Keep your New Year’s Resolutions: Practical Advice from 5 Real Runners
By now, your New Years resolutions might be in danger. You resolved to be better to yourself this year. You committed to self-improvement. You told yourself that your running endurance, abilities, and personal bests would all get upgrades.
But resolving to do something and actually doing it are two separate things. Bad habits might already be knocking softly or hammering loudly at your door, demanding to be let back in.
So how can you keep your running resolutions?
To keep you on track, we asked five runners to share their tips – and their running resolutions – for running in the new year.
Resolve to be Detail-Oriented
Let’s say you resolve to run your first marathon next year. Start by writing that down. But don’t stop there: get specific. Determine the race day, how far you can currently run, how many weeks you have to train, and write all that down.
“In all cases, the more you keep your goals in the forefront of your mind, the higher the chance you’ll actually do them,” says Andrew Paterson. “Write them down and tape them to your mirror. Or refer to that spreadsheet on a weekly basis.”
Lisa Sun always makes sure her running resolutions fit the SMART criteria: they have to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. She insists on getting very specific so she can abide by a detailed marathon training schedule.
“I would like run to a sub-4 full marathon at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend,” she says. “This would be a PB of 43 seconds.”
Break Down Big Goals
To help you reach your running goals (especially ambitious ones), set a weekly mileage so that you stick to your training.
For Patterson this means lining up a series of connected race. He plans to run a sub-three-hour marathon at Boston, to run a 50 km ultra-marathon, a half marathon PB, a 5 km PB, a sub-five-minute mile, and to do a backflip.
“Having mini-goals makes the task less daunting,” says Paterson. “It also helps you get your butt out the door when you’d rather sleep in or stay warm by the fire!”
Every February, Erika Goreski completes what she calls a “run streak” in February. Regardless of the conditions, she chooses a minimum distance to run every single day.
“Year after year I’ve done 5K as my minimum,” she says. “If I run 5K and I feel I’m done, I’ll return home. If after I’ve run my 5K and I feel I can keep going, I will! Either way, I feel accomplished.”
Schedule It All In
Some runners tend to train harder and faster as race day approaches, while forgetting the importance of rest and recovery. Sleeping eight hours a night, stretching regularly, and eating nutritious meals are essential.
“Running should integrate into a routine, not disrupt it. Once you get the feel of how running will work itself into your weeks, you can adjust or modify where needed,” says Kristel Gauthier.
Last year Gauthier set a resolution was to run a 10K in under 45 minutes.
“I increased my speed and interval workouts to twice a week, then built up mileage while maintaining those tempo runs,” she says. “I was finally able to run a 42:57 (her PB) in October.”
This year, one of her resolutions is to qualify for Boston. She’ll also wants to give her body more time to recover in between workouts, which means making time for more stretching, rolling and yoga.
There are three simple ways to stick to your schedule: tell others about your goals, ask a friend to run with you, or register for a race.
“Every year, I sign up for a race far off in the distance that is bigger than I am,” says Goreski. “It’s a distance or a skill that exceeds my current ability. At the time of registration, I know I’m not ready. That gives me incentive to be honest about my training.”
In 2019, Stephanie Ranger resolved to run 12 races in 12 months. She found this was the only thing keeping her motivated to train through the winter months.
“I’m admittedly a fair-weather runner, so I spent most of the winter months inside on the treadmill,” she says – which is a great way to escape the below zero temperatures.
Ranger signed up for races with a running buddy. “We didn’t run the actual race together,” she says, “but we both knew that we had committed to each other.”
If you are new to running and don’t have any buddies yet – you’re in luck because the running community is a very welcoming one. You can join a running club – where you’re sure to find people with the same goals who may turn into running buddies – or you can hire a running coach if you prefer to have a more structured and personalised running experience.
In the Face of Winter Running – Stay Strong!
Let’s face it: running is hard in the snow and cold. It can be hard just to get out the door! But once you get moving the excuses usually dissipate, says Goreski.
You can even work your way up to it. A five-minute aerobic warm up before every run will help brace you for the cold and reduce the chances of injury.
Proper clothing and gear will make a world of difference too. Base layers on your legs and torso will keep you comfortable and wick moisture away and a good breathable coat will ensure moisture doesn’t get trapped against your skin. Heat escapes quickly from your extremities so keep your head, face and hands warm and dry.
How should you gauge what you need? A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 10 degrees warmer than it actually is – that means at 0° Celsius dress like it’s 10°. For Gauthier, it means wearing a toque when it’s lower than -10° Celsius and a headband in warmer temperatures.
“Buffs are great for protecting your face from the wind and cold,” she adds. “And let’s not forget about runny noses. Hey, it happens! And these act as a portable Kleenex.”
To stay safe during the shorter and colder days wear winter running shoes, ice grips, reflective clothing and lights, but keep in mind: sometimes it’s just too cold or icy out there. There’s nothing wrong with staying in to stay safe – especially when treadmills, stretching, and recovery are all great options.
“Whatever your resolutions may be, don’t be too hard on yourself,” says Gauthier. “Running brings joy to so many. Don’t let it be taken from you.”
Like we said registering for a race is a great way to meet your running resolutions. Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend is one of the first running events of spring and is a great to kick off the season – we hope to see you on the start line in May!