'Tis the season for holiday celebrations, chilly runs and reflections on the year that's about to end. Whether or not you achieved your 2013 goals, knowing what you have accomplished this year can help you choose what to shoot for in 2014.
The new year—and the motivation boost that comes with it—is just around the corner, and having a goal in mind before January 1 will ensure that you hit the ground running. (Follow the Runner's World Monthly Fitness Training Plan to get stronger and faster all year long.)
This Year: Ran Occasionally
Next Year: Run Regularly
When you don't feel like running, it's easy to say, "I'll go tomorrow." Become more consistent by scheduling four runs each week: one hilly day, one speedwork day, one easy day, and on the weekend, a long run or race. If you still struggle, tell yourself: "I'll just go for 10 minutes." Once you start, you'll likely want to continue. (Here are the 4 tips guaranteed to make running a habit that sticks.)
This Year: Finished a Color Run
Next Year: Run a 5K
A themed event without the stress of a clock can be fun, but many races are just as friendly and upbeat. Plus, once you've earned a finishing time, it's hard to resist trying to improve. Ask local running stores which 5Ks are well-organized and fun. On race day, line up near the back and move to the side of the road during walk breaks.
10 Most Popular Running Resolutions for more ideas on how to boost your fitness.
This Year: Finished Your First Race
Next Year: Run a Bit Faster
To get faster, you need long runs and speedwork. Every other week, do a long, slow run, working up to 2 to 3 miles beyond race distance. For speed, try this track workout weekly: Run a lap comfortably. Then run a lap 10 seconds faster, then walk a lap. Start with four fast laps, and build to 10 to 14 before your race. (Incorporate these 5 Moves That Make You Faster into your training regimen for ultimate results.)
This Year: Ran a Personal Best
Next Year: Tackle a Longer Distance
Focus on lengthening your long runs. Do them weekly, at a comfortable pace. Every other week, increase the distance 1 to 2 miles, until you're running at least 10 miles (if you're targeting a half marathon) or 20 miles (for a marathon). The rest of the week, do at least three runs of at least 30 minutes each at any pace you'd like.