If you are raising your game, whatever the reason, you will find it easier to make progress if you are tracking and improving on your performance. Walking is no different, setting walking goals will give you a structure to work towards and provide you with a sense of achievement.
The Benefits Of Walking Goals
Imagine this scenario, you have decided to walk for better physical health so every day you now just head out for a couple of hours with no plan. You may get tired or bored after a few miles so you turn around and head home. Now imagine the same scenario with a target to hit. You start to feel tired or bored so you look at your route to see how much further you have got to walk and you get on with it.
Having a target means you will keep going beyond your comfort zone and this is where your health gains are made. To make walking work for you, you need to ensure you are pushing yourself, and to do that you should be aiming to improve on previous performances. So it is important you track your progress and try to beat it every time.
A slightly more fun benefit of setting goals means you can aim to see more points of interest on your walk. For example, if you live in a city with lots of iconic buildings and monuments, you can aim to visit as many as possible.
SMART Goal Setting
There are several ways you can set goals and the SMART method is one of the most popular. If you have worked in any kind of office you may have seen these goals when you were being told what your objectives for the year are.
A specific goal can be immediate like I want to walk 10000 footsteps on my current walk, or longer-term like you want to lose 10lbs in 3 months. It is not enough to set yourself a target of just walking more or walking to get healthy. What is the specific outcome of your goal?
A measurable goal needs to be quantifiable. For example, you can track your footsteps, time your walk or measure your waistline to understand if you have met your targets.
Achievable speaks for itself, it’s no good setting outlandish goals like losing 100lbs by next week or doing over a million footsteps in a day. You are unlikely to feel motivated by impossible targets.
Your specific measurable goals should be relevant to an underlying intention. For example, if you are walking for better health you don’t want a stop off to challenge yourself to eat 10 donuts without licking your lips. It is much better to keep your targets focussed on your overall health goal.
Time-based targets tie it all together, giving yourself a tangible target becomes much more critical if it is time-sensitive. Imagine setting yourself a target of 10000 steps but allowing yourself as long as you want to complete it. Setting yourself a deadline and doing everything in your power to reach it will undoubtedly increase your chances of success.
What Are My Walking Goals
The good news is that walking is very flexible in terms of goal-setting opportunities, so you can choose depending on what you are trying to achieve.
For moderate-intensity benefits, such as better mental wellbeing or better cardio conditioning, you can increase target distance or number of steps per hour, keep the steps/distance per hour the same but increase the number of hours or combine a bit of both. The immediate impact will be more calories burned each session and we will feel better about ourselves.
For high-intensity benefits such as resistance training and muscular conditioning, you can target more uphill reps or powerwalking intervals in a set time frame. The idea is that short bursts of muscular exertion followed by a complete recovery will allow the body to strengthen allowing for a better calorie burn rate while resting and better performance in the future.
- Increase the total footsteps in a set time
- Increase the total distance in a set time
- Reduce time to complete a set distance/time
- Increase the number of set distance power walks in a set time
- Increase the number of uphill reps in a set time
- Increase set distance for a set number of power walks in a set time
How Do I Decide On My Target Numbers
Every single person is different so what works for you may not work for me. Once you have decided on what you are going to target, you can get an idea of what you are capable of. For example, if I want to improve my step count, I will make a point to get a good day of walking without really pushing myself. The following day I will add 5, 10, or even 20% onto that number.
Or I might walk 5km in an hour at my regular gait, the next day I could push that up to 6 or 7km. The increased speed will require more effort and I will get more out of the workout.
If you start too easy, you may take longer to reach your goals, or if you start too hard you might hurt or demotivate yourself before you get going. However, there is no rule for what your personal numbers should start at, as long as you start and aim for consistency and progress, you will get some results.
Make Walking Goals Work For You
You now know the benefits structured walking goals will offer your fitness routine. I’ve explained how to set SMART goals as well as given you some ideas to choose your goals and set your numbers. All that’s left is for you to get up and give it a go…
Let me know how you get on in the comments below.