January is a time for resolutions, goal making, and bettering oneself. I fully believe any time of the year is a good time to make goals and better oneself, but alas, it seems to happen right around the first of the year, and right after everyone eats too much, drinks too much, and moves their bodies too little.
I have already set my goals for 2016, and though I have to take a bit of a break due to my knee, I’m not going to let that stop me from working hard toward my goals. I have some resolutions for you to choose from, pick one from each set to give yourself a little push to get out of your comfort zones! These resolutions can be for brand new runners and veteran runners alike!
1. Commit to running 1 race per month. This goal is fantastic for those runners who maybe need a kick in the pants to step up their training. If you’re new to running, sign up for a 5k at the end of January! You can walk/run the race, or even just walk it all, and you’ll work toward your goals more if you have a deadline (a race) to shoot for. Lots of 5ks give out finishers medals these days, which is even cooler, hang that bling up and work toward the next goal!
1. Focus less on races, and more on running. For those runners who feel burnt out on races, or maybe raced too many races in 2015 (I’m raising my own hand here!), maybe stop signing up for races, and focus on getting in some solid training runs.
2. Join a running group! Or ask a friend to run with you! If you typically run solo, joining a group or running with a friend can give you some extra encouragement to tackle tough runs. Find someone a little bit faster than you to really challenge you, or join a group and chat things up with a new buddy. Running with others often makes the time go faster, and the miles seem easier. Plus, it’s safer to run with someone!
2. Try running solo! If you normally run all your runs with a group or a friend, try running solo. Running by yourself can present its own challenges, you have to pace yourself, there’s nobody to talk to, you have to carry your own water or fuel (I’m not saying you would make your friend carry it otherwise, but sometimes group runs have support stations along the course). Be sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, but try a solo run to change things up.
3. Skip wearing your watch, and run by feel. Many runners, myself included, can easily become slaves to the Garmin. How is my pace? How are my splits? What is my heart rate? Can I negative split? Try leaving the watch at home, or turn off the RunKeeper or Nike app on your phone, and just run by feel. If you absolutely must know how far you’ve gone (me!) plug the data into a computer when you get home and track your route to find out your miles, but leave the pace and all the data behind. It’s refreshing and energizing to run by feel, and not worry about all the numbers.
3. Skip running with music or a podcast, and listen to your body. By leaving your music behind, you not only can listen to the road or trail for anything out of the ordinary, but you can also listen to your body! Listen to your breathing and your footsteps on the pavement. Do a mental scan of your body – how do your feet feel with each step, what about your arm swing? Are you standing upright or leaning over when you can’t breathe? It’s easy to become distracted with music and it’s often the entire point of running with music to not have to focus on running, but try it sometime, and see what your body is telling you during the run.
4. Add strength training to pump up your game. If you only run, you’ll only build the muscles used to run. But having a strong body, with all the muscles strong and engaged, makes you a better runner. This is something I’m working on, and the evidence is out there that having a strength routine along with running helps keep you injury-free and likely to PR in your races or on training runs!
4. Try a group fitness class, like spinning, yoga, or zumba, for some great cross training. If you aren’t ready for strength training yet, definitely get into some sort of cross-training routine. Classes like spinning, yoga, zumba, pilates, or kick boxing can keep your heart rate up, so your burning fat, but you’re also using other muscles and strengthening your body, which does nothing but help your running.
Now that you have some ideas for what you can do to not only shake up your running routine, but also to add goals for the new year, share your goals or resolutions with me, and remember, these tips and goals aren’t just for the new year, they can be implemented any time to make you a better, stronger, and happier runner!