Running: Measuring Progress & Setting Goals

Since May is National Running/Runner’s Month, you might have heard more about running than normal – unless you happen to work with or spend time with a runner, and in that case we’re sure you hear plenty already. Today we’re looking at how races/distance are a great way to set goals and easily measure your progress, no matter if you’re just starting or if you’ve been running for years.

The Numbers

Running lends itself to competition and tends to draw determined, focused types. The numbers of the sport also make it easy to track your progress and to set goals. Maybe last season you focused on tackling a long race as a new challenge, and this year you’re hoping to get your pace down and really break some personal records. Although plenty of runners shell out money for a specialty watch, you can just as easily keep it simple with a free GPS app for your phone that will track your time, mileage, pace, and more. There are also apps available that allow you to compete with your family, friends, or even strangers (if you’re into that much competition).



Although you can purchase individually-tailored plans (and may want to, depending on your goal), you can find plenty of free training resources online. You can also download an app to help train for everything from a 5k (3.1 miles) to a full marathon (26.2 miles). You can go more low-tech, too. Plenty of great runners keep a running journal to track not just miles, but how they felt, ran, slept, ate, and anything else that may help them train better! If you love getting lost in the details, running may be perfect for you.


Not every runner is a distance runner, and not every distance runner runs races. Races are great for a lot of people because they’re a set event on the calendar and give you a definite goal to train for. Many races have great charities or themes, and some people make running certain races an annual event. If you stick with running long enough, you’ll likely be amazed at how fast the plans to run a 5k turn into the goal to run a 10k, and then even a half-marathon or a full marathon! Plenty of runners find themselves in a starting corral on race-day at a race they thought they’d never run, because the distance once seemed impossible.

Measurable Progress

Even if you don’t have a bit of technology, running makes it easy to see and feel your progress. While it’s never easy, it does get easier. Over time you can run farther and harder with less strenuous effort. Having an app or a watch to measure the exact details helps, but just by noting how far you can go and how much easier it gets week by week shows you that you’re reaching new territory in your running. Running is also easy to tailor to your needs: want to mix it up? Run some hills! Need to do some speed work? Hit some level ground for fast-and-flat training. You can track your progress by feel and by tech for the most accurate measure. Bouncing back from injury or issues? Being able to return to your “normal” distance or effort can also demonstrate the progress you’re making in your recovery.

If you aren’t seeing progress or you’re having problems getting started, Body One Physical Therapy is ready to help. We’re locally-owned and operated with three locations serving Central Indiana: North Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Our team of expert, caring physical therapists treats runners and clients of all ages and activity levels and we’d love to help get you moving. Find out how physical therapy can take your running to the next level: call us today!