set (and achieve) big run goals

running - goal settingCertified Personal Trainer Specialist and Robson Street run ambassador, Julie Bertrand, has more than a few races under her belt - to say the least. We asked her how she sets powerful run goals beyond “I run a half-marathon” and how she stays on track to achieve them.

my 2012 run goals

  • I run both the Boston and NYC marathons in 2012
  • I run a marathon under 3:35, re-qualifying for Boston 2013

setting your run goals

If you set goals you are more likely to achieve the things you want. Choose the race you want to run (huh, what’s a SeaWheeze?) and the date you’ll be crushing the goal (like, August 11 2012 for example). Already run a half-marathon? Kudos. To challenge yourself incorporate time goals, races you want to qualify for or increase the number of races you want to run each year.

tips to run your best in 2012

set a plan
Each week, plan your workouts in advance. Create a training plan to help you stay on track with your goals and ensure that you progress at the right pace. A typical marathon training program will last 16-20 weeks, whereas a half-marathon training plan can last anywhere from 12-16 weeks. Your long runs should increase by 10-15% each week in order to avoid running too much too soon. Many runners start off too quickly and end up injured because they get excited about the final goal and skip this critically important step.

join a run club
Running in a group helps hold you accountable for your training, keeps you motivated and is also a great way to meet other runners in your community. If you’re from Vancouver, run with me at the Robson Street Store run club, otherwise ask a store in your community for their local run club information.

Incorporate at least one cross-training day per week where you do not allow yourself to run. Try strength training, yoga, Pilates or spinning. This will encourage your body to use other muscles that are not being recruited while running and, in turn, make you a stronger, more well-rounded runner. Cross-training is also one of the best ways to help prevent injuries.

change it up
In addition to your easy runs and progressively longer distance runs, incorporate hill training, speed work and Fartlek into your training

  • hill training
    Hill training will build power, strength and endurance that will help sustain longer bouts of running. Try this: find a hill that is about 350m (about 1/4 mile) long with a progressive incline. Start by doing a 10-15 minute warm up, then repeating this hill three times before cooling down. Progress gradually to six or seven repeats by the end of your training.
  • speed workouts/interval training
    This style of training helps develop a faster stride turnover, which will improve your overall running speed. Speed workouts help train your anaerobic threshold (that time where you start being out of breath) so that you are able to sustain harder (faster) running for longer periods of time. These should be short in distance (max one mile) and performed at high intensity.
  •  fartlek
    Ever heard of Fartlek? Swedish for “speed play”, Fartlek is another way to change up your training plan. A bit more on the comfortable side of effort than speed workouts, Fartlek workouts typically last about 45 minutes in length and incorporate a mix of faster-than-usual running for a set time (can be one minute or five minutes) with a rest period. Repeat intervals of this workout to help improve your running speed and endurance!

Any run goals you’re working toward this year? –  Oh, did we mention we’re hosting the first annual SeaWheeze Half Marathon? Cheers to a new year, new goals and new races.

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Julie you are a true inspiration :)

Comment by Aisling Lanigan — January 10, 2012 @ 10:15 am

Hey Julie, thanks for that! I just started running 4 (!!) days ago. I hope I’ll achieve my 2012 goal and those tips are certainly helping! 213 days to go :)

Comment by Marie — January 10, 2012 @ 11:39 am

Im running Boston in April and Chicago in October! I’m running both marathons on charity teams and Boston will be my first full marathon!!

Comment by Amy — January 10, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

That’s awesome Marie! If you are in Vancouver, come join me at the lululemon Robson store for Run Club every Wednesday night – we typically run anywhere from 6 to 10k, sometimes even hills or tempo workouts – 6:00pm start. Enjoy your training!

Comment by Julie Bertrand — January 10, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

Great advice on goal setting.

You may also want to check out and download a free ebook on goal setting called “Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” at

Comment by Harry — January 10, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

Way to go Julie! Someone from our team will be seeing you tomorrow night! Do you have a run club out of the Kitsilano location? Share your goal here for a chance to win some cool prizes: Good luck on your goals!

Comment by Steaz — January 10, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

Hey Julie-just read your post-you go girl! Hope you are loving the west coast and have some new kitty friends to keep you company!


Comment by Tracey Young — January 11, 2012 @ 3:11 am

I’m from Japan and running Boston and New york also! and My target time is the same sub 3’30 as you .

Keep going for our target!

Comment by karen — January 11, 2012 @ 4:29 am

thank you so much for these tips! I’m getting ready to train for my second half-marathon and these words of advice will definitely help me be a more well-rounded trainee (so hopefully I can beat last year’s time) :)

Comment by nichole — January 12, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

I love how specific your goals are. I am currently doing the “couch 2 5k” plan with a 5k, 10k & a 1/2 marathon set for the year.

Comment by Yevette — January 14, 2012 @ 8:10 am

This is very inspirational and I think you offer very good advice on how to set goals and most importantly how to keep up with them. I especially love your “Change it up” tips. I think it’s important to keep your run regimen interesting so that you don’t get bored of the same schedule.

Have you ever tried running for a charitable cause? I find that adds to motivation when you’re training and running the marathon for something meaningful as well. The LA Marathon here in Los Angeles has a variety of charities people can run for.

Comment by Adriana — January 14, 2012 @ 10:17 am

Does anyone have a run club that they would recommend in Toronto? I’m relatively new to running, so some of the runs that are a 10k min would be too much for me.

Comment by ChristineS — January 15, 2012 @ 9:59 am

Hey ChristineS,
A lot of our stores offer complimentary run clubs each week. All levels are welcome and they will break up into level groups depending on how many people they have coming out.

Right now, our Eaton Centre store has run clubs on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. Cumberland St has interval training on Monday nights as well. For more details, check out their mini-sites under ‘store finder’ or head in to your local store and check out their community board.


Comment by GEC Online — January 17, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

Thanks for this post! I’m just getting back into running after a setback last year forced me to take time off and subsequently I lost the motivation.
Well this year I have a goal to run a 5k by my birthday (April 1), 10k by June 1 and hey – if I’m doing alright and my physiotherapist says ok…the SeaWheeze on August 11!
I love your motivation! Keep it up! It’s inspiring! :)

Comment by Kim — January 17, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

Thanks for the motivating story!

Comment by Go Girl Bands — January 20, 2012 @ 11:38 am

I conquered my first 1/2 marathon this past year (Nike Women’s Marathon in SF). Im hooked on them now :) and working up to finishing a full marathon!

Comment by Kaseymichelle Qualman — January 21, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

A Really Good Post!

Interval training for me is one of the best ways to prepare for upcoming Marathons!

Comment by Sprinting Spikes — March 21, 2012 @ 5:31 am

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