Set a PB, gain confidence and shake up my routine. choose one (or more) of these 12 resolutions to reignite your running and have more fun.
Rachel Gaffney, 39, a mother of four, moved up the race-distance ladder from a 5K to a 50K in four years. Now she’s a coach who encourages others to step onto the same ladder, even if they only wish to climb a few rungs. “Seeing how far you can go keeps you motivated,” she says. “Each time I complete a new distance, I’m reminded there are no limits.”
MAKE IT HAPPEN Gaffney says that if you’re looking to up the race-distance ante, gradually boost your mileage for six to 16 weeks to a new plateau. This lets your body adapt to the increased demands on your legs and lungs. Stay on that plateau for an additional four to 10 weeks before tapering for your longest-ever race. It’s a safe and solid game plan.
Gaffney notes that you may need to exceed these minimums, and add tempo runs and speedwork, if you have an ambitious time goal. But it’s safest to set a goal of only finishing in your first attempt at a new, longer distance. After all, it’s a guaranteed PB.
5K to 10K: Bump up your training to at least 32 weekly kilometres in a minimum of three runs, peaking with a long run of 10 or more kilometres.
10K to Half-Marathon: Log at least 48 weekly kilometres in at least four runs, culminating in a long run of at least 18 kilometres.
Half to Marathon: The full 42.195 demands at least 64 weekly kilometres in at least four or five runs. Before tapering, nail one long run of at least 32 kilometres.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: 7 (OUT OF 10)
LOSE 5 KILOS FOR GOOD
Ah, the $800 million question. That’s the net worth of the bloated Australian diet industry (source: IBISWorld report), and what’s it get us? Not much, because most diets fail, says Enette Larson-Meyer, Ph.D., a trail runner who heads the University of Wyoming nutrition and exercise lab. She does say that runners have half the weight-control puzzle solved by exercising regularly – but that the other half, eating less, is even more critical. Damn.
“There’s no magic bullet,” says the sports nutritionist, instead offering a barrage of bite-size tips (below). Adopting even a few can help you shed kilos, and if you stick with them, you won’t gain the weight back. But she cautions against overreaching: “Don’t set a goal like becoming as thin as a supermodel. That’s unrealistic and can even hurt your running, because below a certain weight you’ll lose lean muscle and become more susceptible to injury or illness.”
MAKE IT HAPPEN It would be nice if you could lose weight by simply running more. But most of us neutralise the kilojoules we burn per kilometre by eating more. “We reward ourselves by thinking, I’ve earned it,” Larson-Meyer says. The key is to reduce kilojoule intake gradually so that you’re dropping just one quarter a kilogram to half a kilogram per week. “That’s consuming 1045 to 2090 fewer kilojoules a day, which isn’t a lot,” she says. “Don’t think of it as a diet, because you can’t diet forever. Think of it as permanent changes to eating habits that you can maintain.” Larson-Meyer’s advice:
Include protein in every meal. A 2010 study found that athletes were more successful losing weight with a diet that was 35 per cent protein than one that was 15 per cent protein. “Protein preserves lean muscle mass and controls appetite,” she says. But it should be lean, such as poultry, fish, lean meats, beans, lentils, soy food, and yoghurt.
Eat a meal within an hour after running. “This aids recovery and makes high-fat snacks less tempting.”
Don’t skip meals. Doing so almost always leads to excessive snacking.
Stay hydrated before, during, and after running. “Some people perceive thirst as hunger, and water dampens hunger.” Don’t bother with sports beverages except during intense workouts or on runs of 90 minutes or more because you won’t need the extra carbs.
Eat food, don’t drink it. Guzzling an 235 glass of apple juice, for example, won’t fill you up as much as a large apple. The real deal also has five more grams of fibre and takes longer to finish.
Run from fast food. A database of people who have lost significant weight and kept it off for at least a year shows that most consume only one fast-food meal per week.
Some “duh” tips you’ve heard that bear repeating: Eat only when you’re hungry. Eat smaller portions at meals.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: 10
FIGURE OUT MY WATCH
Whether you picked that fancy running watch for its fashionable look or its cool features, you probably only use the clock time and running time. But you should get your money’s worth. Most running watches include an interval timer (for timing speedwork and walk breaks) and a running log option (to store workout data). Some also have GPS capabilities. But with incomprehensible instructions, it’s understandable you haven’t bothered to open the manual, says Schuyler Schuster, an equipment guru.
MAKE IT HAPPEN Schuster says your best bet is to not leave the shop until you’ve asked the staff to walk you through the motions of at least your top two functions. Then ask them to show you any cool extras they love about the watch that most people are unaware of. For example, he says many runners are surprised to discover they can set alarms for drink and gel reminders, or that some recent models are capable of storing data for two runners. Already left the building? That’s why the Internet was invented. Go to YouTube and type the name of the model into the search bar. “Even the most obscure watch has short tutorials showing how to change settings and use all the features,” he says. And if you’re still stuck, our own Ask Miles says, “just use a simpler watch”.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: 2
**Check all the 12 resolution at the January Issue of Runner's World