Happy 2017. For many of us the New Year brings ambitious goals both personally and professionally, and the opportunity for a fresh start. As we all strive for a happy and healthy 2017, fitness goals take a starring role. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a runner or not, each of us has the ability to get out and move, and take those initial steps to a healthier lifestyle.
I am a runner. I’ve participated in races ranging from 5ks to 100 mile ultramarathons, and everything in between. I even ran a half marathon wearing lederhosen. These experiences have taught me that nothing holds me more accountable to my fitness goals than registering for a race. And by race, I mean an organized running event – race, run, trail run, walk – they all count. If you’re a cyclist, rides work too. The same principles apply.
For me, motivation to run comes from many different places. Whether it’s the opportunity to explore new terrain, wrestle with a problem or relieve stress, that motivation changes day to day and run to run. However, the simple act of signing up for a race, and making the commitment to get to the START line, does more to get me out the door than anything else. Try it. You’ll see.
Where to start? Pick a race. As I mentioned, races range from 5k fun runs to 100 mile ultramarathons, and everything in between. In my experience, local running stores are great resources for race calendars in your area. Many cities have local running clubs as well, each of which likely host events consistently throughout the year. Runner’s World Race Finder online search tool can also provide information about upcoming races.
But how to choose a race that’s right for you? The question I ask myself is, “how do I set myself up for success?” And for me, success is choosing a race that yes, tests my limits, but more importantly allows me to enjoy not only crossing the finish line, but also the process of getting there.
We all start our training putting one foot in front of the other. If you enjoy the process, you’re much more likely to shift fitness from something you feel obligated to do, into something that you want to do, because ultimately, the training contributes to making you feel like your best self.
Be sure to choose a time horizon that gives you ample opportunity to train, but also puts you under pressure. A quick search online for distance-specific training plans will give you a good idea of the time it will take you to amply prepare for a race. The pressure of an upcoming race keeps me motivated to train. I also look forward to race day and the culmination of the effort put in to get there. And of course, the celebration of those efforts upon crossing the finish line!
Finally, share your goal to participate in a race with others. This simple act also amplifies accountability. And who knows, you might just inspire someone else to join you.
Good luck as you pursue your fitness goals in 2017. I encourage each of you to get to the START line in the coming year. Pick a race that sets you up to succeed – start slow, enjoy the process, include others and celebrate. Lederhosen optional.