Tips to Keep Your New Year's Running Resolutions
By Amy Thoma
I love New Years. Like the first day of school each new year brings the opportunity to start clean, spend some time thinking about my goals and to lay out a plan to reach them. Like most of America, at least one of my goals is related to fitness—running specifically. Usually it’s to set a new personal best at a distance or complete a new kind of race successfully. This year I’ll be tackling the Eugene Marathon and hoping to better my best time by 11 minutes. I know, lofty. But I’ve found that you need to set a goal to start running.
Here are some tips to get you started and keep you going.
Have realistic expectations
If you’re out of shape, haven’t run in your entire life or consider eating cookies exercise, you’re probably not going to be able to get out there and set any records straight out of the gate. Set a long-term goal like running for an hour without stopping, completing your first 5 or 10k and give yourself a series of short term goals so you don’t get frustrated.
Sign up for a race or run and tell someone. Or a lot of someones. The physical act of signing up and committing should be enough to scare you into sticking to it.
Have a plan
Give yourself a concrete, structured training plan so you aren’t tempted to slack off or invent excuses to quit. RunnersWorld.com has great free plans for all levels and all race distances- just make sure the plan you choose is appropriate for your level. Going out and randomly running is great, but a structured plan is much more effective.
There are tons of training groups in Sacramento like Fleet Feet, Athletes in Motion, Sac FIT, Running for Rhett and many, many others. Running with friends is a blast and most of these programs have experienced coaches who will guide you to your goal.
When you meet a short term goal, reward yourself! Whenever I complete a particularly difficult workout or run or set a new personal best I buy myself a piece of running gear. Having something new gets me excited to get out the door. I’m like a puppy- if there’s a treat, I’ll work for it. It can be something small like a new pair of socks or five new songs from iTunes. When you complete your long-term goal, treat yourself to something big. When I ran my first marathon I got a brand new pair of Uggs and when I set a new personal record in the 5k I allowed myself the French toast from Tower Café.
Wear Proper Footwear
I hate to break it to you, but your cross trainers or gym shoes aren’t good enough for running. They’re actually terrible. Before you hit the pavement go to Fleet Feet or another running specialty store and get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes. The right shoe will prevent injury, cushion your foot and is absolutely essential. Do not buy them online or cheap out. A good pair will cost around $100 but trust me- they are worth every penny.
Find gear that makes your life easy
I have a GPS watch that tracks time and distance. Something about seeing the miles tick by on the watch makes me run faster and longer. I also have an ipod shuffle I use when I run by myself- listening to music makes the miles speed by for me.
If you want to get faster, go faster
Getting faster is a painful and sometimes frustrating process. And the only way to get faster is to run faster. Speed work doesn’t have to be fancy- once or twice per week run a little bit harder and faster than you would normally. If you listen to music, sprint the choruses and jog the verses. Or after a bit of a warm up run hard from 1-2 minutes and jog for 1-2 minutes. Not fancy, but it’ll work.
Don’t give up!
It’s easy to get fired up for a few weeks and slip back into old habits. You’re going to get sore, there will be days you won’t want to go but if you stick with it, you’ll reach your goal! Don’t let setbacks, minor injuries or sore spots or general laziness get in the way!