Working towards a goal

Katharine Green
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The positive effects of working towards a specific goal are well understood. If we can also measure the progress we've made towards our goal, the chances of success increase further.

Whatever platform you are starting from, the same theory can be applied when it comes to goal setting. For some, taking up a new hobby, increasing one’s fitness or simply starting to exercise might be the first step. Whether it’s after a break from exercising or part of a rehabilitation programme, the technique of Nordic Walking can be used as a simple management tool for clients suffering from a variety of health conditions. For other’s working towards a longer distance or breaking personal bests might be on the horizon.

When goal setting the first thing to ascertain is; what is the goal? Ideally it can be broken down into short, medium and long term goals. In order to achieve a goal certain factors needs to be taken into consideration, following the SMART rules may help you know where to start;


Be specific about what you want to achieve, walk faster/further, exercise more frequently, lose weight, tone up etc.


If it’s achieving a distance per week (how many miles?), or losing weight (how much?), assessment records can monitor progress, reducing body fat/increasing muscle mass(track lean body mass over time) or completing a certain distance in a race.


You need to set your own goals (with the help of your instructor if needs be) and take ownership of your goals, then you will be more likely to achieve them.


The goal needs to be appropriate to your physical capabilities; age, gender, body type, ability and fitness need to be taken into consideration. A training programme needs to be realistic to your lifestyle; can you fit it in and commit to it?


Have a deadline, a date to achieve your goal by. From the start have a timescale for achieving your short, medium and long term goals. Success will be dependent on motivation – how much do you want it?

Start thinking about small daily or weekly targets. Perhaps use your phone or a pedometer to measure how many steps you are doing a day. 10,000 is a common target, but if you are achieving this regularly, start to up it. When you are out Nordic walking, try to always challenge yourself, chose the harder option; take part in the skipping; go the steepest route; try to be at the front. If you are stretching, try without the support of the poles, balancing is fantastic for your core. Noting how you are improving, feeling less breathless; or feeling more toned, will help to spur you on.

Taking the plunge is often the first step. Joining your local Parkrun, which is only 5km is a great short term goal. If you can break the ice and go once, you’ll see what fun it can be and hopefully will be enticed to keep going, and trying to improve on your time each week. This is a great way to measure how your fitness is improving, and they have lots of incentives, with recognition after you’ve completed your first 10, 25, 50 etc Parkruns. Wearing these number T-shirts make you part of the exclusive clubs and part of the Parkrun community, wherever you take part in the country.

Enter a charity event such as the Cancer Research’s ‘Race for life’, which is 5km or 10km (there’s one on Sunday 26th June at Nowton, Bury St Edmunds). Persuade a friend or family member to join you, you will be much more likely to do it. These events always have a fantastic atmosphere and are supported by an encouraging team of volunteers.

A medium or long term goal might be a slightly longer event such as the annual 18 mile Bury to Clare walk in aid of St Nicholas Hospice (Sunday 15th May 2016) is just 3 months away. Mary and I thoroughly enjoyed last year (see Mary's blog). Not only is it a great day out, but every single person who finishes has a huge sense of achievement. For some it feels like a mountain had been climbed, for others it might be another walk to add to their growing list of achievements. Reading Mary’s blog will hopefully inspire you, a fantastic way to see some of our stunning Suffolk countryside. There is still plenty of time to train….

Further afield British Nordic Walking run the challenge series, where some people enjoy the challenge of racing against others, whilst many just enjoy the festival atmosphere. It is a great opportunity to meet other Nordic walkers from all over the UK, share stories and experiences. Everyone is welcome however new or old to Nordic walking, and can complete the 5km, 10km or 20km challenge.

So go on, make that decision, however small, the first step is often the bravest.

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