So a new year is upon us! Many folks tend to make New Year’s Resolutions, but end up breaking them before they know it. Usually some folks vow to lose weight or begin exercising. Some runners may resolve to run a certain time for a certain distance. In most cases, whatever the resolution is the individual making it never lays any realistic plans. Start the New Year off right by planning now and following through on your running resolutions for the coming year.
To begin, look back at how you’ve run during the past year by reviewing your running diary. Didn’t keep a running log? Perhaps that is your resolution for the coming year -- keeping a running diary. In order to know where you are going, you need to know where you have been. If you do not keep up with training and racing details, how are you to improve?
A running diary can be simple. Keep up daily with things like miles run, running pace, weather conditions, how you felt, how many hours you slept and your resting heart rate. Once a week, keep up with how many miles you ran, how many times that week you ran, how many times you did any cross training or strength training and how much you weigh. If you race, log what you ran, how fast, how far, how you felt and the weather conditions. Providing as many details as possible will help in the future when you look back at your training.
Keeping a running diary provides important history so that you do not make future mistakes. A running log can also be valuable for those running without a coach. For example, if you indicate in your running log that you consistently have trouble running a speed workout after eating a big fat burrito, perhaps you should not be eating burritos before such workouts.
If you have been keeping a running diary, look at how consistent you were in your training and how much you were training each week. Most distance runners try to average a certain amount of miles per week. During the base training period (which could be now), the mileage is going to be higher than during the racing/peaking period.
You’ve heard of the elite runners getting in 100-plus miles per week during their serious base training, but they did not begin at 100 miles. They had to gradually build up to that mileage, perhaps beginning at 20 miles a week, but were careful not to run too much, too soon and risk illness and injury.
Did you follow a realistic training schedule? Did you get in enough rest days? Did you train sufficient to achieve your goal times? Did you train hard on the hard days and easy on the easy days? If you answered no to any of these questions, you need to change your training regiment.
As I have stated before, if you do not have concrete goals and objectives, you will fail. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you have no solid plan. When do you want to lose these 10 pounds? A good plan would be to lose the 10 pounds over four months by running/walking 45 minutes a day, four times a week and following a sensible diet. You have established a deadline and you have a means.
If you are going to begin a running program, or start the New Year with “a new attitude” toward your running, you also need a reasonable plan to follow. Too many runners who do not have a coach make many mistakes coaching themselves. When training or racing becomes “stale” these coach-less runners end up experimenting with their training using a “band aid” approach that usually leads to frustration and sometimes injury.
The same holds true when it comes to racing. If you don’t have a set plan, you will not maximize your results. Many runners race too much. Pre-determine the number of races you’ll run this year and peak for one or two. For the coach-less runners, they usually limit their results because if they race poorly this weekend, they’ll race the next weekend and so forth. All you’re doing by racing every weekend is becoming a mediocre runner.
So, like the person resolving to lose 10 pounds, the runner trying to get a new start in the New Year needs to have a goal (run a marathon) and a plan of action (finish a marathon under four hours by training six months at 8:30 mile goal pace by working up to 50 miles a week and a long run per week of 16 miles). Without a plan to follow, you will face certain failure when times get tough. And they will get tough! It’s a matter of how bad do you want it?
It’s always easy the first couple of days of starting anything new when you are filled with enthusiasm. But enthusiasm is not going to carry you very far. I’ve been told the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I’ve seen plenty of folks over the years that had good intentions. They want to get the best out of themselves or make some changes. But in a short time, qualities like discipline, desire, dedication and determination are vulnerable and the results will fall short of expectations.
In the end, perhaps those who lack discipline, desire, dedication and determination are setting themselves up for failure if they are not willing to strengthen these qualities? What ever your resolutions are for the coming year, be willing to acknowledge your shortcomings and be open to a different approach if you truly want to realize your resolutions. Good luck!