The beauty of a new year is the opportunity for a fresh start, the chance to invigorate your training with increased commitment to a new goal. Without further ado, here are 10 tips on how to build a New Year’s Running Plan you can stick with:
- Have some fun this holiday season! Allow yourself the permission to relax. It’s good to give your body and mind the occasional break and you can justify the social season with knowing that January 1st marks a clean start.
- January 1st, 2013: Cold turkey, baby! Rip that band-aid off fast and hard. There is no such thing as “weaning” yourself into good habits; you just need to make a clear, decisive move towards achieving your new goals. For this reason, be strict with yourself in January: No more desserts, no more extra drinks, and roll back that clock to a reasonable bedtime again.
- Commit to a race. No more wishy-washy “I think I will sign up” kind of attitude. Do it. And if you really need the extra incentive choose a totally awesome destination race to justify a holiday. You might not feel you have time and money for a holiday in Hawaii this winter, but if you have to go for a race, well that’s a different story! Chances are your partner and friends will also be on board with this approach.
- You’ve got your race, now get a plan! Map out some goals, chart how you need to get there, and if possible, get professional advice. Even for very experienced runners, a new perspective and approach can do wonders to re-invigorate your training. Customize one of legendary coach Jack Daniels’ Training Plans.
- Use a smartphone app or online service to track your training and provide motivation. It will act as a digital log for all your workouts and clue you into important factors like the exact distance of each run and your pace per mile. Saucony’s RUN4GOOD app is a great one to try, since it tracks your training and counts your miles toward charitable donations, which is a huge motivating factor for many runners.
- Remember that every cell in your body is replaceable! A friend once told me that every cell in the body regenerates every 6 months, although I think biologists might disagree. Nevertheless, I like to think of diet and weight management in terms of health and nutrition. The better you fuel your body, the better it will feel and perform. Take January as an opportunity to build strong, clean cells. And remember, do not buy fuel for your body where you buy fuel for your car!
- Find a training group! While some people thrive in their own mental space, it is nice to mix things up. My preference is to find a large group to run with or a particularly chatty friend so I can be entertained as long as possible with minimal contribution. The time goes by quickly and you avoid side stitches from uneven breathing if you are the group entertainer.
- Accountability. Maybe a word generally reserved for work, but meeting a group, a clinic, a friend or a coach really helps keep your running on track. Bonus points if you can work an arrangement whereby they come to you, minimizing an opportunity of calling off a workout due to “tiredness” or “headaches” when the snow is blowing hard and the mercury is low.
- Beat the cold! If you’re in a colder climate, prepare with the right gear and incorporate treadmill running. Check out our article, Winter Training Tips, on the Run S.M.A.R.T. blog for more info.
- 90% Committed/10% Flexible. Life happens and can thwart even your best plans. Kids get sick, work gets hectic, winter flu hits home. Do not be too hard on yourself if you are not able to follow your plan to a T. If you have a bad day or week, allow yourself the opportunity to look forward positively and not dwell on the lost time. Keep your long terms goal as the overarching motivation to be your best self and bring out your best running year yet!
How do you stick with your running resolutions?