Every January first, year in, year out, it’s the same story. You decide on a resolution to start the new year fresh, and by March, you’re back to your old ways. Don’t worry though—you’re not alone. Google the search term “keeping resolutions” and you get 148 million results in less than half a second.
If you’re trying to fool-proof your running resolutions, here are a few tips to keep you on track:
- Set realistic goals. If you’ve never run a mile, maybe the Ironman World Championship isn’t your best place to start. That’s not to say you can’t shoot for the moon, but just remember that the more difficult the resolution, the more likely it is that you’ll quit.
- Be specific. Instead of ambiguously aiming to “run every day,” set a tangible goal. Pick an exact event you want to compete in, find the training plan that suits your needs, and make the specific training schedule your entire goal—not just crossing any random finish line or completing a year of monotony.
- Pack it into your routine. Once you have your specific plan, find a way to factor every day’s small step towards your goal into your schedule. If your goal is to do a triathlon, factor your running, biking, and swimming days into your calendar, and do so in a way that doesn’t unrealistically alter your schedule.
- Enlist support. As with any goal, it’s easier to stay accountable when someone’s relying on you. That’s why it’s important to find a running buddy, join a group or program, and build a community that supports you when you just don’t feel like getting out of bed.
- Put it in writing. Journal your training, print out reminders of your goal and put them in visible places, or even be that Facebook friend that always posts about their progress. If you see visible encouragement outside of your own thoughts, that makes your goals all the more real and specific.
- Be resourceful. Don’t just jump into a new training plan without understanding what it is you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to run a race but have little experience, consult an expert, find the right gear, understand your limitations and be cognizant that it will take time to get used to adjustments in your lifestyle.
- Don’t be upset by setbacks. If you get a flat tire, do you get out of the car and immediately stab the other three tires? Of course not, that would be stupid. Same goes for self-sabotage. Just because you didn’t have time for a run today, or if your long run didn’t go well last weekend, doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. Work past frustrations and remember that even the tiniest bit of progress is better than backsliding.
- Understand that resolutions are not a catch-all, magic bullet. If you want to change your lifestyle or accomplish a new goal, it takes a constant commitment and forming a daily habit over time. Just because you turned a page in the calendar doesn’t mean you’re a different person-- but the upside of that is that a clean slate can happen any time.
When it comes to resolutions, how many times have you toasted January first and proclaimed that “this is the year”? For me, it’s been too many to count, but if you’re realistic, specific, and accountable, then maybe 2014 actually is the year that your resolution sticks! What else are you doing to make sure your goals are reached this year? Any tips you want to add? Let us know on Twitter at @StrideNBC.