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10 New Years resolutions runners will actually want to keep

Haven't picked a 2022 goal yet? We've got you covered

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means Canadians across the country are starting to work at their New Year’s resolutions. While setting new goals this time of year isn’t mandatory, that turning-the-page feeling that comes with this time of year makes it a great time to set your intentions for the 12 months that lay ahead. If you haven’t decided on a 2022 resolution yet, check out the list below for some inspiration.

How to pick a good running goal

Why set a New Year’s resolution?

It may seem like a cliché to set a New Year’s resolution, but studies have shown that the beginning of a new chapter (even one that seems small) is the best time to start a behavioural change. The beginning of a new year, month or week is often when people feel more motivated to change, so you might as well take advantage of it.

And while it’s true that many New Year’s resolutions fail (some studies say as much as 80 per cent), runners are already pretty motivated, dedicated people, so we’re willing to bet that number would be much lower in the running population.

Train for a new race distance

Vancouver Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon

This is a particularly good resolution if you’re starting to get a little bored with your current running/racing routine. If you’ve been focusing on 5K’s, perhaps this is the year you try bumping up to a 10K? Or maybe you’ve been working away at the longer distances for the past few years, and 2022 is the year you take a crack at the mile.

Switching things up and training for a different distance is a great way to keep yourself challenged, and thus engaged with and excited about your training, so give it a shot and see what your body can do.

Do strides after two runs per week

Strides are a great way to improve your fitness and form and prepare your body for the next day’s run, but it’s so easy to finish your run, head inside and forget all about them. If you have trouble consistently doing strides after your run, make 2022 the year that you finally do them regularly. You don’t need to do them every day, but plan to add them after at least two of your easy runs every week. Make sure you know exactly which days you’re going to do them, and remind yourself before the run that “today is a stride day.”

Stretch for five minutes after every run

The six best stretches to do before or after your run

Taking a few minutes every day to stretch can help you prevent injuries and improve your form so you can run more efficiently, but we so often neglect this important part of recovery. This year, plan to spend just five minutes after every run stretching out areas of tightness. It doesn’t sound like much, but over time it’ll help keep you healthier.

Get on your foam roller

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with our foam roller, which makes it hard to get on it day after day. Instead of making it your goal to simply “foam roll more often,” this year plan to do it for 10 minutes, three times per week. Pick out the days and times you’re going to do it, and set reminders so you don’t forget. It may not be fun, but it’ll be worth it.

Start a strength training routine

A lot of runners do not enjoy strength training. After all, why be indoors counting reps when you could be outside in the fresh air? If sticking to a strength training routine is something you struggle with, make this year the year you get into the habit. You don’t have to start going to the gym for hours, but even a 30-minute home workout two times per week will help you become a stronger runner. Like with foam rolling, pick the days and times you’re going to dedicate to your strength training routine and put reminders in your phone so you don’t forget. If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of strength training plans for runners online for all different time constraints and ability levels.

Listen to your body

Runners are known for their ability to push through pain and discomfort, but we often go too far. In 2022, make it your goal to listen more intently to what your body is trying to tell you. Back off when it needs rest. Feed it when it’s hungry. Stop when it hurts and resume only when it’s ready to do so. A lot of injury times can be shortened if you have patience and give your body a chance to heal.

Try a trail race

Photo: Twitter/CityofPoMo

If you’re a serial road racer, why not try something different and sign up for a trail race? It’ll challenge you in different ways than the road will, and give you a whole new appreciation for our sport. Who knows? Maybe once you try one, you’ll want to sign up for more.

Take your easy days easy

A lot of runners are guilty of going too hard on their easy days, compromising their ability to recover so they can perform well in their workouts. This year, choose the pace you know you should be running for your recovery runs, and don’t allow yourself to go any faster. Whether that means you need to listen to some slower-paced music to help you ease up on the throttle, or invite a less-speedy friend to come along with you, figure out ways to prevent yourself from going too quick, and reap the benefits of the easy day shuffle.

Go to bed 30 minutes early

It seems like every month there’s more research coming out proving the health and performance benefits of sleep, so make 2022 the year you finally get enough shut-eye. This year, make it your goal to create a bedtime routine that involves shutting off the electronics to ease yourself into sleep readiness, and get yourself to bed in enough time to allow seven to eight hours of sleep. If getting to bed half an hour early is too difficult at first, start with even 10-15 minutes early ad gradually work your way from there.

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Nail your post-run nutrition

What you eat in the minutes following your workout will have a significant impact on your body’s ability to recover before your next run, so this year, make it your goal to always eat within 30 minutes of completing a run. This doesn’t have to be a full meal, but even a quick snack will help kick-start the recovery process so you can perform well in your next run.