As the end of 2018 rapidly approaches, the desire to introduce change – commonly known as New Year’s Resolutions – is overwhelming. You may feel compelled to transform into the ultimate runner.
Rather than place unrealistic expectations upon yourself, I challenge you to re-frame this desire for transformation.
Think back to your early academic years, where you likely had your first exposure to the experimental method. Let’s refresh the memory.
The experimental method involves manipulating one variable to determine if changes in one variable cause changes in an outcome. This method relies on controlled methods, collection of proper data, and analysis of results throughout the process.
Change ONE variable at a time, evaluate the impact, then continue forward or change direction. Define the change in measurable terms. Allow enough time – four to six weeks – for change to become noticeable and quantifiable. Re-evaluate the change. Repeat.
Practice “Why-ology”, meaning that if you cannot define the purpose of the change, then it should not be acted upon. Informed decision making will promote positive results and provide confidence that you are on the right track.
Remember, what works for one runner may not work for you.
What is the ONE thing you’d like to change right now about your running or life-maintenance routine?
Improve sleep habits and routines. Turn off electronic devices, silence the ringer, or leave devices out of the bedroom altogether. Wear a sleep mask to block out ambient light. Go to bed at the same time each night, waking at the same time each morning. Nap when the opportunity presents itself.
Improve nutrition, including meal planning and food preparation. Food is the foundation for quality training for any athletic endeavor. Research new recipes, plan meals for the upcoming week, create a shopping list of ingredients, then prepare ahead of time by chopping or cooking during the weekend.
Increase running knowledge, including training and racing. Check out my recommended reading list.
Stagnation with training routine or cycle. All runners have experienced a training slump. Research local running clubs and expand your knowledge of running routes while connecting with other runners.
Reflection on prior race experiences and desire to improve weak areas. Did hills kill your last race? Maybe it was late-race fatigue. Identify the weakest area in your training, then plan workouts that improve the deficiencies.
Add functional strength training or other complimentary activities – yoga, swimming, and/or biking – to supplement training. Multiple studies have demonstrated that cross training – especially strength training – have a positive impact on running.
Schedule recovery weeks in the training schedule. The time of decreased volume without change in intensity decreases likelihood of injury and increases time to reconnect with non-running activities.
Injuries bring out neurosis in runners. Accustomed to control and routine, injury disrupts both. Add in the loss of processing a large amount of energy, injured runners tend to zealously seek quick remedies. There is a large drive to “try it all” and see what works.
Don’t be afraid of change, but base the decision on sound research or under the guidance of a coach, physician, or other medical professional.
And remember, if the change isn’t producing desired results, it’s OK to try something different.