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Every year, I make New Year’s resolutions and when I was younger, I would wrap up the end of the year by glancing back at my many failures: 10 pounds I had not lost, bad words I had continued to say, grades that never became a 4.0 average. It was—and is still for many people—the norm to forget one’s “resolutions” two weeks into the year.
About three years ago, I started thinking about my “resolutions” in a new way. What about, instead of making “resolutions,” what if I set a list of goals for each year? And in those three years, I have seen a shift. In 2008, I accomplished 90 percent of the goals I set. In 2009, I am about at the same pace.
It is easy. Each year, I lay out five personal goals I want to meet and five professional ones. I pick publications I want to be published in, subjects I want to write about and running times I would like to see. They are tangible. I can take steps to get there. And it works.
This year I have running goals. Here they are:
1.) I want to qualify for the 2011 Boston Marathon on May 2, 2010.
2.) I want to run a half marathon in under 1:40.
3.) I want to get my 5k time below 22 minutes, preferably even below 21.
4.) I want to find a new and different race for the fall (if I have qualified for Boston) that will challenge me in new ways.
5.) I want to stretch better, ice and recover better and rest when I need it.
So there it is. I can see the steps I need to take to meet each goal. More speed training, definitely more hill repeats if I plan to qualify and most importantly focus. I need to eat a more balanced diet, tailored to my running. And I need to lose 10 pounds.
(The fact is, in racing, every little pound counts. Yes, you can plod a marathon with some extra flab, but you can’t run it. And I need to run. Of course dieting and running rarely mix, so the plan is to find a way to incorporate weight loss without compromising nutrition.)
I also need to scout out interesting fall races. I know there is a half marathon trail run somewhere in New England I am interested to try. If I have already qualified for Boston in the Spring, then I will try some trail running over the summer to train for that. Or maybe I will find a fall race in an interesting location and we can take a family trip to run it.
We’ll see. The goals I have listed are absolutely in order. If number one does not happen, I will not move onto number two until number one is done. This is the plan that works for me. And I am so excited to see what 2010 brings. So, let’s get to it.
Happy new year. May you all meet your own goals as well.
Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer, a mother and an unabashed, unashamed runaholic. Check her progress each week as she trains to qualify for the Boston Marathon.