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Keep that New Year’s running resolution

Winter Running

A few weeks into the new year, most people’s resolutions are now facing their first big test. The first few days were easy. It’s once you get back into the daily grind when old habits take over.

Those core exercises you were going to do after every run? Stuffed in the bottom of your gym bag like a pair of smelly socks. That run streak you started, crowing back on Jan. 1 that you would run every day this year? Make that “every day this year when the temperature is above -20” (I’m guilty of that one.) And let’s just say it would be a shame to throw away all that leftover Christmas chocolate.

So, how can we do it? How can we stick to our resolutions when the going gets tough? The solution is simple: be flexible.

Here’s the thing: our resolutions, while they might be fairly specific (they have to be in order to succeed), usually serve a more general purpose. Why core after every run? To get stronger, so you can run a PB. Why a run streak? Because nothing gets you PB-fit like consistent mileage. Why give up chocolate? A healthy diet leads to PBs, of course!

So if our end goal is to run faster and feel better about it, is missing one day really the end of the world? That sounds like advice from the devil on your shoulder, but consider the alternative: if you give up just because you miss one day, you are definitely not going to hit your goals. But if you build specific habits to reach a larger goal, then one day off really isn’t a big deal.

Focus on the positive. Our brains react to a much greater degree to negative information than to positive. Maybe that is because of elevated expectations, or perhaps there is some evolutionary reason for it. But that fact explains why after a week straight of daily runs, core and no chocolate, we get all bent out of shape over one Ferraro Rocher, rather than acknowledging our very successful week.