If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, you know they’re easy to make and hard to keep, especially if you’ve been drinking when that brilliant idea hits you. Resolutions to change don’t only happen at the new year, though. In fact, by committing to training for the 2019 Williams Route 66 Marathon, you’ve just made a resolution of sorts yourself! It can be a challenge to stick with your training and create healthy habits when life gets in the way, but it is possible. With the tips below, this might just be the year you achieve your goals!
1. Make your resolution generic: While it might not seem to make sense at first, making a generic resolution, like “get stronger at running hills” or “run a fall marathon,” can help set you up for more success than one that is extremely specific, such as “run six days per week.” If you’ve been running for more than a week, you know that this sport has a lot of ups and downs. Every longtime runner has struggled with injury, burnout, and life getting in the way of training, so by setting generic goals, you give yourself more opportunities to succeed. That way, you’ll stay motivated and prevent that feeling of complete failure if you miss your first goal race or can’t make it out to one of your new 6-times-weekly runs.
2. …but set specific short term goals: With that being said, sometimes we do have specific goals, like PRing a big race. Consider pairing your generic resolution with specific short term goals to achieve success. For example, a resolution to “get stronger at running hills” could be accompanied by the creation of a monthly or weekly training schedule with specific hill workouts, or you could find one hill in your neighborhood that you want to get faster at climbing each week. By keeping your sights set on the next workout, you’ll keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by the amount of work to do. Then, it will feel possible to run just 20 seconds faster than last week or get through one last training run!
3. Learn to differentiate between excuses and reasons: While there are definitely chronic quitters out there who will look for every possible excuse not to finish their workout or run as hard as possible, others never allow themselves to quit, even when continuing is detrimental. The key is to find a balance between those two mentalities. Life happens – sometimes we’re injured, or working crazy hours to meet a work deadline, or our kids need our help with a last-minute homework assignment and we just can’t squeeze in a run that day. When you find yourself considering not doing a scheduled workout, first ask yourself “What would I think if my best friend told me they couldn’t run (or do speedwork or whatever) for this reason?” If you’d think it was a legitimate reason for them, it’s probably a legitimate reason for you, too. If not, get your shoes on and get out the door!
4. Rely on discipline rather than motivation: Many people believe that living an active lifestyle or training for a marathon is something that only happens when you’re motivated, but setting and achieving a long term goal takes more than motivation. Motivation gets you out the door at first, but it won’t help you at 5 am when you’ve been up all night with the baby and are tempted to hit the snooze button. That’s where discipline comes in. Creating strong habits, avoiding excuses (but allowing for legitimate reasons) and using strong time management skills will foster discipline and set you up for success. Eventually, there won’t be any question whether you’re going to do your workout or not. So next time you find yourself thinking “I’m just not motivated enough to work out,” say “I’m just not disciplined enough to work out” and see if that doesn’t inspire you to get moving!
5. Set yourself up for success: It seems like an oversimplification, but much of the important work in running happens before you ever get out the door. To set yourself up for success, plan ahead. If you’re a morning runner, lay your running clothes out the night before, buy an automatic coffee maker, and make your lunch for work the night before. If you take obstacles out of your own way before you’re too tired or stressed out to do so, you have one less hurdle to clear. Run after work? Make sure your bag is already packed and in the car the night before so there’s no chance of forgetting it and you can quickly change at the office and hit the road – no time to get tempted to sit on the couch! It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – take care of your body, too! Eat foods that make you feel strong and powerful, and stay well hydrated. The better you feel, the better you’ll run, and the better you run, the more you’ll want to take great care of yourself. That’s a resolution worth keeping!