Once you become a regular runner, there’s no turning back — but that doesn't mean there aren't a few New Year's resolutions runners can make to improve. When you haven’t gone running in a while, you just don’t feel like yourself. You might even become an irritable grump in your cardio-deprived state — especially if you’re waiting out an annoying injury. I know this because I started running as a scrawny middle school kid on the cross-country team, and to this day something feels a bit off when I haven’t jogged in a few days. But if you’ve been running for years, it’s also easy to get bored and lose motivation (sometimes just the thought of doing my same old neighborhood route keeps me from lacing up my running shoes). That’s why you should make some New Year’s running goals to spice things up again.
Running should be a fun stress-reliever… because if it’s something you dread, why do it? Yes, it’s great exercise, but there are plenty of other activities you could try that you might enjoy more. Deep down, every dedicated jogger truly loves running. So if it’s become stale for you, try making these 11 simple New Year’s resolutions. They'll make you a better runner, and they might just remind you why you started running in the first place.
1. Sign up for that race you've always wanted to do.
Maybe you're stuck in a 5K rut and want to try a 10K, or maybe you're a half marathoner who wants to go for the full 26.2. Whatever distance you've been scared to run... go for it! Paying the race fee and having a date to work toward will motivate you to start training, and just think about the sense of accomplishment you'll feel when you cross that finish line.
2. Find the perfect running buddy.
Friends are your biggest cheerleaders. There's nothing better than finding a running partner who goes at your pace and pushes you at the same time. Or maybe this runner could actually smoke you in a race, but he or she makes a great coach... whatever works!
3. Start strength training.
A lot of runners have super strong legs but weak arms. For the longest time my motivation to gain upper body strength was very meh. But even semi-regular training — with dumbbells or just your own body weight — can boost your all-around strength and improve your race times. Try it out and see.
4. Listen to your body.
If your hip hurts like hell or your knee aches regularly during your runs, give yourself a break. Even if you're training for a race, it's not worth hurting yourself. Get some R&R, then hit the sidewalk again in a few days.
5. Splurge on a piece of running gear that makes you happy.
Whether it's a fancy pair of running shoes or a nice year-round windbreaker, the right running clothes can make you feel more confident. You may be sweating like a pig, but you can still look hella cute doing it.
6. Fuel yourself properly.
To quote my high school cross-country coach, "Garbage in = garbage out." Want to run better? Eat better. You don't have to be a total health freak, but having a more nutritious diet will probably alleviate stomach cramps (there's nothing worse than a bathroom break mid-run) and give you more energy.
7. Do more yoga.
If you're a runner and you don't have tight hips and hamstrings, you're a magical unicorn. But if you're like me, adding some yoga to your weekly routine will make you more flexible... and hopefully more zen, too.
8. Discover new running routes.
Switch things up! Drive somewhere new to run, or try a different route in your own neighborhood.
9. Run on vacation.
Pack your running shoes with you wherever you travel. If you have time to go for a quick jog, you'll have fun exploring your new surroundings. Whether you're in a city or at the beach, the change of scenery is totally worth it.
10. Let loose and run a fun race.
Not every race has to be serious. Try a color run, obstacle race, or beer 5K with some friends.
11. Set a PR.
In runner speak, that's a personal record. Find a training plan and stick with it... and if you keep the rest of these resolutions, you'll have fun along the way. Good luck!