Runners World Articles: Archives
Keep This Promise
Somewhere in your brain's memory bank is that graveyard of failed
New Year's resolutions. You know, the "Nevermore will I eat ice
cream" declaration, the "My selfish behaviors will disappear this
year" promise and countless other January commitments that never
quite made it to the Ides of March.
This year will be different Really.
A strong, attainable resolution can focus your running and boost
motivation and performance. To make a running resolution stick,
however, you first must do some research. Take a look back over
your past year of running. Did you complete that first-time marathon
or run a personal best in the 5K? Did you generally look forward
to running, or have you felt stuck in a rut? From this information,
you want to uncover the single most important change you need to
make with your running.
Of course, the best source of such information is a training log.
Writing down specifics about how long you ran, how much time it
took and how you felt will help you see your past accomplishments
clearly and keep your current resolution on the front burner. So
if you haven't kept a logbook before, make it resolution #1 this
In addition to keeping a training log, here are four other great
resolutions. Each is based on a common problem you might find when
gazing into your past.
Problem: You often cut your long runs short.
Resolution: Start slowly.
When I began running a few minutes slower per mile than my race
pace during the first few miles of my workouts, I virtually stopped
having bad runs. Even if you plan to go fast later in the run, start
slowly to warm up your muscles and tendons, get your heart pumping
and start the endorphins flowing. This will allow you to run longer
and smoother overall.
Problem: You often skip workouts because you just
don't feel like running.
Resolution: Reward yourself.
Some beginners tell me the only thing that gets them out of bed
for a run on those dark winter mornings is the greasy cinnamon bun
waiting for them afterward. Even a postrun bagel and conversation
with a running friend or two will magnify the fun and camaraderie
of your run.
Problem: You're bored.
Resolution: Challenge yourself.
Write a specific marathon, half-marathon, 10K, trail race or some
other event on your calendar and train for it. A challenging mission
will get you out on the road, even after those bad days at work.
Problem: You feel slow.
Resolution: Add "gliders" to your workouts. In
the middle of your runs, glide for 20 to 30 meters. That is, go
at about 90 percent of your maximum speed for 50 steps or so while
lightly touching the ground. Keep your feet low to the surface,
and don't increase your stride length, bounce or forward lean. By
practicing this technique, you'll feel fast at any speed. Try to
repeat these gliders eight or more times during your runs. Gliders
invigorate your workouts while teaching you to run fast without
pain and agony. What a deal!
MAKE THEM STICK
Once you pick an attainable resolution, you need a way to remind
yourself of its importance. Here are a few ideas.
1. Put a piece of white adhesive tape on your shoes emblazoned
with the words "start slow," "run light" or "reward yourself." When
you go out for your next run, the words will remind you of your
2. Write the key words on your coffee cup, on your water bottle
or on a notepad at your desk.
3. In your new training log, write your goal clearly on every single
World, January 1999, p. 34
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