If you live in the Western Hemisphere you're probably familiar with the tradition of setting New Year's Resolutions.
The most common New Year's Resolutions are:
1. Lose Weight
2. Exercise More
3. Get Organized
I agree with all three of these resolutions. I want to lose weight after the holiday feasting season. I want to exercise more to reach my goal of running a marathon. And, I want to get organized and reduce the rest of the clutter in my home.
The problem with resolutions is they're easy to ignore after a few days or weeks if they don't become HABITS. So, this year I'm resolving to create strong habits to improve my regular and running life.
How to Succeed at a New Habit
Author and Habit Journal creator, James Clear suggests the best way to build a new habit is to start with a teeny, tiny goal. This strategy is backed up by research done at Duke University.
Below is a quick recap of Clear's How to Build a Habit Guide. You can read his book, Atomic Habits for a deep dive.
1. Start with an Very Small Habit
Make your goal so small you can't fail. For wannabe runners: Start with a walk around the block, not running a mile.
2. Increase Your Habit in Small Ways
Habits, like building increased running mileage, should be gradual. If you increase your habit by 1% on a regular schedule, it will add up fast.
Adding one city block to your walk/run each day is easy. After a week, you'll be moving 7 more blocks! That's a great result for a small daily increase.
3. As You Build, Break Your Habit into Chunks
Okay, as you add little bits of mileage, you'll soon be walking/running far. Clear suggests you can stay engaged by breaking your habit into parts. For example, instead of walking for an hour break it into two 30-minute walks. Stroll in the morning and again in the evening.
For sweaty workouts like running and power walking it may work best to set a weekly goal. Then, break your mileage or time goal into smaller pieces you accomplish over 7 days.
4. When You Slip, Get Back on Track Fast
If you miss a day (or week) don't abandon your goal. Simply start again when and where you are. Life is too unpredictable to be harsh with yourself over missed workouts.
5. Be Patient. Keep a Pace You Can Sustain.
It's hard to be patient when you want to lose weight, run faster, or complete any goal. Real success comes with consistent efforts. The trick is to set a realistic starting point and goal.
No one gets up one day and runs a great marathon. It takes a long time to prepare. It starts with a running habit that grows to a long distance over time. Start where you are and build on it.
Training includes good days, bad days, hard days, and easy days — all those days get you to the finish line.
I'm Kicking Off My 2021 Habit
It makes me nervous to say this out loud, but my resolution, goal, habit, dream is to run a marathon sometime in the next year or so. It's a long-term goal I plan to achieve by improving my running habit.
I don't expect many in-person races until late in 2021 which makes it the perfect time to train for a marathon. My plan is to re-start at the beginning.
I'll follow a series of training plans. I'll begin with a 5K, then a 10K, then a half, and then a marathon. That will get me to the end of the 2021 in a slow-growing, methodical way.
Setting Goals Along the Way
My hope is that in-person races can resume by Fall. Based on that, I've scheduled the following events to keep me on track with my goal and habit.
Cheers to Your New 2021 Habits
That's my plan for 2021. Cheers to everyone out there who has their own goal for 2021. I wish you success all along the way. Happy New Year!
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