A new year, new goals, and new hopes as a runner? The easiest part is to start strong in your training and to desire to accomplish those new goals. Yet, one by one, many end up far from hitting their running goals by the end of the year. In this blog, I write about how you can keep on track in 2021.
Starting out slow is not the end of the world. In fact, most of the time we start out too fast and do too much. It’s like what most runners do on race day, they take off only to slow down a lot by the end of the race. If you haven’t been able to run the miles and get in the workouts you have been dreaming about, don’t panic. Take a few deep breaths because you are still in a great position to gradually build up to where you need to be. I use the world “gradual” because sometimes starting out too fast can cause injury if our mileage and intensity goes beyond what our bodies can tolerate. Pace yourself. Gradually work up your mileage and intensity in workouts.
Take it one day at a time. Do your best today. If you can’t run, do your best to rest. Rest is just as important as training. Our bodies need recovery days every week. Just because you couldn’t run doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your goals. If you have mileage goals, you will have other opportunities to put in an extra mile or two. Again, don’t panic. You can also gain extra miles by putting in a few two a days down the road. Do what you can today and don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow.
There are lots of other exercises that you can do besides running to help supplement your fitness. Strength training, breath training, stretching, visualization, and cross-training are great options if you can’t run because of muscle soreness, injury, illness, or schedule conflicts. It is also important to realize that maintaining a steady healthy diet is also important for many of us to get to our goals. For some, weight loss will help us achieve our “time” or “distance” goals for running. All of the “other” things we do besides just running can really add up to helping us get to our 2021 running goals.
Don’t get discouraged by bad workouts. You can’t always control how your body feels because of life’s stresses. Life can have a big affect on you emotionally, mentally, and physically. You may not be sleeping well or much for certain periods of time. Then there is always the possibility of battling a cold or flu or nagging pain. Sometimes we just don’t feel good or our legs are heavy or the conditions like weather aren’t ideal for fast times or long distances. Even the best runners in the world have bad days. Lots and lots of bad days. Again, trust that your body will recover or the conditions will get better. You never know what part of the running cycle your body is in sometimes. In fact, you might be running slow and sluggish this week but peaking the next week.
Don’t compare your results with others. Trust your coach or training plan. In today’s running world you can see what everyone else is doing on Strava or other social media. Stay focused on your own training and the progress you are trying to make. Sometimes seeing what everyone else is doing only creates more anxiety and can get you down. However, sometimes a little extra inspiration planned throughout the year is helpful. I like to find inspiration out of other runners stories and in running movies/sports movies. It’s amazing what just one movie can do to light a fire under you once again. It is also helpful to have some family and friends who can encourage you and hold you acccountable to training.
I find that having a cause to run for may help a lot. For example, I trained for and ran a 100 miles for adoption. I know a guy who dedicates his runs to past veterans and their families. He also raises money for them. When we attach running to more than ourselves it can be highly motivating. Some people also find it helpful to be a part of a team or running group. Again, running with others or for a cause outside of ourselves may be just what you need to help stay on course to hit your 2021 goals.
Lastly, go treat yourself from time to time. Buy a pair of running shoes you have been wanting. I bet you’ll be eager to try them out and break them in. Reward yourself with a new running watch or outfit for hitting your monthly or quarterly training goals. I have a blast just getting out there to test out new running gear or nutrition. 2021 is a new year and I hope a few of these things help you in your new goals. Be tough, be consistent, and believe in yourself! Let’s make 2021 a great year!