Staff Blog: Think Small

Another New Year’s Day has come and gone and soon along with it many of the massive resolutions that were made in the past week will go away too. I’m not trying to be cynical, but let’s be real: big resolutions are rarely sustainable, if they were even reasonable in the first place.

In addition to (or even instead of) making a huge running-related resolution in this first week of the new year — like becoming a Boston Marathon qualifier, losing 20 pounds or dropping 5 minutes from your 10K time — I encourage you to make a commitment to doing something small on a consistent basis. This something — related to your running, of course — can be anything, or ideally a number of things, so long as it’s a realistic and easily achievable objective.

The three key words here are consistent and easily achievable. If something is so easy to achieve, you might be wondering, then why even bother with it in the first place? Fair question, but that’s EXACTLY why you bother with it. The old saying goes that if you do something enough times, it becomes a habit. The main goal here is to create good habits.

To be clear, I’m not trying to discourage you from setting big goals or taking on a daunting challenge over the next 12 months, but rather offering a strategy that will help put you in a better position to achieve those things. In the first week of January, many people, including a lot of runners, dream up these huge, finite goals for the year ahead. “Boston or bust!” your training partner might say, as if anything short of a BQ would equate to a failed resolution.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Training is a process, one that is continually building upon itself. In the process of going after big goals, however, many runners lose sight of the process itself. The only thing on their radar is the end result.

In training to go after your big race goal this year, set small yet attainable objectives — often called process goals — directly related to your training. If you commit to doing these things consistently enough, in addition to putting in the miles and hitting the hard workouts, you will benefit in a big way.

I’m not letting myself off the hook, and neither should you. Here are some of my own running-related process goals for the upcoming year:

— I’m going to commit to at least 10 minutes of supplementary strength training, active stretching and form work six days per week.

— I am committing to run on soft surfaces at least once a week.

— I’m making a commitment to do strides at least twice a week after easy runs.

— I am committed to making healthier food choices when I go out to eat.

— I’m committed to keeping a positive attitude when a race or workout isn’t going my way.

— I’m committed to going to bed earlier at night. Lights out before the clock strikes 12.

These are not huge commitments! In fact, many of them won’t take any extra time or effort on my part. The key is making the commitment, honoring it consistently and developing good habits that will have a positive effect on your running. The more good habits you can develop, the more effective your training will be, and the better prepared you’ll be to achieve the bigger goals you’ve set out for yourself.

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