Elite Runners Share Their Best (and Worst) Resolutions

Molly Hurford
by Molly Hurford
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Even elite runners struggle when it comes to figuring out the perfect balance between a reach goal that promotes healthy behavior and boosts their running, and an impossible-to-achieve goal that leaves them down in the dumps as the season wears on. We asked a few of the pros to share their most- and least-successful resolutions made over the years, hoping to use some of their ups and downs to help you create the right resolution for your running in 2019.

“I have a tendency to want to do everything in my power to be a better athlete all the time, but sometimes that just means letting your body rest.”
Sarah Cotton

Why it’s Great: For an athlete, like Cotton, who’s dealt with a rough season marred by injuries, rest and recovery become even more important. Even for an uninjured runner, recovering enough after hard efforts or between long running streaks can be challenging. It’s tempting to do a slightly longer or harder recovery run or skip a rest day, but those days off are when your body has a chance to get stronger.

“I’ve learned that it’s never good — for me, at least — to make things so black and white.”
— Cotton

What to do Instead: “It’s all about balance, and sometimes when you tell yourself you can’t have something, ever, it just causes stress and anxiety,” Cotton says. Now, she doesn’t make resolutions that cut anything out, she’s learned to embrace moderation in her eating — and she’s found a balanced approach is ultimately the healthiest approach.

Why it’s Great: Nice and simple — this resolution is more of a motivational statement than an actual plan, but that’s all you need to prompt good decision making.

What to do Instead: Ask whether your resolutions align with each other. For Reed, getting a motorcycle might take away from time spent working on getting faster and running more miles than he did last year. It’s easy to accidentally set up competing goals: A restrictive diet on top of a resolution to increase training hours, for instance, can leave you feeling under-nourished and over-stressed. A desire to PR in a 5K but also run a 50K race this year pits speed and distance training against each other.

“My best New Year’s resolution is pretty simple. It seems like it would be a no-brainer for an elite runner, but I have a tendency to get hyper focused on my work projects, and I get buried pretty easily, so I have to make an effort to put my training on my calendar and especially make an effort on my rest days to get out, even if it’s just going on a walk with my kids.”
— Brian Tolbert

Why it’s Great: It’s not something as specific as a run streak plan for the year, but it also doesn’t set him up for failure. This simple resolution to get outside sets him up for an easy resolution win that will likely prompt healthier behaviors. Tolbert’s resolution still pushes him to get moving every day.

About the Author

Molly Hurford
Molly Hurford

Molly is an outdoor adventurer and professional nomad obsessed with all things running, nutrition, cycling and movement-related. When not outside, she’s writing and podcasting about being outside, training and health. You can follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @mollyjhurford.

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