It’s hard to believe in about two weeks we’ll flip the calendar to a new year. When I reflect on 2015 my running fell a little short: I had to bow out of Speedgoat 50K due to my summer (un)employment status, I was sidelined with a nagging calf injury and missed one of my favorite races, and I didn’t even come close to my first 50-miler. I could go on, but instead I’ll look ahead to 2016. Whether your year was filled with similar woes or blissful PR’s, I encourage you to do the same.
While 2015 is quickly coming to a close, there’s still plenty you can do to prepare for a successful 2016 running season.
- Review Your Year & Set New Goals
Now is the time to reflect on your year. If you have a training log, pull it out and spend time reviewing it. Be honest with yourself about where things went wrong and opportunities for improvement. It’s also important to learn from and celebrate your success. Use your review to set new goals for 2016. Consider having a two-tier plan. My goal is to run a 50-miler, but if I falter again, I’ll need a plan B.
- Nail Down Your Race Schedule
Given how quickly races can fill up and the amount of time and commitment it takes to train, start planning your race schedule today. Be sure to include a variety of races (see my race guide for ideas). Set calendar reminders so you don’t forget to register for races when they open.
- Listen to Your Body
Lingering tweaks? Sore muscles? Nip these in the bucket before the grumblings become more serious issues. My left calf has been bothering me again (sigh), so I finally went to see a sports doctor who referred me to a physical therapist. Take care of your body now to prevent derailment in the New Year.
- Mix it Up
The legendary George Sheehan once said something along the lines of “runners are only half athletes”—meaning our lower bodies tend to be the strongest while our upper bodies get neglected. No-or-low impact activities such as yoga, biking, swimming, and weights are good cross training options to condition different muscle groups, reduce injury, and improve the cardiovascular system. Decide what’s best for you and start doing it today.
- Get Inspired
As much as we love running, sometimes it’s hard to get out the door—and a little inspiration can go a long way. There’s no shortage of inspiring runners doing remarkable things. Take a few minutes and scroll through the pages of Trail Runner, Zelle or the many personal blogs out there for a little inspiration. Running a race for a worthy cause or nonprofit can also be very motivating (don’t forget to share your race story on Small Change).
- Create (More) Healthy Habits
For years, I’ve told myself I’ll use my foam roller; though it continues to gather dust in the corner of the living room. Now is the time to revive your heathy habits and take them into the New Year. To get reacquainted with my foam roller, I’ve created the rule if I’m watching TV, I’ll roll during commercials.
- Grow Your Support Team
Success rarely is achieved alone; I’ve always said my acupuncturist and massage therapists keep me running up mountains. What extra support do you need? Maybe it’s joining a running group or hiring a running coach? If you’re active on social media, you can find great camaraderie from your fellow runners (and a few laughs) through weekly Twitter chats, such as #UltraChat, #BibChat, and #RunChat.
- Assess Your Gear
Take an assessment of your gear and ask yourself, do I have the right shoes, gear, and accessories? Holiday sales are a great time to get what you’ll need or try something new for 2016.
- Take A Break
Sometimes a break is all you need to recharge your batteries and get moving again. Taking a few days off here and there won’t reduce your fitness level—our muscles have longer memories than a couple days. Use the downtime to do things you put off during high training season. Or you could just take a break and do, well…nothing.
- Remind Yourself Why You Run
Running isn’t always easy or fun, but we do it. As 2015 comes to a close, remind yourself why you run—what motivates you and pushes you forward? Take these positive sentiments into 2016 and when things get tough out there pull these gems out.
What are your running goals for 2016?