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Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

How to turn your goals into reality

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Updated May 14, 2013

If you're like the majority of people who make New Year's resolutions, your goals are probably related to health, weight loss, and fitness. And, since you're visiting this site, your resolutions also most likely have something to do with running. Here are some simple strategies to help turn those running resolutions into reality.

Choose Realistic Resolutions

Picking New Year's resolutions that are not realistic for you is just setting yourself up for failure. Your chances of achieving your goals are much better if they're realistic. Of course, it's always fun and inspiring to dream, but try breaking your ultimate goal up into more manageable, realistic goals that could lead you to it.

For example, you're not going to run a sub-25:00 5K if your current personal record is 35:00, but you can start taking steps toward getting faster.

Also see: How to Set SMART Running Goals
Ideas for Running Resolutions

Don't Take on Too Much

When choosing your resolutions, don't try to change many different things at once. You'll burn yourself out and won't accomplish any of your goals, leaving you feeling disappointed and defeated. Instead, focus on a few key goals and the steps you need to take to reach them.

Write Down Your Plan

Write out your plan for achieving your goals. Writing down your resolution and the steps you're going to take can be very motivating. It will help you make your goals specific, not vague, and will force you to commit to your resolution.

Set Small, Attainable Goals

If you have a really ambitious New Year's resolution, such as running a marathon, make sure that you have smaller, attainable goals with measurable results along the way. They'll help you track your progress and prevent you from getting bored or discouraged.

For example, if your resolution is to lose 25 pounds, your first goal could be to lose 5 pounds. Or, if your goal is to complete a half-marathon, first try to run a 10K or shoot for a personal record in the 5K. An added benefit of setting smaller, attainable goals is that even if you don't meet your ultimate goal, you'll still have achieved other accomplishments along the way.

Make Your Goals Known

Telling friends and family members about your goals means that people will be holding you accountable and supporting you along the way. Your goals will also seem more real if you talk about them, rather than keeping them to yourself.

Keep a Journal

Tracking your runs in a journal is a great way stay motivated. Even if no one else sees it, it can help hold you accountable. It's also a good place to record your goals. When you hit a rough patch in your training, you can go back and get inspired by how much progress you've made. Reviewing your positive steps will also make it harder to go back to your old habits. You can use a simple notebook to keep a journal or buy a training log that's just for runners.

Use a Schedule and Get Organized

Deciding to go for a run when you feel like it isn't going to work for most people. Look at your weekly schedule and figure out when you're most likely to have the time for running, cross-training, or whatever activities are going to help you reach your goals. Get everything you need to help accomplish your resolutions, so you can't come up with easy excuses. For example, if you only have one pair of comfortable running shorts, buy some more running clothes so you can't use "my shorts are in the wash" as a reason not to run.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

You're going to experiences some setbacks on the road to achieving your resolutions. Don't let one or two slips make you give up. Think of setbacks as opportunities for growth and don't beat yourself for not being perfect. Try to stay positive and get back on track.

Reward Yourself With Each Goal

If you've reached a mini-goal or you're stuck with your resolution for a month, treat yourself to something special. But, try not to use food as a reward. Instead, treat yourself to something non-food related that will benefit your running, like a professional massage or some new running clothes or gear.

Find Support

Sticking to your resolutions is much easier when you have back-up. If you have specific running goals, try to find a running group in your area and meet with them for regular runs. You'll learn more about running and be motivated to run if you know there's a group of people expecting you.

The social aspect will also keep running from getting boring. If you can't find a running group, try to get a friend or family member to be your running buddy, so the two of you can hold each other accountable. Or, use online support groups, such as the About.com Running discussion forum.

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