Is It Time to Reassess Your Running Goals?

At least once a year--and January is a great time to do this--you should set aside a few days to reassess your personal running vision.

Following are some ideas to help you do this.

1. Keep the good. If it is important that your runs be enjoyable, plan to do lots of scenic runs, fun runs and group runs. If racing is what really gives you pleasure and satisfaction, get out the calendar and mark some races down.

2. Think ahead. Visualize how you want your running to be going in two years, three years, five or 10 years. Do you plan to be five pounds slimmer in a year? Maybe you see your energy level climbing each year? You can make it happen. By establishing a set of behavioral expectations now, you're setting the process in motion.

3. Release the pressure. Consider doing at least one run each week that is not constrained by time, distance or pace. Invariably, these factors activate negative, right-brain responses. Also, run very slowly when you start. Remember that most of the endurance and mental benefits running provides come from the distance, not the speed.

4. Go for "interaction." In the coming year, try to set aside runs in which you make a conscious effort to interact more with your environment. Engage with the scenery along the route, contemplate the beautiful colors of the sunset or the sunrise.

5. Be a groupie. Running clubs are everywhere, and most (if not all) are inclusive, fun-oriented, nonthreatening and geared toward socializing. Getting together for a group run once a week allows you to keep in touch with friends and meet new ones. And on those cold/hot/sleepy/low-motivation days, you'll be pulled out there by the group's energy.

6. Find the right goals. A significant challenge such as a marathon can help you pull body, mind and spirit together. Lots of good things begin to happen. For example, you'll probably find it easier to control your weight, eat better and get proper rest during these more focused periods.

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