The New Year always feels like it’s filled with potential. Although we can start new things at any time of year, somehow New Year always feels like the right time to dedicate our time to something worthwhile.
Fitness goals are perennial favorites when it comes to resolutions. If you’re looking to improve your running in the coming year, why not set some New Year’s resolutions specifically related to running? Not only can it give you new goals to aim for, but it can also help prevent boredom from setting into your running routine.
Here are our favorite New Year’s resolutions for runners that aim to improve performance, deepen your enjoyment of the sport, and help you to reach your running goals.
1. Try different ways and places to run
It can be easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to running. You may run at the same time every day, take the same route every time or go the same distance or pace.
This year, why not try changing up your running routine to incorporate some things that may be out of your running comfort zone?
The easiest way to make a change is to run a different route. You can try running your current route backward at first, as it will be the same distance and still slightly familiar to you.
To find new routes, you can use any GPS navigation system to plot out a course that will be a similar distance to your usual run. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, just set off in a new direction and see where it leads you!
Apart from your route, you could always try a different form of running if you want to challenge yourself. If you’re primarily a road runner, why not include trail running in your routine this year? If you mainly run the trails, add some track work to your schedule to improve your speed. And if you’re looking for a bigger challenge, try barefoot running or ultra running.
Does adding a new form of running sound overwhelming? Maybe just change up your training slightly instead of doing something drastic. Include some interval training or fartlek runs. Find a new form of cross-training that you love doing.
2. Work on your weaknesses
We all have weaknesses—even professional runners! If you’re serious about improving your performance this year, then working on reducing or eliminating your weaknesses is a worthwhile New Year’s resolution for runners.
The best way to target your weaknesses is to create a plan to work on them. You can restructure your whole running routine if you want to, or you can simply tweak your current one to incorporate these plans.
You may need to spend some time considering what your weaknesses are and what you want to work on. If you’d like to increase your speed, then incorporate some speed work training into your weekly schedule.
If you’d like to increase your distance, you can start by adding a mile or two to your daily run. Don’t increase by more than 10% per week, so you can give your body a chance to adjust.
If your running form is your weakness, this could be the year to improve it. It could be worthwhile to get a running coach to help you. If you want to do it yourself, you will need to figure out which aspects of your form you need to correct. You may have to take some video footage of yourself running so you can pinpoint weaknesses in your form.
It could be that your main weakness is getting injured. This year you can focus on injury prevention, which could include warming up and cooling down more effectively and spending more time on recovery. This may include doing rehabilitation exercises or even simple adjustments like using compression gear.
Adding cross-training to your routine could also be an effective way to strengthen supporting muscles. When muscle weaknesses are rectified, you may find that your running improves.
In many cases, diet can be a weakness. Not only can a bad diet ruin the effectiveness of your workout and keep you from getting fit, but not fueling properly for your exercise can make it less effective. Choosing to follow a healthier diet and fuel yourself properly could be a worthwhile change.
3. Beat your PR
What’s your PR? We all have records, whether it be pace, distance, or time during a race. This is a great time to begin working towards beating a current PR.
PRs are best to beat on race day. That way, you have an official record of it and you can work towards beating it again in the next one.
Choose the distance you want to run. Create (or follow) a training plan that’s designed to help you reach your goal. Remember you will need to begin training a few months in advance.
You may need a few shots at beating your PR on race day. Factors like weather, humidity, stomach or immune system problems, or simply not getting enough sleep the night before can affect your performance on the day.
If you don’t hit your PR on the first try, keep trying. If you do, set a new one next time!
4. Run more with people
Running can be a solitary sport. If you’re feeling like you need more company when running, you could have a New Year’s resolution to run more often with others.
The first step may be asking your partner or a friend to join you. If that doesn’t work out, you can join a running club or even join running groups on social media that are based in your area. Here you may be able to find like-minded runners who you can run with.
Running together is a great way to stay accountable. You may find that you’re more consistent with your running and you find it easier to get out of bed for a run when you know that someone is holding you accountable.
5. Sign up for your bucket list race
All runners have a bucket list of races they want to run.
Maybe yours is the Big Sur Marathon, with its spectacular views. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to take part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon experience. Or maybe you’re crazy enough to have an ultra like Western States or Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc on your bucket list!
