When and How to set Fitness Goals for the Best Results

Summer is upon us here in Boston, and as we approach the midpoint of 2017, that got us thinking about those New Year’s resolutions we set at the beginning of the year. Are we still on track, or have we lost the motivation despite our best intentions? What can we do to get back on track? To find out, we decided to look at historical data for fitness-related goals among Runkeeper users.

Runkeeper allows users to set goals and track their progress over time. As a result, we have a very large dataset of completion rate data that we looked at in order to help our users achieve their goals. To do this, we looked at various factors that could affect goal completion rates and we’d like to offer some tips based on what we learned:

  1. Choose the right goal.

There are four goal categories in the app including: finish a race, longest distance, lose weight, and total distance.

We looked at the distribution of users by goal type, and found that most users who set a goal select weight loss. Unfortunately for the majority of these users, losing weight has a much lower completion rate compared to distance-related goals. The average completion percentages for goals around total distance for example are roughly 500% higher than for weight loss goals. Perhaps it would be advisable for users who hope to lose weight to also set a distance goal to help provide motivation to burn those extra calories!

Of course, we must also consider that the completion rate for losing weight might be lower partially due to users neglecting to update their weight in the app, but it couldn’t hurt to set a more easily trackable intermediate goal to achieve the ultimate goal.

2. Set the right goal timeline.

It turns out that most goals are set to short term timelines, with the highest percentage (~34%) being 1-month timelines.

Luckily for most, this is the correct approach since short-term goals are associated with higher completion rates. In fact, by setting a distance-related goal timeline of 2 months, you are very likely to achieve more than 50% of your goal versus less than 40% if you plan to achieve your goal in 12 months. The exception to this is weight loss goals, for which completion rates tend to peak around the 10 to11 month timeline.

3. Set your goal early in the year.

Completion percentages for distance-related goals peak during February or March (~55%) and drop slightly to under 50% in the remaining months with a gradual decreasing trend for longest distance goal and a more pronounced decreasing trend then slight recovery for total distance goal.

4. Try Runkeeper Go Today!

Twice as many Runkeeper Go users as non-subscribers are completing 90% of their goal or more. This improved success is consistent across goal types, with under 5% of non-subscribers who set a weight-loss goal completing 90+% of the goal, and over 10% of Runkeeper Go users completing 90+% of their goal. Runkeeper Go users benefit from personalized workout plans that help them improve their success rate.

We hope these findings will help you achieve your goals. Happy Running!