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New Year, New Goals

 As runners, each New Year we tend to set goals for the upcoming year. Goal setting is a great way to stay motivated and keep you training with a clear plan in mind.  Before jumping into new goals, the New Year is also a good time to look back and reflect on the previous year.  This may be mostly about your running, but it’s also important to reflect on all aspects of your health as well.  It’s not just miles that make your running successful, there are many other components that contribute to being a healthy, successful runner.  Let’s take a look at a few areas to reflect on and how to make goals for each.

We’ll start with your overall mileage – how many miles did you run last year?  If you’re looking to become a better runner or maybe train for a marathon or half marathon, you probably want to run more total miles this year than last. Keep in mind, you don’t want to increase too much, too quickly.  A 10% increase in your total mileage is a very realistic goal.  Setting goals too high could lead to overtraining and actually hurt your running in the long run or lead to injuries.  Some people perform better on less mileage, so you may want to look at your total mileage in years past and compare it to this year. This data can help you decide if higher mileage actually helps you or tends to lead to injuries.

Next, let’s look at your racing.  I usually make a list of every race I ran last year and decide which races I definitely want to do again, which ones I don’t care to do, and a list of ones I might want to do again depending on my schedule.  Then, I make a separate list of races I would like to do that I haven’t done before.  You probably will have to make some tough decisions deciding between the maybes and the new races you would like to do. You’ll also want to remember to keep a good balance so you don’t end up racing too much.  Racing is a great way to test your fitness, meet new people, and experience something new.  Racing too much can take away from the excitement, hinder your overall training, and it can get pretty expensive. Each year,  I always try to run at least one bigger race that I’ve never done before for great memories and experience.

Now let’s reflect on some of the other aspects of your fitness.  How much did you strength train last year?  Most runners aren’t doing enough, and it’s a good idea to set a goal of doing more of it. Regular strength training is a great way to prevent injuries and make you a stronger runner overall.  You don’t have to become a bodybuilder, but consistently strength training a few times a week is a great goal.  The same can be said about stretching – most runners tend to have tighter muscles, so stretching for even just a few minutes after each run is also a great goal. 

Last but not least is sleep.  I know I can’t be alone in thinking most of us probably don’t sleep quite as much as we would like.  As difficult as it is, making a goal of just sleeping a little more this year will go a long way in not just improving your running, but your overall health as well.

Overall, remember to set goals that help you enjoy your new year and new goals. Setting goals to challenge yourself, but that are also realistic is the best way to achieve the results you want, while keeping you happy and healthy along the way.

About the author: A.J. is the Store Manager at AppRunCo – Altoona. He lives in Altoona and has been a competitive runner for over 20 years.