So, you're brand new to running or maybe you've been running for a long time and want to take your running to the next level. What's next? Take a look at these 3 crucial steps to success.

1. Decide on Your Goals

The first step is to decide on a clear and concise goal. Be honest with where you are in your fitness so that you choose a realistic and obtainable goal. You can always divide goals by short term goals and long term goals if your ultimate goal is not compatible with your current fitness level or if it feels too overwhelming. Checking off smaller goals along the way to your big goal will go a long way in helping you stick to the plan.

2. Choose a Program

Once you have determined your goal, you are ready to choose a training program that will work for you. There are countless training programs online to choose from and most are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced categories. These divisions typically correlate to how many miles you are already running each week and whether or not you are already engaged in speed work. The first week of the training program should look like your current running schedule and will progress slowly over the weeks. Choosing the appropriate level will decrease your chances of getting injured and will help you achieve your goal in a systematic, gradual buildup of miles.

3. Stick With It

This one is obvious! Some of us have a more difficult time than others with this. If you find that you start off strong only to wane as the days and weeks pass, then make yourself accountable. Join a local run group or make standing weekly plans to run with a friend. Let others know of your goals. Not only will this make you more likely to lace up on days you aren't really feeling it, it may encourage others who are struggling. Sometimes, it takes a village to achieve a goal, so take advantage of a support system. I promise, the feeling you will have from working hard and ultimately achieving your goal is one of the single most amazing feelings in the world!