As each January comes around, almost everyone is primed and motivated to kick-off their New Year’s resolutions. Runners are no different. Perhaps more important than making a resolution, though, is achieving those goals. A key is to make a resolution that is realistic for you – and only you.
Now that 2018 is here, it’s not too late to establish your goals for this New Year if you haven’t already. To help you out, we compiled a list of 10 great New Year’s resolutions that are challenging but achievable – lace up your shoes and get started!
1. Establish a Regular Running Routine
Make running a consistent part of your daily routine, whether it’s first thing in the morning, on your lunch break or right after work. Start by taking it slow, because jumping into it too quickly will not only zap your motivation, but can also lead to injury. Begin with 15 to 20-minute runs in the first week and work up to longer distances from there. This helps build stamina and establish a routine without over-stressing your body. The key is to plan it into your day to make it regular and routine; and remember that the hardest part is getting out the door.
2. Set a 5K Personal Record
Setting a personal record (PR) in any distance is a common running goal, whether it’s a New Year’s Resolution or not. Whether you’re a short or long distance runner, though, setting a 5K PR can be a great way to restore some spring in your step, especially if you’ve gotten into a rut of running longer, slower miles. Of course, it also means you will likely have to start doing some speedwork. For older runners who may be past the PR days of their prime, setting an age group PR is perfectly acceptable!
3. Challenge Yourself to a New Type of Race
Sometimes you can get stuck in the rut of running the same races every year. Resolve to try a new type of race this year, whether it’s a new distance (like running a 30K or a 50K), new location (maybe some place you’ve never been) or new type of terrain (such as a trail run). Mixing up your race distances will keep you on your toes, and the change of scenery and people will motivate you to run better. Take some time to browse through all the interesting races in your location of choice and sign up for one or more that piques your interest.
4. Discover Yoga
Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility, strength, and mental state, in addition to using it to wind down and find motivation. Resolve to find a gym or yoga studio and get to a class once or twice a week. If you don’t want to spend the time or money for a class, fortunately you can also practice yoga at home using videos available online. Keep in mind that frequency is more crucial than duration. Adding shorter yoga sessions to your weekly routine can be extremely beneficial too.
5. Add a Daily Challenge to Strengthen Your Core
Keeping your core strong is something every runner should resolve to do. Find an exercise you can do daily to help strengthen your core, such as pushups or planks, and establish a goal to work toward throughout the year. It will only take five minutes out of your day. For example, if you decide you want to do pushups every morning, start with 20 and work up to 60 by the end of the year by adding two to three pushups a week. If you want to work on your plank, start with one minute planks every morning and work up to 5 min by the end of the year by adding 15 seconds over several weeks at a time. Whatever you decide to do, make your goal challenging but achievable based on your fitness level. If you need to work up to it, start with what you can do and add consistently over time. You’ll be amazed at what you can work up to!
6. Get Rid of a Bad Habit in your Running Routine
Every runner has at least one bad habit that needs to be broken. What’s yours? Do you skip your stretching routine before or after your run? Do you fail to hydrate properly for your run? Do you forget to put on sunscreen before you run? Do you run too hard on your rest days? Whatever it is, pick one bad habit and resolve to break it this year.
7. Join a Running Group or Club
Running is almost always more fun when it’s done in the company of other like-minded runners. Joining a running group will not only spark motivation, but also help keep you accountable towards achieving your goals. Meeting new people and learning from those with experience is a bonus, not to mention that some of the clubs have a coach that can really get you on the right track.
8. Educate Yourself More about Running
There is so much to learn about running, whether it involves reading about famous runners, training strategies, or the physiological aspects of running. As a runner, it’s probably all interesting and relevant to you. Resolve to educate yourself on this hobby that you love by reading a book a month or an online article each week. You’ll likely find yourself more motivated to run because you’ll be inspired by what you read.
9. Clean up Your Eating Habits
Runners love to eat - no doubt about it. We certainly burn off enough calories to support that love of eating; but it’s important to make sure what we’re putting into our body helps to fuel our engine properly. Resolve to eat clean this year: more local fruits and vegetables, more lean protein, more water, more whole grains, less sugar and cut out the processed foods. Become conscious of the actual nutritional value of what you consume. Your body will thank you for it.
10. Listen to your Body
This may be the best resolution of all for some runners - especially the over-achievers among us who find it hard to slow down. Runners are pretty used to pain and discomfort, whether it’s during a training run or on race day; but sometimes too much pain can be a red flag. Too much discomfort can be a sign of over-training. In the upcoming year, persuade yourself that it’s okay to take a break now and then if you feel illness or injury coming on. It’s okay to take some time off after a big race. Treat your body with the love and care it needs to perform.
Runners are well-known for setting ambitious goals, whether that means chasing a lofty PR, participating in a race longer than we’ve ever run, or deciding to run a certain number of miles over the course of year. That’s a good thing. Goals are highly encouraged and, one might argue, a necessary part of improvement. The tricky part, particularly when it comes to running-related goals, is that it may take weeks or even months to see actual progress and or achievement; but that shouldn’t stop you. Be patient and persevere. Hard work and perseverance does pay off.
Happy running in 2018!