Maybe it feels like we’re bringing up ancient history, but it wasn’t long ago that you were probably resolving to do something new, different or better. New Year’s resolutions put a lot of pressure on us — especially if the resolution involves running, and the plan is to start in the thick of winter, during some of the worst weather of the year.
Whether you resolved to eat healthier, run every day or tackle a marathon after the ball dropped on January 1, you might have dropped the ball on your resolution. But don’t worry: Just because you haven’t made the progress you’d hoped to make doesn’t mean the year is a bust — also, you’re definitely not alone.
Traci Stanard, a mental training consultant for athletes, has seen it all: A former elite gymnast, Stanard now helps athletes hit their goals. “February is when the year picks back up again, and you get overwhelmed,” says Stanard. But it doesn’t have to be that way! She’s helping us work out why we set resolutions that are too big or too hard to keep, and she tells us how to get back on track if your resolution has gone awry.
IF YOU WERE GOING TO STRETCH AFTER EVERY RUN
Just because you haven’t started a daily stretching practice in the last few weeks, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. But it does mean you need to look at how you manage your time: Are you scheduling your runs so you have a bit of time to stretch after, or are you cramming them into your lunch hour or right before the kids get home? If you’re not actually making time for stretching and scheduling that into your workout routine, Stanard says, you’re less likely to stick to the routine.
The fix: Clean up your workout calendar and underline “Stretch!” after each run, finishing your sprints with time to spare before a conference call or lunch date. “Keep that pocket of time,” she says. “Some days, if you miss it, that’s OK, but make sure that time is always booked out for that particular thing.” (This can also apply to starting any kind of running routine.)
IF YOU WANTED TO LOSE FIVE POUNDS BUT GAINED THREE
When it comes to goals that are written in black and white and don’t focus on the work that it takes to accomplish them, you need to back up and take a new approach to goal-setting, says Stanard.
The fix: Write your goal at the top of a piece of paper — in this case, to lose five pounds. Then, start listing the ways you can reach that goal: Swap your daily soda for a water, skip the second cookie, choose chocolate or wine for dessert (but not both), cut your daily caloric intake by 200 calories per day or seek guidance from a nutritional expert, for example. Once you have that list, forget the “lose five pounds” bottom line and focus on hitting those smaller actions instead — the big goal will follow, Stanard assures us. The same applies to a run-specific goal like “run an ultramarathon.” That’s a great goal, but you won’t hit it if you don’t break down what’s involved in getting to that ultra mileage.
IF YOU WANTED TO START RUNNING EVERY DAY
The problem with resolutions, Stanard says, is that they are all or nothing, making it seem like skipping a day is akin to completely failing. Not the case, she says. “In reality, you need to break it down to every minute,” she says. “Not the entire year.”
The fix: Focus on smaller, more achievable goals like hitting your daily target today. As for honing your daily habits, figure out how to make it easier to be successful. If it’s raining or too icy to run outside, invest in a treadmill or join a gym with treadmills, or make a list of alternative activities (like a spin class) that you can do instead of running.
READ MORE > WINTER MESSED WITH MY RUNS, BUT THAT’S OK
IF YOU WERE GOING TO EAT HEALTHIER
Setting more measurable guardrails would be important here. Also, Stanard says to take stock of why you want to eat healthier. If it’s to lose weight, you’ll need to know where the extra calories are coming from.
The fix: Consider tracking your food intake with an app like MyFitnessPal and your runs with MapMyRun. You’ll quickly see where you’re overindulging. If there’s one or two particular extras that you’ve noticed, Stanard says to consider what’s making you opt for them. Are you eating an extra pastry because you’re underfueling your ride, or are you stressed? She advises asking yourself if there’s a better option: Could you drink a cup of herbal tea and have a piece of fruit instead of a latte and danish or a chocolate protein shake instead of a chocolate milkshake?
IF YOU WERE GOING TO START TRAINING FOR AN EVENT
Often, it feels like you have so much time to plan and train, until the race has come and gone.
The fix: The first step is to actually sign up. That way, you have a big red circle around the day you’re working toward. Second: Find a training plan or coach to help you make a set of workouts tailored to get you to the starting line in shape. Stanard is also a huge fan of visualization, so try to visualize how you want the event to go. The more time you spend imagining it, the more committed you’ll be to the process. (Planning a destination race? Look up some photos and videos from the event to make your visualizations more meaningful.)
Don’t forget: Even if you’re reading this in May, and you’re just starting to reconsider your New Year’s resolutions, it’s still not too late. New Year’s is just an arbitrary date for a reset, but you can change your life any day of the year!
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN