Run into the New Year right, starting on New Year’s Day. We have 31 great run- and health-related doses of inspiration to set yourself up for success.
DAY 1: HYDRATE AND RESET
Let’s be honest, you probably overindulged on New Year’s Eve. Rather than lying in bed groaning all day, start 2018 on the right foot by hydrating ASAP, possibly even adding an electrolyte tablet to your water to refill electrolyte stores and regain some equilibrium in your body if you drank too much champagne last night. Then, lace up your running shoes and get out for an easy run or a long walk to reset your system. (Wear dark glasses if you must.)
DAY 2: RECALIBRATE YOUR WARDROBE
Take 30 minutes to look through your running gear. Wash what needs to be washed (including shoes, hats and gloves), jettison old gear you never wear or tights that are starting to fall apart, and make a shopping list for the necessities you’ve been neglecting.
DAY 3: DO AN HONEST CHECK-IN
Now that the holidays are officially over, this is a great time for a 1-mile timed test run, a weigh-in or body measurements so you have a good idea whether you need to drop a few pounds to make race weight, bulk or buff up a little or work on speed drills to get faster. (It’s also a great day to take some ‘before’ pictures if you’re hoping for a 2018 transformation.)
DAY 4: HOLD A PLANK
Just for a minute, pre- and post-run. (Take breaks if you need to.) This is a favorite of chiropractor Greg Wright, who swears by planks for core stability and strength for athletes. Already doing this regularly? Add in a few plank variations.
DAY 5: CHECK YOUR RACE CALENDAR
And register now, if possible! (Otherwise, create a reminder on your calendar for when registration opens.) Start planning backward from key dates to figure out a rough map of your pre-season training.
DAY 6: WRITE IN A JOURNAL
“Running allows me to set my mind free,” says Kara Goucher, Olympic long-distance runner. “Nothing seems impossible. Nothing unattainable.” After your run today, do a 20-minute brain dump in a journal, writing down everything you thought about during your run, every goal you have for the year, secret wishes, whatever comes to mind. You might surprise yourself. (You might also get hooked and make this a weekly habit.)
DAY 7: GET SOCIAL
Start by emailing a friend to meet up for a run or look for local running groups you’d like to check out. On a tamer note, make plans for a post-run walk or plan to meet at a workout class or fun post-run spot.
DAY 8: ASSESS YOUR PRE-RUN FUEL
Are you feeling bloated before you run? Maybe you need to skip the fat-heavy snack in favor of something small and carb-filled. It’s easy to fall out of good pre-run eating, and into “I’ll just grab whatever’s handy,” but that may be keeping you from hitting your running goals.
DAY 9: TRY A TABATA INTERVAL
If you’re feeling stale, this is a fun (and brutally hard) one. The best part is: In 30 minutes, you’re done. Warm up for 5 minutes. For 20 minutes, alternate between going all out, as hard as you can, for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of walking or jogging. If you want to add a full-body workout, swap every other run for a 20-second set of air squats or burpees.
DAY 10: ADD A QUICK STRENGTH ROUTINE
Aim to do this in the morning or at lunch. You don’t always need to hit the gym to do strength work: A playground or hotel room can be just as effective! If you aren’t already, adding two or three short 20–30 minute strength sessions a week can improve your running and serve as a faster workout on days when running isn’t an option.
DAY 11: RUN WITHOUT HEADPHONES
In “Mindful Running,” Mackenzie Havey, the meditation-loving runner. explains that if you’re not the type who can ‘Ommmm’ on a mat at the end of a workout, a running meditation is the perfect fix. Try going out without music or a podcast and see what happens. It may take a few runs to get used to this, but it’s worth it.
DAY 12: PREP A RUN BAG
“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail,” Olympic medalist Mark Spitz said. Pack your emergency run bag so you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.
DAY 13: HIT RESET
You’re almost half-way through the month, so take a few minutes after your run and indulge in some self-care. Author of “Hit Reset,” and founder of JasYoga, Erin Taylor dedicates huge chunks of her book to stretches and yoga poses ideal for runners.
READ MORE > POST-RUN YOGA STRETCHES | 5-POSE YOGA FIX
DAY 14: CHECK YOUR WATER INTAKE
You’re likely drinking less than you think, so for a day, use a bottle that’s marked and actually keep track of your hydration status. Or log it on MyFitnessPal.
DAY 15: COLLAGE YOUR RUNNING GOALS
This might be a Pinterest board with pics of Usain Bolt, Shalane Flanagan or your other running superstars. It might be an actual collage with cutouts from your favorite running magazines mixed with your old bib numbers and some race photos of you. Whatever form it takes is great: Just make sure every time you look at it, it inspires you to lace up your shoes and get running.
