The new year can present an opportunity to start fresh, create new habits and make a plan for going after and achieving your own personal goals. While it is a time of year that can help provide us with a purpose and new motivation, it can also create stress from the expectations created by society- if you’re not up at 6 am, ticking off you’re to-do list and getting in your exercise by 9 am, are you really doing it right? These high expectations are the reason why, by the end of January, we all find ourselves already exhausted and demotivated, ultimately not enjoying our day-to-day routines.
If you are new to running or have just begun a new training plan, it is important not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of January madness. I have been running since primary school and I know that the best way to enjoy my running and make progress is to make SMAT goals and approach my training with consistency and longevity in mind. So, if you are looking for some guidance, here are some of my top tips to guide you along the way.
- S.M.A.R.T Goals
SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC, and TIMELY.
The first place to start off is with setting your short-term and long-term goals. Using the SMART acronym is the easiest way to guide you and help you achieve your goals, making progress each week. Your long-term goal may be completing your first 5k in 3-4 months’ time. As a new runner, this could be a bit daunting, so ensuring you have some short-term goals is essential.
Your goals need to be specific to you. It might be completing your first 5k without walking or aiming for a quicker time than you have ran before. Consider your current fitness and what you think you can achieve with some consistent training.
Measurable- Give yourself a goal of either time or distance. This could be running 1k without stopping or getting sub 40 mins for your 5k.
Achievable and realistic- You need to ensure your goals and not unattainable. Make sure to consider your work/ life balance and how much time you can devote to training. Once it is realistic, you will enjoy your training and not feel under pressure to fit in lots of miles and sessions every week. Keep quality in your sessions, rather than focusing on the quantity.
Timely- Pick your race, get your entry and use this as your guide to achieving that goal. Once a date is set in stone, this will keep you accountable and motivated. If we don’t have a race date, how will we have the motivation to get out of bed on those cold mornings!
- Training Gear
The first few months of the year in Ireland can be cold, wet, dark, and windy. As a runner, being exposed to these elements can put us off heading out the door, but with the right gear, nothing can stop you. Personally, I struggle in cold weather, especially with my hands and feet. From November until about March every year, I don’t leave the house without my gloves and good running socks. A headband can help with keeping your body temperature up. I like to layer up the top half: a t-shirt, long sleeves, and jacket or rain jacket depending on temperatures are what I need. Having the right gear can make or break a running session, so check the weather app on your phone in the morning and dress appropriately before leaving. If you’re driving to your training location, take the extra time to pack a change of clothes too!
We all know just how important nutrition is when it comes to leading a healthy, sustainable life. If you are increasing your training, your energy demands will significantly increase too. I always have a few All-Real bars in my training bag, to ensure I am never caught out and have something delicious to help me stay fuelled and ready for my training and my day. Ensuring you stay hydrated also is a key element. If you need extra guidance, Evan Lynch is the All-Real Sports nutrition specialist and Dietician and can help you with all your needs 😊
- Your tribe
I have spent a lot of my life training and running solo, and while I have enjoyed it, I have recently begun training with a group of runners and it has been one of the best experiences. Firstly, it makes training so much fun! Between the conversations on our long runs, the teamwork during hard sessions, and the post-workout coffees and food, running has created an incredible social outlet for me and is the part of each day I look forward to the most. So, if you are new to running, explore the running community and clubs in your locality and see what running can offer you!
Lastly, my number 1 tip- do it for you!!! It is great to have external motivators but ensure you are doing this for yourself, and you are enjoying your own journey.
Follow your own footsteps, be unique and live life. That’s what it’s all about.