The Power of S.M.A.R.T. Goals

I have recently gone from a very non-runner to brand new runner. Think you can’t do it too? Think again!

I definitely would not classify myself as a “runner.” In fact, I even quit the indoor track team. (Who knew that indoor track in Upstate New York is really running outside except for meets?) Needless to say, this is not something I have been working at my whole life.

It started with the 5K Color Me Rad with my co-workers. Then it turned into an 8K on Thanksgiving (gotta start in the negative, right?!). And somehow, it ended up with a 13.1-mile run in the pouring rain up and down the historic streets of Nashville. It still blows my mind to say I actually completed the Country Music Half Marathon. And now, I am addicted — I can’t wait to train and run for another half marathon and beat my “goal time.”

So how did I end up going from high school track dropout to a half marathon runner? Well, I set a goal. As a registered dietitian working with patients to reach their health goals each day, I always encourage each and every patient to leave our session with at least one S.M.A.R.T. goal. Why? Because it gives you something to work towards and a guiding plan on how to get there.

Registered dietitians encourage S.M.A.R.T. goals because they are "Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely." It’s what takes you from “I want to lose five pounds in two weeks” to “I will lose five pounds in two weeks by reducing my soda intake and increasing my walking to 30 minutes, five days per week.”

In this case, my S.M.A.R.T. goal went from “I’m going to complete a half marathon” to what really brought me there: “I will train for a half marathon in four months by following a set training schedule of running three to five days per week, and building my long runs by one mile every two weeks.”

I first thought about my barriers and found that between graduate school, work and a social life, a 12- to 17-week plan was the best fit for me (shorter plans are more intensive). I then download a simple calendar template and took some time to write in all of my commitments I already had from January to April (vacations, conferences, etc.), along with a training schedule of workouts on each date in the calendar.

RD tip: If you cannot exercise on a certain day, be sure to re-schedule your exercise with yourself just like you would a doctor appointment to achieve your overall goal.

Some other tools that helped me achieve my goal:

  • MyFitnessPal iPhone App to track and log my runs
  • FIT Radio iPhone App – not just a station, but a DJ playing songs at a consistent beat!
  • Belkin Armband for iPhone (this one has a place for your house/car key too!)
  • A wonderful support group of friends and family

The Country Music Half Marathon was the first large race since the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks, and I couldn’t have been more proud and enthused to run. Please join #RunNow and show support for those who cannot!

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Brittany Chin Jones
Brittany L. Chin Jones, MS, RD, LD, is the owner of Blush Nutrition, LLC and the Continuing Education Chair for the South Carolina Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (SCAND). Over the years she has served as the Piedmont Dietetic Association president, SCAND PR-Media Chair, and the Communications Chair for the Thirty and Under in Nutrition Dietetics member interest group. Follow her at and on Twitter and Instagram.