DAY 16: DO FARTLEKS!
The funnest of the interval sets, these simple additions to your workout can make getting fast super-easy. Do your normal run, as planned, but add short bursts and sprints by picking an object in the distance, like a lamppost or sign, and sprinting to it. Vary the distances so you’re going all-out for anywhere from 3–30 seconds, and aim for one per song on your playlist (or one every 3 minutes, if you’re running sans tunes).
DAY 17: ASSESS YOUR POST-RUN FUEL
Equally important as assessing what you’re doing before a run is considering what your post-run meal looks like. Ideally, you’re having a mix of protein and carbs for maximal recovery. While it’s not urgent to eat as soon as you stop running, you should be snacking within an hour of your run, lest you end up with three donuts in later that afternoon.
DAY 18: CHECK IN
“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running,” says Julie Isphording, a former Olympic runner. Take a few minutes pre- or post-run today to journal a bit about your feelings on running. What are you feeling before you run? What about during and after? What runs make you the happiest, and what’s the best run you can remember? (Once you answer that, figure out what you can do to make every run more like that perfect one!)
DAY 19: LOG YOUR MEALS
DAY 20: GET UP EARLY AND ADD A SHORT WALK
Walking before breakfast helps get your digestion running smoothly and starts your day right. Even 10–15 minutes is plenty: enough to walk the dog, hit the nearby coffee shop or just enjoy the sunrise and the fresh air. Mornings are stressful and, yes, tight on time, but the mental clarity and the physical pick-me-up of the walk is worth skipping one snooze button cycle.
DAY 21: READ
Pick a run-related book to motivate you. (We have a list of six great options, from fiction to training plans to nonfiction, right here!) Bonus points if you find a running buddy to read along with you.
DAY 22: WEAR SUNSCREEN
Yes, it’s winter. Yes, you still need sunscreen. Yes, you will need to wear it year round.
DAY 23: GAMEIFY YOUR RUN
Pick a few rewards — maybe a new book on running, a new pair of socks, whatever toys you’ve been eyeing — and make a wish list. Every month you hit your training goals, reward yourself.
DAY 24: COMMIT AND RECOMMIT
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” Wayne Gretzky famously said. The same is true of running or racing. Are there any runs you’re dying to do, but just can’t commit to? Maybe you want to summit the local mountain or actually run the marathon you keep wishing you could do. It might be time to set those goals for real and start working toward them. On a micro-level, apply this to your daily runs: Sure, that interval may not feel great, but you’ll be a lot more likely to nail those splits if you actually go for it.
DAY 25: RE-ASSESS ANY GEAR NEEDS
You’re almost done with the first month of the year! Are your sneakers wrecked? Socks riddled with holes? Running tops permanently sweaty-smelling? If you’re a regular runner, you know the right gear is hugely important to feeling good and having a solid workout. Order the new stuff you need, and chuck the old junk — you know if you keep it, you’ll continue wearing it even when you know you shouldn’t!
DAY 26: ADD A SHORT YOGA SESSION
This is a great one to try as a daily habit for the whole year, but start with just today. You might want to check out some streaming classes from the comfort of home or you might want to do a few sun salutations and flow through a few poses you know. It doesn’t have to be long.
DAY 27: MAKE MUSIC
Create the perfect race-day playlist on Spotify, so when race time rolls around, you’re not scrambling to find your pump-up jams.
DAY 28: HAVE A FUN RUN
Leave the GPS and smartwatch at home, forget the measurements and mileage, and just go for a run. Feel free to swing in to the coffee shop for that espresso. Play on the nearby playground. However long or short the run is, just enjoy the process of running, and remind yourself you do this because you love it.
DAY 29: TREAT YO’SELF … TO A PEDICURE.
(Yes, guys too!) Runner’s feet can get pretty callused and gross. If you’re embarrassed to go to a spa and get a proper pedicure (with or without nail polish), at least spend time soaking your feet in water with Epsom salt and using a pumice stone to lightly buff away the dead skin buildup. Then, moisturize with lotion, and slap on thick socks. Trust me: Your feet will thank you. Make this a weekly or biweekly habit.
DAY 30: EMBRACE THE LIFESTYLE
“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life,” George Sheehan, MD, author of “Going the Distance,” once said. That’s right: The fact you run means you’re hungry for more and more experiences. This might just be a reminder to enjoy and revel in the fact that you love to run, or it might be a call to action to find ‘more and more life’ in a running adventure shared with a friend.
DAY 31: ENJOY A SENSE OF SATISFACTION
You made it through the first month! Look back at this list and note a few habits that really worked for you and you’d like to continue, then keep them high on your to-do list.