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1. Get out of your comfort zone: Let 2015 be the year you try new things in regards to working out. Never tried Barre, Pilates, Yoga, even Zumba? Take a couple of classes! Make sure to try something more than once. Initially you may dislike a new workout because you aren’t good at it the first time you try, but you may grow to love it.
2. Find your appropriate training zone: If you want to improve at running, or simply not slide backwards, you have to mix up the distances and the paces of your runs. My favorite way to find what my current training paces should be is the online running calculator by Coach Greg McMillian (www.mcmillanrunning.com).
3. Think quality not quantity: It’s easy to get in to the mindset of “do more, eat less” when you want to up your fitness level, take your running to a another level, or simply firm up the body you have. However this can, and often does, lead to burn out or weight gain. If you spend an hour at the gym each day, ask yourself, “Am I being effective with my workout? Could I do the same amount I’m doing but maybe pick up the pace and get it finished in less time?” Doing a speed workout and adding on 1-2 cool down miles afterwards is effective. You don’t need to run 5 miles after a hard workout to “cool down.” If you have that much energy after the speed section of the run, were you really pushing as hard as you were supposed to push. Did you give your best to what the workout called for?
4. Train your mind to think of food as fuel: If you put “junk” in your body, you can’t expect yourself to feel great on your runs let alone in every day life. Food can always be enjoyed, but I recommend thinking about how you are going to feel during your run or workout as a result of what you put into your body. It makes it easier to turn down less than great choices and find optimal ones. Treat your body like an expensive race car and only put in the best fuel.
5. Food is not a reward: I was raised in an environment where food was the reward for big things. I can remember as a child going to Friendly’s and getting the biggest ice cream sunday ever as a reward for school performances that went well. It’s been a battle for me to undo the type of thinking such as “I just ran 20 miles. Now I deserve to eat anything I want.” I certainly splurge but I try to ask myself before I eat something – is this getting me closer to my goals or farther away?
6. Stop eating things out of boxes: When I shop at a grocery store, I shop the outside aisles. This is where the fruit, vegetables, and meats typically are. I venture in to the middle isle’s only for specific items; I don’t just browse. Try to limit the things I purchase in boxes. More often than not they contain a manufactured food item rather than a whole food. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but just being aware of bringing less boxes of food into your home can cut down on the amount of calories you are eating from items that are not nutritionally dense.
7. Running isn’t everything: The older I get, the more aware I have become that I need to incorporate some type of strength into my workout routine. Running is not enough to give me the body I want and keep me feeling strong. You can do typical strength work at the gym, or try a DVD at home. Even just doing core work and pushups at home a couple of times a week will not only improve your running, but your overall body composition.
8. Wear an activity tracker: Whenever I wear a fitness tracker, I am painfully aware of the days that I am sitting too much. Just having that little reminder all day that I need to move encourages me keep going. A bonus? My house is a lot cleaner now that I look at all moving as good moving!
9. Train your brain: I believe the body achieves what the mind believes. If you constantly speak to yourself negatively, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. I know it’s hard, or may seem silly. However instead of getting down on yourself for choices you aren’t happy about, encourage yourself when you make choices you do like. Repeat to yourself: “I am strong. I can do this. This is my year.” Mental pep talks work.
10. Add a new non time related goal: Ask any runner what they want most out of running this year. I’m guessing more than half of them will say a new PR in their distance of choice. While PR’s are awesome, its the journey that gets you to those moments. I have a challenge for you. If your running is all about PR’s, you should find one non-time related goal in 2015. Maybe you try a new distance out or gather friends to sign up for your first relay. Perhaps decide to run 12 half marathons, one every month. Get out of your comfort zone when it comes to what goal you pick.
Lastly remember to enjoy the journey. For years I was that girl who put lose weight, get in shape, be happy on her New Year’s Resolutions list. (Note: I no longer make resolutions. I list goals.) What I didn’t realize was that I was making a life of fitness a chore with an end goal of weight loss. I realized that fitness can be fun. It’s a lifestyle, not something I have to do for 3 months and then stop. That is when I truly began to see the happiness in the process. I may still want all three of those things, but they are goals. I never stop loving the highs and the lows that have gotten me to my exact fitness level right now. I do however know that 2015 will be my strongest year yet. Remember that mental pep talk business; do it!!