“Get faster” is the “lose weight” of running resolutions — am I wrong?
If you want to use the start of 2022 as motivation to PR your next race, that’s amazing. But for many of us, it’s unrealistic.
It’s a resolution without a plan that is often too generic to actually accomplish, and will only lead to disappointment and frustration.
Plus, if you actually get faster but don’t qualify for Boston or PR on race day, your entire process and effort can feel meaningless, even if you’ve made solid improvements and have demonstrated growth.
That’s why I’m challenging you to choose a different running resolution this year.
Here are 10 New Year’s running resolutions that have nothing to do with your pace.
1. Tackle A New Distance
While running a marathon will always be impressive, 2022 could be the year you bust out of your marathon rut and try a new or unfamiliar distance. The pros? You’ll PR instantly, for one. You’ll switch up your training regime. And you’ll challenge your body to do something new and different! For me, my “new” distance will be the 10k. Even though it’s not completely new, it’s definitely unfamiliar and I’m excited to see how it goes.
2. Strive To Be More Consistent
I train a lot of athletes where the potential for major running improvements is right there — if only they could be more consistent with their training. By more consistent, I mean actually sticking to a training schedule, or saying you’ll run three days a week and actually doing so. It means planning for the unexpected, setting a reasonable goal for days of running per week, and ditching the excuses.
3. Take On A New Vert
For the “extreme” types reading this list, why not make it your mission to get more VERT this year? This could involve signing up for a race with a ton of vert (hello, Double Dipsea, Red Bull 400 and Loon Mountain Race) or creating a weekly or monthly vert goal. This takes the pressure off speed, but will really help you build your power in 2022.
4. Commit To A Weekly, Monthly or Yearly Mileage Goal
On Christmas, my uncle (a cyclist) told me he was less than 50 miles away from completing his 4k mileage goal, which he could easily accomplish with 1 or 2 more rides before December 31st. I was proud (and also envious)! Having a yearly mileage goal is something you can work on all year and slowly chip away at. For individuals with shorter attention spans, weekly or monthly mileage goals are great way to challenge yourself and stay consistent, too.
5. Try A Run Streak
A run streak is not for everyone, and I definitely understand the power of the rest day. But for some individuals looking to improve consistency and up their mileage, a run streak could be a great way to kick off the New Year. You don’t have to hold it for a crazy amount of time, but even just kicking off January 2022 with 31 days of running is a feat within itself!
6. Strength Train More
This is a goal that all runners can (and should) get behind — myself included. Running requires a ton of work from multiple muscles and muscle groups, and if you have any significant weaknesses, I can guarantee it will eventually amount to some type of injury. Visiting a direct-access physical therapist to help identify strength deficits is a great way to start. They can then help you with exercises and a training plan to get you back on track and prevent injuries before they begin!
7. ‘Just Show Up’ To That Running Group You’ve Been Watching on Instagram
Joining a regular running group can do a ton for your running consistency, motivation, and your morale. Not only is it great to be in a group of like-minded individuals chasing their goals, it’s also helpful to find other runners who you can chase or challenge during workouts so you both get stronger. You’ll likely find some new training buddies, and hopefully some new friends.
8. Challenge Yourself To More Speed Workouts
While this goal may result in getting faster, it’s more about the process of actually finding, committing to, and performing speed workouts than the endgame. This may require a little bit of research and planning, including finding a track, running path or treadmill access, but the juice is definitely worth the squeeze.
9. Improve Your VO2 Max
VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during exercise. Basically, the higher your VO2 max, the more physically fit you are. This resolution may not be accessible for everyone, but if you have access to the equipment, it’s a great way to challenge yourself and improve your aerobic capacity. You can also estimate your VO2 max using your heart rate with the Rockport Walking Test or Single-Stage Submaximal Treadmill Exercise Test.
(Fun story: This year in my Exercise Physiology class, my professor offered $100 to anyone who could score over 60 on the Vo2 Max test. I scored a 58.9 — and was SO exhausted (and frustrated to have missed it!). So obviously I have been running hill repeats on the treadmill at the gym every week since!)
10. Try Mindful Running
Again, this resolution isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great way to get back in touch with your love of running as well as to clear your mind on the go. You can practice mindful running by ditching your watch or covering it up during a run and not paying attention to the numbers, by choosing a meditation you can listen to on a treadmill run, or by simply choosing a theme for your run and choosing to proactively think about it along your route. There’s no wrong way to do this.
Running is different for everyone, so whatever your goals for the new year are, be proud of them and don’t compare yourself too harshly to others.
Cheers to a great year of running in 2022!