Build a Plan to Cross Any Finish Line
By Lauren Milner, MS, CSCS
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Not referring to the holidays, friends! I’m talking about January, aka resolution season! With a swipe of our magic wands, we flip the calendar to a new year and hit the refresh button on our personal fitness promises. We’re going to eat nothing but vegetables and never skip a run or workout this entire year!
Please forgive the sarcasm. I’ve been working as a fitness professional for a long time and I have to admit, I have seen more resolutions fail than succeed. Studies have shown in fact, that an overwhelming majority of New Year’s fitness resolutions will crash and burn by the end of February. Thankfully I have also seen many people achieve long lasting success. Here are some of the top concepts utilized by successful goal setters.
The top priority is your running goal mindset. Great running is a process, not a destination. Many people who fail to achieve goals cite “lack of willpower” as the reason but research shows that the real reason is the lack of a realistic long term plan. For runners, the plan should be rooted in setting great process goals in addition to the destination goal.
An example of a running destination goal is “I’m going to run a sub-4 hour marathon in October” or maybe, “I’m going to do my first half marathon in June.” These are great goals. Nothing wrong with setting goals like this, but it’s the setting of the daily and weekly process goals that form the habits to keep running long after your willpower fails.
The process goals therefore, are like the building blocks that take you from today to your goal. In addition to saying, “I’m going to do my first half marathon this year,” you should also say, “I’m going to block my schedule off 3 times a week for a run,” or “make it a priority to follow my half marathon training plan each week.” These are more important than destination goals because a process goal sets a proper mindset and helps you tackle that huge goal one step, one mile, at a time.
Make it Meaningful
Another great success secret is to make your goal personal. Why do you want to be a better runner this year? Take a few minutes and think long and hard about this question. The more meaning and purpose you can attach to your answer, the better. Maybe it’s because you want to improve your health. Or cross a particular race off your bucket list. No matter what your reason for running better this year, try to attach meaning and purpose to your vision for achieving your goals! It will help you get out of bed and get those miles in when you’d rather hit the snooze button!
Join a Team
The last great tip is to find a run buddy or club. You can meet some really incredible people in a run club and make lifelong friendships. While it’s important to have a personal focus on your goals, you will quite simply be more successful if you don’t try to go it alone. Having a run buddy or even an entire club like UKRunChat behind you will help you stay accountable, share tips for overcoming challenges, and make the training more enjoyable, especially at the “post-race” parties!
So here’s the final run down; please don’t become another failed resolution statistic this year! Don’t go for all or nothing! Focus on the process. One run at a time. One week at a time. Make a realistic plan and make it personally meaningful. Grab a friend, or 10, or 100, and sign up for some races throughout the year and share the joy (and glorious pain!) of running with your buddies! Last but not least, remember that willpower always fades but a solid structured plan endures. Happy trails and happy new year!