While the world is still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, and a level of uncertainty fills the air, you might be wondering if it’s even worth setting new running goals for 2021. We are here to tell you that it is absolutely worth it – as running keeps you fit, strong and healthy, gives you a sense of belonging and achievement and helps to prevent depression and anxiety.

In fact, many of our athletes from Fitness From Africa (FFA) have shared just how much running has helped them get through lockdown – and not just survive, but thrive!

Countless studies, including one from The University of South Florida prove that goal setting, with performance feedback from a professional, are useful tools to improve running performance for those wanting to increase distance, speed, endurance and more.

Start With The Basics

Whether you’re a track runner, cross country, marathon or ultra-runner, the importance of getting the basics in place can’t be over-emphasised – as they’ll help you reach your end goal, explains running coach and founder of Fitness From Africa, Marcel Viljoen.

“It has been revealed that world 800m record holder, David Rudisha runs around 100miles (160km) per week to get and keep him in top form, while elite marathon and ultra-runners do more than 200km per week to get them ready for race day,” he says.

Here are some key benefits of building a solid foundation:


  • Improved cardiovascular fitness - aerobic volume and aerobic power
  • Increase in leg strength through low intensity hill training.
  • Improved flexibility and range of motion through hill work
  • Improved running efficiency


  • Achieved through enhanced oxygen transportation and cardiovascular adaptation.


  • Programming the mind through gradually increasing running time, as well as adaptation to the demands of each training component. .

How To Make The Most Of Your Base Phase

  • Set some base training goals, such as weekly mileage, number of strength and/or hill sessions per week and end-by-date of the phase.
  • Plan some long runs with training partners to share the building phase
  • Keep an eye on you main goal(s) to ensure you don't do too much in the begining of your training cycle.

After you’ve picked your target race(s) for the season, working, backwards to where you are right now will make it a lot easier to know how best to tackle the first phase and then to start riding that wave of fitness all the way to race day!

Not Sure Where To Begin With Your Running Goals?

It’s a good idea to see us for a fitness test/assessment, where we can identify your strengths and areas of improvement, as well as look at things like your waking heart rate, how much rest you’re getting and your sleep quality – which all work together to improve performance.

Consider a Fitness Test

“The exciting news is that with a fitness test, there are multiple areas we can look at – which is code for multiple opportunities for improvement,” says Marcel. “The beauty of conditioning your body with specific goals is that as you get the foundations in place, many other areas fall into place as well,” he adds.

As you may well imagine, these tests can be time consuming and have imminent financial
implications. So, you need to establish when and which evaluations you need to start with, but
either way, you need to start somewhere..

Areas one can assess include:

Physical Fitness

Such as body composition, range of motion and flexibility, joint stability, general and specific strength, speed, agility, reaction time, coordination, stamina, endurance, anaerobic threshold, heart rate, and training profile.

Technical Analysis

Where we look at how you move and whether you have the correct
equipment or footwear for your body type and biomechanics.

Tactical Analysis

Where we ask you questions such as, “Do you compete with sound
strategies or game plans? Do you know when and where things normally go wrong and what needs to be done to improve? Have you seen video footage of yourself in competition or during an event?”

Tactical Analysis

Where we ask you questions such as, “Do you compete with sound
strategies or game plans? Do you know when and where things normally go wrong and what needs to be done to improve? Have you seen video footage of yourself in competition or during an event?”

Psychological Evaluation

Here, we determine your level of focus during preparation and on
competition days, how well you handle pressure when it’s game time and how confident you feel
about achieving your goals.

General Health Assessment

Including blood pressure, lung function, cardio stress test,
neurological function and joint functionality.

Nutrional Evaluation

Where we look at possible nutritional deficiencies, caloric intake, and
what type of foods you should be eating to reach your goals. We also look at pre-and post-race
nutrition, as well as which supplements you should be taking.

For every season there is opportunity, says Marcel. “If you don’t already have some solid goals in place, start dreaming about where you want to be. Think about how you will feel once you achieve your goals.

Start planning now how you’ll test to see where you are right now and who will be
privileged to join you on that journey!”

For an online fitness assessment, or to discuss your specific goals and needs, email Marcel at
marcel@fitnessfromafrica.co.za or click here for more info.