By Christopher Cudworth
January 1 is actually a little late to make resolutions if you are planning to make 2013 a better year than 2012. However if you’re not reading this until January, the suggestions below are still highly valuable in helping you make plans for better running and riding in the new year.
Planning and preparation
Resolutions not only take planning, they take preparation. For people who run and ride, the period right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas is the best time to begin planning––and preparing––to run and ride with quality and appreciation in 2013.
Here’s what that quality and appreciation mean to those who run and ride.
Quality: To engage in focused effort each time you run or ride, and that includes focusing on the easy days as quality time on the run or ride.
Appreciation: To be attentive in all that you do. From organizing and maintaining your equipment to using it well as you train. And then being aware when you get out on the training run or ride why you are out there, and how grateful you should be for each step or pedal stroke.
Those two simple guidelines can be the foundation of planning your year. But the specifics of what you want to do are what real “resolutions” are about. Since I can’t speak for you or your goals, that has to be decided by you alone, the following are goals I have set for myself in 2013. Perhaps they can provide a health structure as you set your own goals for the coming year.
Are there specifics?
Notice that these goals are not yet set in specifics in some cases. Some people will tell you that goals can only be achieved if you apply concrete or quantitive values to them. I say bull to that. Goals are meant to improve the quality of your life, and you often cannot put a strict measure of worth on that. Incorporating specifics in the framework of your goals is fine and a good thing to do. But you should also not allow the specific to override the qualitative aspects of your goals, which may be aesthetic as well as achievement-oriented.
Strength training: Daily strength training is key to becoming a better runner or cyclist. Doing foundational core, upper body and leg strengthening exercises improves performance and helps prevent injury. Tip: To prepare for 2013, strength training begins now, in 2012. Work out a routine that you know is simple, effective and fulfilling. Look for results in how you feel as well as how you look. Sure, bulging muscles are great. But muscles and joints that work and do not get break down are much more important. In an upcoming blog I will document a strength circuit you can do at home without much equipment.
3 running races. 6 competitive or event rides: Last year–for a variety of very legitimate reasons–was a “down” year in terms of racing for me (only once on the bike, none on the run) and riding (crashed due to bike wobble at The Wright Stuff Century). In 2013, I am selecting some meaningful events in which to participate. My goals are purposefully modest in terms of the number of events in which I will participate. I would rather exceed my goals by choice rather than fall short by circumstance. This is realistic ambition in action.
My specific running/racing goals in 2013 include: Sub 22:00 5k. 6:00 mile on track. Break 50:00 for 10k (which is 20 minutes slower than my PR, but I am also 20+ years older than when it was set).
Riding/racing goals: Finish in Top 10 in one criterium/age group or category race. Complete a Century (never been done).
Weekly emphasis on speed work: Last year I ran and rode at virtually the same pace or rate all year. This resulted in stagnation and mental staleness. There were reasons for these outcomes, but the goal for 2013 is to exaggerate the quality of effort at least once a week while running (hitting the track for intervals) and practicing higher paced riding on a personal criterium course, and also out on the road with group partners. The purpose here is to increase variety while also breaking out of training ruts that lead to “flat” riding and running, stuck in one pace or one mental framework.
Increase my running and riding network: While I do love the club in which I ride for its devotion to all levels of riders, there is nothing like getting out with people you don’t know to broaden your horizons on the bike, or on the run. As a means to increase my running and riding network I plan to jump into a few of the higher quality group rides in the area once a month. I may get dropped but that’s the point. You have to test yourself or you fall into a rut. The goal will be to increase the length of time I can stick with the Tuesday-Thursday rides in which all the quality riders in the area participate. For running, I plan to join the groups that start at the Great Western Trailhead and expand my social network, thereby discovering the races and running opportunities that exist as well.
Encourage and foster your partnerships: Training partners can be key components of success each year. Start now by asking what your running and riding partners are planning for the new year. You may sync up with them on a ride or race, and set a mutual goal. That is great motivation for the new year.
Use winter training to prepare for spring, summer and fall: All of us tend to fall short in this category. Planning to do at least 2 outdoor rides on the mountain bike each week and a couple indoor rides on the road bike, or outdoors if weather allows as last winter did in Illinois, needs to become part of a mental framework, not just happenstance.
Giving back to the sports of running and riding: Each year I serve as a course marshall for several bike races. It is a really gratifying role because you are looking out for the safety of other riders, and you can learn a lot about racing by being up close to the race and on the course to see how bike racers handle their machines and their racing. I also volunteer on a worthwhile “cause” for the NAMI 5K that raises money for mental health services in our area and nationally.
Keep a simple journal or digital record: In the past I have been fastidious about journaling training and racing. Finding the simplest way to do this might involve purchase of a simple, functional notebook if that’s your style, or using your Smartphone to record your workouts for you. The choice is yours. I will opt for a combination of those two, since I used to cheat on the mileage end of things. Ha ha!
All these goals take preparation in the here and now. Yours probably do as well.
You can start by reaching out to people who can connect you to valued resources (such as good strength training exercises) or inform you on other aspects of your goals and what needs to be done before the year starts.
But in case you need immediate motivation, I suggest you hit the floor and give me 25 pushups RIGHT NOW!
Ha ha. Just kidding. But you get the point.
November and December really is the time to start your New Year’s Resolutions. Then you can start preparing for a successful year in 2013. But if you’re reading this January 1 and feeling guilty, never mind. There’s always time to make goals. It’s making the time to achieve them that matters most. And have a great 2013.