If you’re like many runners, you probably lined up a litany of running resolutions for the new year. Maybe you resolved to get faster. Maybe you resolved to run farther.
Whatever you resolved to do, there’s data that suggests folks tend to struggle with their new year’s resolutions only a couple weeks into the new year. If you’re still going strong with your running resolutions, I commend you.
But, if you’re struggling, I get it. There are so many challenges this time of year that make sticking to running resolutions tough. It’s not easy to stick to your guns.
If your running resolutions are going off the rails, I’ve got a few ideas for how you can get back on track. I’m not claiming it will be easy. But, then again neither is running!
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people
Legendary coach Bill Bowerman said it best: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” I lived in Kansas when I first got into running. Summers were brutally hot and humid. Winters were bleak, cold, depressing affairs.
It often felt like it was a rarity when the weather was decent. Most of the time, I was either freezing or sweating my ass off. Kansas weather was legitimately bad most of the time.
But, I was fortunate to learn early in my running career that enduring bad weather was simply part of the deal. Races (typically) don’t get canceled due to inclement weather. So, you simply must soldier on.
If it’s raining, get a water resistant slicker and a hat. If it’s cold, throw on an extra layer or two. If it’s wicked hot, remove a layer or two. There are ways to manage most weather situations.
This being said, if you’re neck deep in a polar vortex or some other kind of hazardous/dangerous weather, opt for the treadmill. There’s nothing soft about staying safe (and alive)!
Get some skin in the game
Between the inclement weather and shorter days winter brings, it’s understandable why your motivation might be flagging. In my experience, there’s one sure-fire way to kickstart motivation to run — sign up for a race.
Register up for a 5K. Pull the trigger on a 10K. Get a race (or two) on your calendar.
There’s something about clicking the registration button and spending a little cash that has a tendency to catalyze commitment. Suddenly, nasty weather isn’t quite so nasty. The daunting long run you were thinking about skipping becomes mandatory.
When I work with individual clients, I pretty much require them to sign up for a race. In my experience, it’s one of the best ways to stay committed to one’s training. Get some skin in the game and it’s likely you’ll find the motivation to run.
The days are shorter. The nights are longer. The window of opportunity to get a run in during the day is simply smaller early in the year.
But, running at night has benefits. There’s evidence indicating it can help you sleep better. Nighttime running can also help you run faster.
Logging miles at night requires just a few simple tweaks. Grab a headlamp. Get a reflective vest.
If safety is a concern, grab a few running buddies to log your night miles with you. Running is almost always better with company anyway.
If logging the miles in the evening simply isn’t a viable option, don’t abandon all hope. Try leveraging your lunch hour. Between changing, running, and cleaning up afterwards you might not be able to get in as many miles as you’d like. But, even a few miles of running is better than not lacing up at all.
Find a club, posse, or crew
If you didn’t know it, running is one of the most taxing things you can do. The act burns calories more expediently than just about anything else out there. Running is simply TOUGH.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I never would have become a runner had I not been part of a team when I first got into it. I couldn’t have managed the fatigue on my own. I would have surrendered without the help of others.
It was my team that put wind in my sails. My teammates assured me it would get easier. They made me believe I would survive. I am a runner today because of them.
While running is an individual sport, it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to go it alone. There are countless running clubs, crews, and posses out there.
Finding a community to run with makes the miles easier. It also makes it tougher to skip a run when you know there are people expecting you to show up. The power of casual accountability is real.
Additionally, it’s entirely possible you could make a gaggle of awesome new friends. You may even stumble into a running infused romance. I’ve seen both happen many times.
And hey, if you’re in San Francisco, I lead the charge for a Run Club that may be just what you need!
Running is a sport that rewards patience. I vividly recall the first two weeks of training with my high school cross country team. Every run those first two weeks was a death march.
Only after a few weeks of consistent training did things start to change. The fatigue began to dissipate. The soreness waned.
My body began to evolve. It became better equipped to deal with the physical demands of running. Had I not been patient enough to endure those first couple weeks, I likely never would have become a runner.
If you’re frustrated because you resolved to get into a regular running routine and it’s not coming to you easily, take a deep breath. Slowly exhale. Be patient.
It takes at least two to three weeks of regular, consistent running before it starts to get easier. Running may even become fun. Be patient and you will eventually be rewarded.
Want to hear more from Marathon Matt? Find out more about his coaching and running experience at www.marathonmatt.com!