So here we are, firmly entrenched into 2017 – Happy New Year, by the way – and of course the topic of many conversations turns to New Year’s resolutions.

According to a University of Scranton study, 45 percent of us usually set some sort of resolution, with the two most popular being losing weight and getting organized. Seventeen percent of people infrequently make resolutions, while 38 percent never do.

The study also concluded that eight percent of those who set resolutions achieve them, but setting a resolution makes us 10 times more likely to achieve something as opposed to people who don’t explicitly set any in the first place.

While I never set any myself, I do find those numbers intriguing. In the end, it appears to me that the best resolutions are ones that we can actually achieve, and look forward to doing so.

How can you set resolutions in your running life that are not only fun, but rewarding and achievable? Here are a few ideas:

  • Do something you have “always wanted to do.” We all have a couple of running-related activities we’ve always thought about doing, but just never have, like running a relay race, running a theme race, or even traveling somewhere to that destination race that has always been on our list. Or it might be something different, like going to a race that offers a 5K and 10K and running them back-to-back. It can be anything like that, just make sure to do it this year.
  • Run for a charity. I ran the 2013 Chicago Marathon for the American Cancer Society, and I will be running Chicago this year for Cal’s Angels, a wonderful local charity that helps kids with cancer and their families. I’ve found that running for a charity is a wonderful experience and is a great way to use my running to give back. If raising a lot of money is intimidating, choose a race of your own, gather some donations and forward the funds on personally. Every little bit helps!
  • Go old school. No, I’m not talking about streaking through the quad into the gymnasium, just take a trip back in time. As hard as it might be to believe, runners weren’t always connected to a phone on our arm and a bunch of asynchronous satellites tracking our every move, they just laced up and ran. Try disconnecting once a week and just enjoying the rhythm of a “solo” run.
  • Learn about the heroes our sport. The history of our sport is both incredible and inspiring, and the more we can learn about the people who have paved the way to where we are today, the more we can have an appreciation for the sport of running. While everyone reading this probably knows about people like Meb Keflezighi, Deena Kastor, Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit-Samuelson, there are so many others that are part of the lore of the sport. Read up on people like Billy Mills, Emil Zatopek, Paavo Nurmi and Glenn Cunningham, who were all the superstars of their time and all have inspiring stories that can inspire us in our lives, both on and off the trails and roads.
  • Volunteer. Time is our most precious asset, and giving of our time is one of the most selfless things we can do. Volunteer your time for a cause, whether it be handing out water at a race or pre-race packet pickup. Even better, give your time and talent to the next generation of runners by acting as a volunteer assistant for a local youth club team or middle school or high school program. Most organizations would be thrilled to have the extra help!

I think we sometimes get caught up in the New Year’s resolution thing by feeling like they have to involve some sort of life-altering plan, when really, by definition, it’s just a “decision or determination” to do something.

Sure, we can make resolutions to run so many races or miles this year, and that’s great. But at the same time, resolving to grow while participating in our favorite sport makes us better people. We can do that by getting out of our comfort zones and trying something new or giving back to the sport that has given us so much. Those are the kinds of resolutions that will keep us going all year and allow us to make an impact on ourselves and those around us all through this year and beyond.

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful 2017.


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