Updated: Dec 26, 2020
New Year’s Resolutions - a contentious topic! We all know the cliche of the newly-purchased exercise equipment or gym-membership that ends up going unused after the first month or two of the year. But for the average runner who has already built a pattern of consistent running, are resolutions helpful? Perhaps, or perhaps not. As usual, it varies by person. Here’s my take.
Personally, I think about a New Year’s “Intention.” Maybe that's semantics, but to me, an intention is an overall guiding theme that I want to carry throughout the year. By my definition, it’s less “strict” than a resolution, which means it’s easier to get back after on board if you lose sight of it for a few days or weeks.
Here are a few ideas on running-related “Intentions” that I’ve had and occasionally recommended to athletes I work with.
Consistency A goal of consistency could look very different for each person. Some people do a running “streak,” running every day. Some may focus on trying to hit every prescribed training run, no matter what. For long-term training, neither of those are ideal.
Run-streaks can be incredibly unhealthy both mentally and physically, and will almost always be detrimental to your training. Similarly, forcing yourself to ‘stick to the plan’ when things are clearly not going well... that’ll backfire as well. Please be careful and use those techniques with caution for shorter periods of time, or better yet, not at all!
I think a better plan for most people might be to try to always do 20 minutes where there’s a run scheduled in your training, unless there’s an injury or severe illness concern. Everything going great? Good, stick to the plan! Tired after a 12-hour day and can’t fit in 8 miles? Great, get in 20-minutes and sleep well knowing you kept your mind and body used to consistent running.
Trust Ahhh a mental goal! This is a tough one, and could mean different things to different people. First, I think that many runners spend far too much time thinking about, planning, evaluating and judging their training. If you can compartmentalize your day into your running time and non-running time, in all likelihood not only will your run/life balance be better, your training will be better too.
See, fitness improvements happen over long time scales. You're not going to see any improvements in a week, and while you might see them in a month, the real progress happens over many months and years. If you spend time looking at your running data, trying to figure out if you ran too fast, too slow, too high a heart rate... etc., you are probably putting too much weight on an individual run.
So, trust. Trust the process of training. Trust that your body, with proper training, can meet your goals. If you follow your plan, you will make progress. It doesn't really matter if one single run went poorly, or if you bonked on a long run, or if you ran your workout too slow.
One problem with that overanalyzing, is that data is not as objective as some people think.
“The Little Things” We all have a list of running-related things we want to do, know we should be doing, and yet somehow often neglect doing on a regular basis. Strength training, foam rolling, mobility, PT/Rehab exercises, yoga... the list goes on. I have yet to meet a runner who doesn’t wish they were at least a little more on top of things in this department.
My recommendation: make a schedule. It’s unreasonable to expect yourself to do a 20 minute strength routine plus 5 minutes of foam rolling, plus a few mobility exercises EVERY day. You’re already running for an hour, and in the winter it feels like it takes that long to get dressed and undressed. So break it up. Make a schedule so you’re hitting everything you need/want to do at least a few times a week. Every day there’s a little variety, and you’re unlikely to think “ugh I did it yesterday, I can skip today”... eight days in a row.
It might just be the biggest "little" thing that you do to improve your running!
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