T’is the season for taking stock

By David Harding, Ottawa Running Club

This is a great time of year to refresh your mind and body, and to get motivated about the things you want to achieve next year in your running. It’s also an opportunity to do a post-mortem on your past season in preparation for setting goals and training next year.

So, grab a coffee and some paper or your tablet, find a quiet spot and ask yourself some hard questions.


Did you achieve the goals you set for yourself this year?

If the answer is yes, write down a list of things that worked for you and think about how you can build on the confidence you gained to achieve even greater things next year. What specific workouts helped give you that confidence? Was there a schedule that seemed to suit you and allow you to achieve the right balance in your life? Did you find a pre-race routine that really clicked? By taking a minute to note these things that worked, you’ll be reaffirming a foundation for success in 2014.

Remember also, that if you achieved some personal bests this year, you will need to adjust your goals for next year and try to reach even farther!

If you struggled to reach your goals this year, think about what the obstacles or challenges were that you can target for improvement—do you need to find a different training schedule, find more time for running, or for recovery? Or do you need to re-think the goals you are setting for yourself? A key factor in staying motivated is to make sure that you have set realistic goals that are within your control. If you do want to make some changes in your life and training, don’t try to tackle everything at once; staying focused on one or two improvements at a time will be more achievable and sustainable.

Now that we’re looking forward, there are several things you can do to keep motivated in your running throughout the cold, dark winter days ahead. Sign up for a spring race now, put it on your calendar, and put your training plan together. Join a running club, or put together your own group of running friends. It’s always easier to get out for a long run on a cold, wet day if you know that someone is waiting for you to show up! Start a friendly challenge, and encourage your colleagues at work or school to join you in training for a race.

Just make sure that you ease into your training, especially if you have taken time off from running in the fall. If you are new to running, your goal is to begin an exercise regime that will stay with you for many years. Start slow and build gradually. If you are an experienced runner, you will need to re-acquaint your body to the demands of training. Gradually increase volume, and listen to what your body is telling you as the runs get longer.

If you run consistently through the winter, you will have a great base to build on once it’s time to shed those extra layers of clothes next spring!


David Harding is a coach with the Ottawa Running Club and Ottawa Triathlon Club. For the past two seasons he has led the Ottawa Running Club’s marathon training group in preparation for the Ottawa Marathon.