k in 6 hours. Strength training and core work will help me build muscle, lose fat and body fat making me lighter and running easier on my body. Building my long runs, cross-training, and running more trails will help me prepare physically and mentally for endurance on the trails. And of course doing speed work will help me finish in my desired time. I’ve written down more specific SMART goals for each of these mini goals. 

Did you write this all down as you went? I highly suggest if you didn’t go back and do that now. Or if you are driving or running while listening, do this as soon as you have a moment. Having a goal written down can actually help you reach it. Writing it down makes it real and serves as a reminder of what you’re doing and why. And if you really want to feel some pressure to meet your goal, tell someone. Or post it on social media. Maybe find a friend that will ask about your goal. This is especially helpful for people that want to be held accountable. I know some people like to have outside accountability. If that’s not you and you know it, not you are just too scared to share your goal, then don’t tell a friend you know will bug you about how you’re doing. 

Side note: If you want to know more about accountability types check out Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. I’ll post a link in the show notes. Basically, there are four types of people when it comes to accountability. I took the quiz and came out as a questioner which makes total sense to me because I want to know WHY I’m doing something. Why will it help me do X? How will it help me reach my goals? I know personality tests are controversial but I like taking them and seeing what it says. A lot of them do apply to me but I take them all with a grain of salt. I still think they are fun and can help you understand yourself better. Check it out or not. I’m just sharing what has worked for me. You may find something else works better for you.  

I mentioned a couple of times doing a check halfway through. I’m serious. Don’t skip check-ins. They will help you stick to it and you can adjust your plan or goal if needed. If you don’t think you’ll remember this part, pause the podcast and put in a google calendar reminder to check in once a month or so. Then actually do it. Sit down, pull out your paper with your written SMART goal, and evaluate yourself and your goal. When you do this, celebrate your victories. Have you hit all those goal paces in your speed work! Great job! DId you do all your long runs? Did you add something new to training or clean up your diet? Celebrate those little milestones. 

Something I try to do at the end of each day is to write down something positive from my daily workout. I got this idea from Kara Goucher’s book Strong. If you haven’t read this book yet, I would suggest it. It’s a pretty short book but it really helped me. I may actually re-read it and talk about it in a future episode. But the point is, even if your workout sucked there is at least one thing that is good about it. Maybe it’s just that you got out the door and did it even though the kids were whining all day, your boss was on your ass, whatever stressors you had that day made you want to sit on the couch with a vodka drink and reese’s but instead you changed in to tight spandex and went for a run. 

Whew! I think that about covers goal setting! I hope you found it useful and are thinking about what you want to do for the rest of the year. I’d love to hear the goals you’ve come up with. Send me an email jenna@runsonespresso.com or find me on Twitter and tell me your goals. twitter.com/runsonespresso. If you need an accountability buddy I’m happy to help you out!

And now, grab your favorite coffee beverage for Coffee Corner. Last weekend we took our dog on her first camping trip. We only did one night to see how she did and if it seemed like she enjoyed it. She is not a big fan of longer car rides because she can’t sit in our laps. She spent the whole drive up wanting to get in front with us. We started out early and had plenty of time before we could set up our campsite so we took Doggo to a couple of creeks and a lake. She absolutely loved being able to get in the water. At the third creek I took off my shoes and socks and waded in. The water was so cold, it felt nice. 

Once at the campsite we put the dog on a tie out. She’s never had one that we know of and she liked having a bit more freedom than the usual leash. She did not like us setting up the tent far away from her though. The site was huge and we set her up by the picnic table figuring that’s where we would be while relaxing after dinner. 

When we took her to the tent and she was a little hesitant going in but once inside she hopped on the air mattress and worked on finding the most comfortable spot. She slept all night, unlike us humans. We didn’t sleep well because the air mattress slowly deflated and we ended up on the hard ground. We didn’t see any issues with it and looked again at home and filled it back up. There were no rips, holes, tears and stayed inflated. We think we must not have had the valve in all the way. Other than that, the doggo did great and seemed to enjoy herself. She fought sleep the entire car ride home but she did doze off a few times. We will definitely take her on a longer trip next time. She loves hiking and going in water. So far she only wades in and lays down. We have her on a leash so she can’t go far. We don’t know if she can swim. We have a life jacket for her and plan to take her somewhere she can try swimming and being in the kayak. She is an adventure doggo and up for anything! Or she wants to be with us everywhere we go and puts up with adventure but I think she really loves it. She goes NUTS when her pack comes out!

Ok, that’s all I have for today. I hope you liked setting your SMART goals! Until next time may your runs be as strong as your coffee!

Categories: Podcast


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.