Challenges not resolutions
By Alexis Mercer
I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions as long as I can remember. My thought is that resolutions seem to be suggesting changing oneself in drastic ways.
This year I resolve to lose the 10 pounds I put on in college…
This year I resolve to join a gym and make myself a regular…
This year I resolve to stop smoking…
These aren’t my personal resolutions. Just examples of some that seem to be common. Chances aren’t great that if you haven’t figured out how to lose the 10 (ehhh maybe 20) pounds you put on 25 years ago in college, you aren’t going to be able to do that this year by setting a resolution that says you will. If you’ve never enjoyed attending a gym, chances are that you won’t dive in and become a regular with a resolution that says you will. And if you’re a smoker without a specific plan of how to quit, the odds aren’t the best that just setting a resolution to do so won’t be all that effective.
Instead, I like setting specific challenges at the beginning of the year. I reflect back on the past year and try to think of smaller goals that I can set for myself that will potentially bring me a step closer to where I hope to be either in my fitness, family life, career or general well-being.
This way I am not looking to make drastic changes that might be so far out of reach I am setting myself up for failure. Then I come up with specific plans for how to reach my goals.
My favorite challenges at the beginning of the year involve local road races. If you’ve never attended a local race, you’re missing out. Often these races are put on by non-profit groups that use the proceeds as their funding for the year. By signing up and paying the entry fee, you’re supporting causes that are in need of your support.
There are plenty to choose from! You can Google “road races near me” and come up with plenty.
One year instead of setting my sights on a local race, I chose a destination I had never been and my sister and both trained in our respective cities, flew to Austin and enjoyed an extended weekend together exploring the city and running the race! This was the year that I had a one year old at home (with a three and six year old as well) who had yet to sleep through the night. My real challenge for the year was to survive. No joke. But the challenge I had written down was to find a race in a new location my sister and I could run together. Then half the fun was spending time with her looking for and planning our trip!
Maybe your challenge is to run your first 5k. Maybe it’s to cross the line of a distance you haven’t yet conquered. Or maybe it’s going for a 50k Ultramarathon (bless you). The distance or speed isn’t what matters. It is that you set a challenge that is meaningful and important for your own life, wherever you’re at in that moment.
Sometimes I want to work on speed (5ks are 3.1 miles of pure guts), other times I think about a distance I haven’t competed in before (last year’s marathon). Maybe there is a holiday I know is stressful, so I plan a race around that time that I can focus on something other than the business of the season. The challenge all depends on what I’m looking to accomplish.
So come January, I start searching. I check my challenges for the year and seek out races that will fulfill my goals. I choose one, two or three and then I start the planning. I either plan my own training program if it’s something I’m familiar and comfortable with, or I find a training plan online. There are so many available...many for free!
Then I write it all down. The challenges, the specific daily plan. I set short term goals for where I want to be by when. Even if I print out a training plan that someone else created, I still like to write it down myself. It helps me solidify the steps in my head.
This year I have quite a few distances on my list of goals. I decided I’m going to return to the 25k distance of the Riverbank Run, which I haven’t tackled in quite a few years. Because of that goal, I chose other races to give myself “checkpoint goals” along the way. Training from now until May seemed a little daunting without some fun before then!
The first on that list is the Fremont Frostbite on January 26. The second is the Kent City Ridge Run. Both are put on by local cross country teams. The proceeds fund their programs (the Ridge Run donates money to local charities as well) for the year. They are well-organized, fun, and have great post-race food to enjoy while you’re celebrating the completion of your goals.
I have nothing but respect for those of you who can set life-altering resolutions each year and make them happen. I just happen to be someone who likes to challenge myself and enjoy the process of achieving what I set out to do! However your New Year works, I wish you a prosperous, healthy, and happy 2019!
In case you’re interested in either of these local races, here are the links to sign up online.
Fremont Frostbite (January 26)
Kent City Ridge Run (March 23)
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