There is nothing like a new beginning to kick-start old goals! The beauty of a new year is the opportunity for a fresh start, the chance to invigorate your training with increased commitment to new and returning goals. Thankfully, the New Year comes at a great time: right at the end of a period of indulgence, fun, and broken routine. January 1st gives you a very definite timeline: this is the day that you refuse desserts, drinks, and late night parties. This is the day that socializing no longer rules the calendar; replaced instead by training runs, workouts, trips to the gym and races. It is a perfect balance because it allows you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the holiday festivities knowing that there is a deadline for a return to the structure and commitment you crave. So without further ado, here are 10 tips for your new year running resolutions:
- Have some fun this holiday season! Allow yourself the permission to have a fun holiday season. It is ok to break the diet and exercise routine for a short period of time. Everyone needs a break and chances are, you deserve it. Most runners tend to be highly structured and committed folk, so do not be too hard on yourself if you enjoy an extra helping, dessert or glass of wine over the holidays. It is 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, I recommend being strict with yourself in January: no more desserts, no more extra drinks, and roll back that clock to a reasonable bed time again. There will be bumps along the resolution path, and it is best to start off on the stricter side of acceptability.
- Plan your 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 planning. It is really easy to get into the same routine of training, day after day, week after week, year after year. Your body adapts very quickly to a training routine and you will hit the wall if you always do the same thing. The analogy I like to use is the weight room: the first day on a new plan you are brutally sore and miserable. However, after a few weeks of the same routine you suddenly notice no difference in muscle soreness and find that was once difficult is now easy. Time for change! The same principle can be applied to your running. You cannot expect change if you do nothing to change it. Check out Run S.M.A.R.T. Project to connect with an expert coach today.
- Buy yourself a beautiful new training journal. Although some people prefer electronic logs or apps, I personally love starting the year with a beautiful new leather bound calendar that I use as a training log. My husband buys me the same journal every year – except in a different colour – so that my bookself is a kaleidoscope of colourful journals all neatly lined up, very much appealing to my type A personality. I really love cracking the binding for the first time and using my colourful gel pens to write my goals on the front cover. There is something about actually putting pen to paper that really motivates me on days that I am really dragging my butt. Some computer types prefer cuddling up with their excel spreadsheets and phone apps to record training, but for me, that’s too much like work. Regardless of your choice of poison, choose one! (Note: check out professional runners Lauren Fleshman and Rosin McGettingan’s inspirational training logs for women at www.believeiam.com)
- Keep a training journal. Seriously! Now that you own your gorgeous new journal (or set up your dream spreadsheet), be sure to use it. How can you legitimately work towards your goals if you do not keep track of what you are doing? A training journal is a very rich resource that will allow you to review what contributed to the ups and downs of a season. It does not need to be fancy, simply record how you are feeling, what you did, your mileage, your interval times, your health and how you felt on your run. There are no strict rules but to record at least what you did for your running everyday! There have been many days where the only thing that gets me out for a 2nd workout is the fear of leaving the afternoon section forever blank.
- 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 that 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 group! Yeah for people. 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 not the group entertainer; but be beware, you should be prepared to contribute positively to the group talk at some points in the run or you might get dropped from the invite-list!
- 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. It is one of my favourite tricks: when people arrive literally on my doorstep to go for a run, I would have to dig very deep to flake out.
- Commit to a race with your greenbacks (or in Canada, your multi-coloured-backs). No more wishy-washy “I think I will sign up” kind of attitude. Do it. Put down that credit card, 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 onboard with this approach.
- 90% Committed / 10% Flexible plan. Life happens and can thwart even your best-laid 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. The same can be said for diets gone sideways. Realize that eating a quart of ice cream one day does not constitute a new routine, but instead is just a slip and a chance for improvement the next day. Keep the big goal as the over-arching motivation to be your best self and bring out your best running year yet!
Good Luck and feel free to share your 2013 goals with me…because I think that is Resolution # 11…Share, Share, Share and get your team on board!