Have you set your running goals for next year? The start of a new year is an ideal time to look ahead and plan your running for the next 12 months. It's up to each person to make their own goals, but here are 8 tips to help you to get the most out of yourself this year.
1. Enter a Race
This is an obvious one but there's nothing like a date in your diary and a bit of money forked out on entry fee/travel arrangements to keep you committed to your training. It could be your first race or an attempt to get faster over a distance you've raced many times before.
2. Set a Target
Maybe you ran a Marathon in 4:10 last year, now you can start planning for the sub-4. Maybe you just want to make the club's A-team for a relay. Giving yourself a target to aim for can give a little extra motivation in training, and produce an even bigger smile at the finish line knowing all of your hard training paid off!
3. Try Something New
It's good to have something challenging but also fun. If a road 10k or Marathon doesn't appeal to you, look for something different: a triathlon, a hill race or an ultra-marathon. These are all gaining in popularity and cater for all levels of abilities. If you don't enjoy running races, then try some new running routes and terrains for variety.
4. Think Laterally
Your goal could simply be to add new elements into your training. All runners can benefit from core stability or other strengthening work. If you're curious about barefoot or minimalist running, maybe now is a good time to start incorporating a barefoot session into your training programme. For more tips on this, see our section on barefoot running.
5. Work On Your Weaknesses
Do you always struggle on hills, get overtaken in a sprint finish, or struggle to maintain your pace over the second half of a race? Identify your weak point and work on it in training.
6. It's Not All About You!
Make it your project to encourage someone else to run this year. Running is such an accessible way of keeping fit that the excuses of “No time, don't have the right kit, was hopeless at school cross-country etc” soon run out! Some people just need a little gentle encouragement, and it can be just as fulfilling to see a friend run their first 5k as it was to run your own first race.
7. Be Realistic
When setting running goals, consider what else is going on in your life in terms of work, family and other commitments. Assess how much time you have available for training and set your goals accordingly. Equally, be prepared to re-adjust your goals if things aren't going to plan.
8. Dare to Dream
This might slightly contradict the previous point, but sometimes you just have to think BIG. We all need challenges and there's nothing wrong with setting yourself an ambitious target. It will give you an extra incentive to push harder in training and get the most out of yourself.