It’s early February and having started the year in attack mode, the demons are now at play. You fight hard in an attempt to stay on track but ultimately you know the battle is lost. Another year, another failed New Year’s resolution.
We’ve all been there, right? 2017, however, can be different. Read these 15 tips from running royalty and training titans to ensure you stick to your goals.
1. Take up streaking
While taking a nude run can be a liberating experience, this isn’t the type of streaking I’m talking about! See the New Year as a clean sheet and the perfect time to set a simple challenge – to run everyday and continue this ‘streak’ for as long as possible. On days when you lack training motivation, having this goal will give you a little nudge to get out and run. Set streak rules from the start. I suggest a minimum distance of 3km, which can still comfortably be achieved on ‘rest’ days. Even when I’m travelling, I’ve been known to jog around the airport terminal for the sake of the streak!
– Brendan Davies, Australian international ultra runner and coach
2. Write it down
Every Sunday make sure you set a realistic schedule for the week ahead. Don’t just keep it in your head though. Save it in the calendar on your phone or write it on the kitchen white board. Attention to detail is important too. Don’t just say you’ll work out three times in the coming week. If you do that you’ll only end up working out once or twice. Write it down and include details. This way you’re more likely to stick to it.
– Anna Tunnicliffe, US Olympic gold medalist (sailing) and 2x top-10 finisher at CrossFit Games
3. Sign up for a race
Gain added motivation by signing up for a race that challenges you in a new way (such as trails for road runners, or roads for trail runners). Make sure the race is before May. That way you are focused from January, rather than putting it off like you might for a summer race. I took this to the extreme last year and scheduled in a road marathon for January 3rd. It meant I was working on my speed and fitness even before the New Year started. It also helped me skip that second slice of pie at holiday functions! I not only set a new personal record time in the race but also used it as a platform to raise my game for all of 2017.
– Scott Dunlap, renowned US ultra runner and blogger
4. Seal the deal
Break down your 2017 goals and targets month by month. Write them all down and put each one in a sealed envelope with the month on the front. Once sealed, try to forget about the specifics of your targets. Instead just enjoy your training and racing. At the end of every month open the corresponding envelope and see how close you came.
– Dave Archer, top UK marathon runner now obsessed with trails
5. Make it personal
Find a higher purpose for your goal. It can’t just be, ‘I want to look good so I’ll go on a diet from January 1st.’ It needs to be more like, ‘I want to loose 10 pounds to lower my risk of heart disease so I can live another 10 years and be here for my family.’ I make my goals measurable and achievable, while adding the personal reason also ensures I hold myself accountable.
– Wes Piatt, owner and coach at Coast Range CrossFit, US
6. Book a holiday
An active holiday with friends can be the perfect training opportunity. Whether you opt for altitude and big climbs in sunny mountains abroad (like in the ROCLITE film below), or a staged approach to a long distance route closer to home, you’ll have a brilliant time. This will set you up perfectly for whatever challenges you have in mind for the rest of the year.
– Jasmin Paris, 2016 Extreme Skyrunning Series world champion
7. Scare yourself
Sign up for something that scares you. Not something that just intimidates you – aiming to go slightly faster at your favourite local race won’t cut it. This has to be something that makes you want to involuntarily jump behind the sofa, grab a teddy, stick a thumb in your mouth and start whimpering. Straight afterwards – and it must be straight away – tell all your pals. There’s no backing out now. You’ve bullied yourself into getting fitter than ever. If still scared, distract yourself by ogling all the new kit you’ll need to buy for your scary challenge.
– Damian Hall, UK outdoor journalist tuned elite ultra runner
8. Make it visual
I’m a visual type of person and having reminders of my goals really helps in achieving them. I like to put pen to paper and hang notes, maps of race routes or upcoming challenges and elevation profiles in places where I will see them regularly. One of those is on the mirror in the bathroom, so every morning I’m reminded of my goals and can visualize them.
– Yassine Diboun, set the fastest known time for a supported run of the 453-mile Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail
9. It’s a long year – so pace it!
Ultra running is all about pacing yourself and so I always ask, ‘Am I enjoying it?’ If the answer is yes, then the pace is good. If the answer is no, then I drop the pace a bit. Using this mantra, I let people go off ahead of me at the beginning of a race, but then catch them later when they implode. It’s the same with New Year goals – you have to pace them. Don’t bolt out from the gate too hard in January and risk imploding by February.
– Marco Consani, Scotland-based 24-hour and ultra running guru
10. Get a reliable training partner
This will increase your motivation, allow you to learn and also make training fun. There’s nothing worse than slogging your way through a long workout alone. You want someone you can beat and keep up with. Having a training partner will give you motivation to train harder but also help get you to the gym in the first place. No one wants to let that someone down by not showing up. Getting a training partner with similar goals and expectations will ensure you’re both singing from the same hymn sheet and gains are kept to a maximum.
– Joe Taylor, ex-semi pro rugby player and training blogger in the UK
11. Make it a January resolution
Instead of making a New Year’s resolution I make a January resolution. Some might say that’s cheating, but committing to something for a month is much easier than a whole year and it’s more motivating too. Last year I gave up sugar for a month and vowed to run up and down my local hill (Dufton Pike) 31 times (one for every day in January). I worked away from home for more than half the month, so had to run it several times on some days!
– Morgan Donnelly, former British fell running champion
12. Keep it simple and reward yourself
It can be all too easy to set yourself loads of massive targets in the New Year, but don’t get carried away. One resolution kept is worth more than ten that fall by the wayside. Hone in on just a handful of goals that you really want to achieve and that give you a buzz when you think about them. Promise yourself rewards if you achieve them (a head massage, a new jacket, a meal in your favourite restaurant).
– Anna Lupton, Great Britain trail running international
13. Dare to go public
Make a resolution and then go public with your promise. Tell as many people as possible, announce it on social media (in between posting images of your shoes and log all your sessions online. That way you’ll be under more pressure to deliver the goods and it will motivate you to get out and run.
– Ben Mounsey, elite UK-based trail, fell and mountain runner
14. Keep an inspirational journal
Create a journal and fill it with your goals for the year and some inspirational quotes. As you progress throughout the year add photos, write about your adventures and collect things that help build a story. When motivation dwindles (and it will) open your journal and read back through the pages. This will remind you why you started and allow you to see how far you have come. Suitably reinvigorated, look at the next chapter of your story, lace up your shoes and get out there to complete your journey.
– Mary Wilkinson, winner of 10 Great Britain mountain running vests
15. Don’t put it off!
So, you’ve made your resolution and now it’s New Year’s evening and the party is cracking! It’s ten to midnight and that girl in the corner has possibly/probably/definitely been giving you the eye all evening. Before you know it, it’s 4 in the morning, you’re one G&T down too many, and the girl has disappeared with the manly but sensitive tree surgeon. Such is life. Next morning, the cold light of 2017 beckons, and so does your resolution. But you had a heavy night, and it can wait another day. It won’t hurt, right? No one will think any less of you. It’s not that big a deal, there’s 364 other days to go training… Wrong! If you start off as wet as lettuce, that’s setting the precedent for the rest of your year. Get that pint of coffee down you and get out the door. Stay strong mentally and give yourself no options. The New Year is here, and you’re going to show that girl who likes tree surgeons what she’s missing….
– Rhys Findlay-Robinson, 2016 British fell running champion