The holiday’s are approaching and with it, the inevitable thoughts of reflection on the past year and what the next year will bring. We tend to take stock of our lives and what improvements we want to make in the next year – a fresh start! Resolutions abound. And because we are a running organization, we know A LOT of people resolve to get in shape, lose weight, start running or run more!
Let’s image it is now January and it is cold and dark and you are struggling to stay on track with that resolution. As many gym owners will tell you, attendance drops off by like 75% after the first few weeks in January (I just made that up, but it certainly looks like it based on cars in parking lots). And that is in a nice warm gym – when you have to go outside to run, or head to the “dreadmill” – it gets that much harder to stay on track. (see the running pun there….) The following is a few tips to help you embrace winter running and start a habit.
(One small caveat – I do love winter running. I love the peace and beauty of a new fallen snow. I love the way the crisp air feels in my lungs. I love the way the steam comes off your body when you finish. I would take running in January over the humidity of August any time. You can always get warmed in winter running, you can’t get cooler in summer running. So this post will be a bit biased.)
- Set a hard goal or deadline. You knew this was going to have a race in the post, we are a race organization after all! Might as well list that at the top. But if your goal is to run a 3 miles, or your first half or full marathon, to break 2 hours in the half or qualify for Boston – there is no better carrot on a stick that the hard deadline of that goal race. Once you have that date circled on the calendar, you have made a monetary commitment, the goal is a strong one. You have made a tangible commitment that will end up in a public race result and race photos. If you are thinking about this goal – sign up for the race before you talk yourself out of it. It is amazing how your mindset changes once you commit to that race. And that can lead into tip #2.
2. Find and follow a training plan. Most people think running is SO BORING. I have often heard “all I can think about is how terrible I feel.” Or “Running was my sport’s punishment” – or – “I lose focus and give up too easily.” My advice to you is to find a training plan that works for you. Whether it is running 3 days a week (I used this book to train for Marine Corp Marathon and loved it.) and cross-training 3 days, or Couch to 5k, or Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk method – find something that speaks to you and your schedule. Once your run has a point to it, or a goal even if it is just a daily run – it gives that run a purpose and a reason to get out the door – rather than just how badly you are feeling or distracted. If your plan calls for a one mile warm up, followed by 2 miles at a 9 min pace with a one mile cool down – now you have something to think about and a purpose to it. It will help keep you focused and goal-oriented, rather than all willy-nilly in your running.
3. Sign up for a “challenge.” Let’s say a race isn’t your forte – which is fine. Whether it is because you aren’t comfortable in crowds or don’t want to spend the money or can’t make one work with your calendar, or are just hesitant to jump in the pool that deep – there are other ways to challenge yourself and keep you on focused. While they have been around for a while, COVID has certainly helped bring “non-traditional” running events to the forefront. You can sign up for a running event or personally commit to a challenge and have some purpose to your run – either privately or publicly. You can commit to a minimum one mile run every day in January. You can commit to running 10 miles each week. Whatever it might be – challenge yourself, right it down and keep track of how you are progressing in that challenge. We offer 3 challenges in January, February and March to help you stay on track with your resolution but there is a wealth of challenges online (the Run Every Street challenge is one that I am hoping to do) that will help you keep up the habit. Which leads to our next tip…..
4. Use some technology to help you stay on track. I love running and technology and when they come together to help me be a better runner – doesn’t get any better than that. Whether you are looking for some accountability either privately or publicly, there are some great apps and hardware to help you keep that resolution. They say that a habit is formed in 3 weeks and the Streaks app helps you achieve that habit. I will say that I am an Apple Watch user and I strive to close those stupid rings every day – even if I am on the only one that sees them. I once went on a 365+ streak of closing all 3 rings and that was a real challenge! Other great apps include the Tempo app which is a great running calendar with all sorts of metrics, I LOVE the Strava app for accountability but the Nike Run Club is also a good one as well. One other piece of technology that is fun is listening to a podcast while running. You tend to get lost in the conversation and find something else to focus on. The Rambling Runner is one of my favorites as you hear inspiring stories of every day runners who are having the same challenges you are. And he is local to RI!
5. Retail Therapy! If you are going to commit to running in the New Year, get the gear to help you achieve those goals. A great watch, some safety and visibility gear (check out our friends at Rhode Runner) and some warm weather clothes are key to ensuring you have a good experience and are successful. We have some great hats and gloves on our website, but a gaiter during the winter months is also helpful, and runners made them cool long before COVID. You can give yourself a reward for achieving certain running milestones with some sweet new swag!
6. And the biggest advice I can give you – Solicit a friend to run with you or join a running group. There have been so many times that I didn’t think I could fit a run in my day, or just didn’t have the desire to go out and get it done and my Best Running Friend would call and we would make it work. I never regretted going, I only regretted missing it. When you are with like-minded individuals, you will find reasons to keep up the habit, connect with a new social group, be surrounded by positive reinforcement and make some lifelong connections. There is something about running together that is often confessional. Having another individual or individuals holding you accountable will ensure you stay running. Some great local groups include the Rhode Island Road Runners, November Project (Providence and Newport), Run and Chug in Newport, Gannsett Run in Providence, Narragansett Running Club and Rhode Runner Run Club – and this is just a small list of great running groups in RI. These running groups are incredibly welcoming and have a wide variety of pace and experience.
Commit to your resolution with our Hangover Classic and kick off the year on the right foot. We will be here to support you the rest of the year too! Let us know your running resolutions in the comments below and we will cheer you on!