Sunday, November 10, 2013

Set Your New Year's Running Resolutions Now

I never understood the point of New Year’s resolutions. Sure, you’re turning the calendar, and sure, a stressful holiday season is ending, but Jan. 1 ranks among the worst days to start something anew. It’s often cold, there’s not much sunlight, it’s a holiday, most people are hung over, and there’s about 14 hours of college football to be watched. It’s very easy to put off until tomorrow what you just don’t feel like doing today. 

That’s why I’m formulating my running resolutions now. I’m more than a month removed from my marathon, and about two weeks out from a half. I’ve entered a Twilight Zone of sorts. Family obligations make a Turkey Trot impossible this year, and the next marathon I’m targeting isn’t until May, so for the next few weeks I have nothing for which to train. 

Most of you, I imagine, are in the same boat, having just finished a fall marathon or other milestone race and started to wonder what’s next. Now -- not Jan. 1 -- is the time to start setting firm goals. 

Here are mine, along with a bit of advice if you’re planning to do the same. 

Join a running club. I very well may wait until the new year to start, as that’s when marathon training will commence, but it’s finally gonna happen. Those of you who need a jolt of motivation, or at the very least a break from ennui, need not wait. 

Run a marathon PR. I was off by 19 seconds last time. 

Run another PR. Haven’t picked a distance yet. I fell short of a PR in both half marathons I ran in 2013, but I did run my fastest 10K. We’ll see what happens. (It won’t count, I’ve decided, if I race at a brand-new distance such as a 15K or, as I saw around Halloween, 6.66 miles.) 

Run 1,200 miles. In the days before dailymile, when I logged mileage in a yearly planner and notebook, I hit 1,000 miles a few times. (I think. Those notebooks are long gone.)  I’ll come close this year but miss the mark. Next year, I plan to run two marathons, so 1,000 should be easy. But 1,200 may be a stretch. 

Strengthen my hips. In my last marathon, my hips started to hurt about 16 miles in. (Who am I kidding? I have no idea when it was.) This happened during training, too, so I know it’s something to focus on. I’ve added hip stretches to my post-run routine and my off-day cross-training exercises. If any muscles or joints have been giving you similar trouble, now’s the time to start giving them some TLC and build their strength.  
Throw out a bunch of old, disgusting running shirts. You probably should, too. Admit it: You have a few in the back of your closet. If you can’t bear the thought of losing them, you can use them to wash your car, or clean up nasty spills, or line the beds your pets sleep on. Just don’t wear them in public anymore, OK? 

Yes, setting goals now is a bit unconventional, given societal norms and all. But I know I’m more likely to keep running through the holiday season, and on Jan. 1, 2014, if I have clear goals in mind for the year ahead. Without resolutions in mind, there’s less reason to head out for a run on a cold, possibly snowy day. 

Have any of you thought about your running goals for 2014 yet? If you haven’t, now’s a good time to start, before the holiday season begins and no one has time to think about anything. If you have, great. Start putting them into action.