This could be the year to start working towards it. If you’re already at the required fitness level, then find out the qualifying time and aim for that first. Create a training plan and be disciplined – stick to it.
Once you’re confident that you can do this, make arrangements to take time off and travel if you need to. Then all that’s left is to run it to the best of your ability, and tick it off your bucket list!
6. Win a medal
If you’ve never won a medal, then this is a good goal to set. If you have a medal collection, you can always add a new one to it.
Choose a race that suits your fitness level. If you’re just a casual runner, pick a distance that’s similar to your daily runs. If you’re more advanced, you may want to choose something that challenges you.
You also don’t always need to make the podium to get a medal. The first in each age group to cross the line also wins a medal.
7. Start cross-training
Cross-training is a great way to strengthen muscles that may not get a full workout when you run. It helps to break up the monotony of running by adding another challenging and fun type of exercise to your routine.
Cycling and swimming are common forms of cross-training that combine a good muscle workout with cardiovascular benefits.
But the most important thing is to choose something that you enjoy. You won’t have as much success with any form of cross-training if you aren’t enjoying yourself while doing it.
Some cross-training ideas to consider are rowing, elliptical, jumping rope, HIIT, kickboxing, dancing, strength training, or Crossfit.
8. Be more consistent
Inconsistency is the enemy of progress. If you struggled to stay consistent last year, the New Year is the perfect time to commit to making a change.
It’s natural to fluctuate throughout the year. For example, you might travel for your job or you have a lot of family commitments. A running journal can help you to stay on track more easily.
The first step is to set a running schedule that’s realistic. If you can run three times a week, then aim for that. Maybe one week it will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the next week will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. As long as you run three times every week.
Or you can set a distance per week. Aim for 30 miles, and if you do 10 on Monday and 6 on Tuesday, then you only have to get 14 more miles for the rest of the week. It’s a good idea to choose one goal (frequency, distance, etc) and stick to it.
9. Stretch more or attend yoga classes
Stretching is an important part of fitness, especially for runners. We should be stretching before and after every run to increase blood flow, ease muscle tension and speed up recovery.
This year it may be a good idea to add a stretching routine to your exercise. It may be a whole extra routine on its own, or you could simply commit to stretching before and after every run.
If you prefer something more structured, attending yoga classes could be a good way to get your stretching in and meet new people at the same time.
10. Run farther
If you can’t run more often, you could always challenge yourself and increase your mileage. Start small, by increasing your mileage by 10% for a week. Once your body is used to that, you can increase it by another 10%.
You can set specific goals along the way, like going from 5k to 10k, from 10k to a half-marathon, from half-marathon to marathon or even from a marathon to an ultra-marathon.
Tips for New Year Resolutions
What kind of goals motivate you?
It’s a good idea to choose goals that motivate you and that you enjoy doing. For example, don’t commit to starting Crossfit if you already know that you don’t enjoy going to the gym.
Choose something that you will enjoy. If you find that you’re losing enthusiasm a few months in, you can always make some changes. As an example, if you decided to start cycling as cross-training but you’re not enjoying it, don’t give up cross-training completely. Switch to something else like jump rope or elliptical.
If you have a specific goal in mind, like running the Boston Marathon, creating a vision board so you can constantly remind yourself of what you’re aiming for could help to keep you motivated.
Remember to set realistic goals, and once you’ve reached your goal, set another one!
What could stop you? Create solutions
When setting goals, it’s also a good idea to look at what obstacles could stand in your way. If you can work around these, then you have no excuse or reason not to reach your goals!
If you’re too busy to run, schedule time in your diary. You could invest in a treadmill, so you can run at night or in the early morning. If you struggle to get up or find physical stamina, it would be a good start to adjust your sleeping habits so you get enough rest.
Maybe motivation is your problem. Find someone to keep you accountable or track your progress in a journal to keep you encouraged. If your health is preventing you from reaching your goal, you may need to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. Health always comes first!
In some cases, you may begin to feel that the goal you set is too hard to reach. You can always adjust it down slightly, for example, if your goal is to run a 10k and you’re finding it difficult, aim to run five 5k races instead. That way, you’re building up the strength and stamina to reach the 10k goal. In a way, you’re still working towards it.