It’s a new year! Many of us will be happy to see the back of 2020, and even though some of last year’s problems will carry on into 2021, it’s natural to view a new year as an opportunity for renewal and rejuvenation. This applies to running, just as it does for other aspects of our lives.
January is the time of year when many people will take up running for the first time, lapsed runners return, and regular runners look ahead and think about what they would like to achieve. Regardless of where you fall on this running experience spectrum, here is our guide on how to kick start your new year of running.
Set a goal
It can be easy to let running drift a bit, without a goal to focus the mind. This is as true of experienced runners as it is of people starting running for the first time. Ordinarily, we’d recommend signing up for a race or event to give you something to focus on, but that’s still a little tricky in 2021 with coronavirus restrictions in many places.
Instead, think about what you would like to get out of your running this year and how you might achieve that. If you need some training advice on how to achieve that, our training pages are a good place to start.
It doesn’t have to be a performance related goal, related to a particular distance or speed. Your goals might be to run somewhere new, run with a dog, run up a big hill, have more fun – the possibilities are almost endless!
Write your goal down and use it to motivate yourself.
Big, ambitious goals are exciting, but they’re also hard to achieve and can take a long time to do so. It’s easy for motivation to slip along the way.
To keep yourself on track, set mini goals along the way. For example, if your goal is to knock 10 minutes off your 10K personal best time, remember to celebrate each minute you achieve along the way.
Or, if your goal is to complete Couch to 5K, remember to celebrate the end of each week – or even each day. Running can be hard, so celebrating success is important.
You’re in charge
Of course, it’s also worth remembering that the great thing about personal goals is that you’re in charge of them. If it’s no longer motivating you, or causing too much stress, or stopped being fun, then there’s no reason why you can’t scrap it and move on to a new goal. You are the boss of your running.
A great way to give yourself a goal for motivation is to sign up for a virtual challenge.
What is a virtual running challenge?
Virtual challenges, or virtual races, have gotten increasingly popular in recent years, especially since coronavirus wreaked havoc with the conventional running event calendar when races were cancelled or postponed.
The formats vary, but typically you will sign up to a virtual challenge related to a particular distance, such as a 10K or half marathon, for example. Then, you go out and run the distance in your own time, on a route of your choosing.
Once you’ve completed the challenge, you can claim a medal – either a digital badge for use on social media, or a physical medal you can hang around your neck and show off with pride.
You can find a virtual challenge for you, right here at Lonely Goat
We might be biased, but we reckon the best virtual challenges are the Lonely Goat Virtual Challenges supported by Wiggle. They’re available for the following distances:
- Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
- Marathon (26.2 miles)
- Ultramarathon (anything longer than a marathon)
- 50K in a month
- 100K in a month
- 150K in a month
They’re free to enter and we’ll send you an email with training advice to help you reach your goals. When you complete your challenge, you will get a digital Support Inspire Achieve medal, or you can upgrade to some bling you can wear by purchasing a physical medal to add to your collection.
For 2021, in addition to the support of the wonderful Lonely Goat Running Club community, you’ll also have the support of our friends at Wiggle, the world’s fitness store. Every runner who completes a challenge will be rewarded with a 15% Wiggle discount. Find out more here.
Do something different
Are you in a running slump, struggling to find your mojo? The New Year is a perfect opportunity to mix things up and try something different.
Doing the same kind of running, every time we go for a run, can get a little boring at times. To avoid this, try doing something different every now and then, by changing the:
- Terrain – road, trail, forest
- Distance – shorter or longer
- Location – discover a new route
- Speed – faster or slower
What do you enjoy?
Think about the most fun, most exciting runs that you’ve done. What was it that you enjoyed about them? The chances are that they stand out as they were different to your everyday runs, so can you inject a little bit of that fun into your regular running routine?
Sketch out the perfect run and see what you might be able to incorporate into your regular runs more often.
Fancy running (or doing some other physical activity) every day for the first month of the year? Signing up for RED January may be for you.
What is RED January?
RED January is a campaign to get people moving to benefit their own health and raise money for mental health charities, by being active every day during January.
It’s something many members of Lonely Goat Running Club choose to do. If you’ve seen it mentioned in our Facebook Chat Group, or on Instagram or Strava, but aren’t sure what it’s all about, here’s a short guide to RED January…
RED January is a way for people to motivate themselves to be active by setting a challenge to do some form of exercise each day for a whole month.
The name originally stood for ‘Run Every Day’ January. It was launched back in 2016 by Hannah Beecham, who was inspired after seeing the positive benefits that regular exercise had on her mum as she recovered from a period of severe depression.
It’s not just about running
It’s up to you what activity you do, be it run, cycle, walk, yoga, swim, or whatever you fancy! The goal is to be “active every day to beat the blues away.”
If you don’t fancy the idea of running every day for 31 days, you can keep the challenge going with whatever physical activity you want – just as long as you do something.
It’s free to take part, and participants are encouraged to raise money for RED January’s official charity partner. For 2021 this is Sport in Mind, the mental health charity that uses sport to empower and improve people’s lives.
For more information, visit the RED January website.
If you don’t think RED January is for you, but you like the idea of stringing together an exercise streak, why not make up your own personal, unofficial ‘RED’-style challenge?
For example, you could decide to do:
- Exercise every day for a week
- Walk every day for a fortnight
- Run every other day for a month
It’s entirely up to you what you choose to challenge yourself with. Putting a name to it, and maybe even marking it off on a calendar, can provide extra motivation to get moving. If you combine it with one of the Lonely Goat Virtual Challenges in partnership with Wiggle – such as running 50K in a month – then you can even get a medal at the end!
Not a fan of the wind and rain? Nervous about running outdoors? Treadmill running might be for you.
Won’t I get bored?
Compared to running outside, there is a lot less to look at if you’re running on a treadmill. It needn’t be boring though.
Lots of gyms have screens and audio systems so you can watch television programmes or listen to music. There’s also good ‘people-watching’ potential in a gym, too – assuming that coronavirus lockdown restrictions haven’t closed your gym!
The next level in treadmill running entertainment is Zwift Run, which we’re big fans of.
What is Zwift Run?
Zwift Run takes a solitary pursuit – running on a treadmill – and makes it sociable and interactive. It does this by using a footpod or treadmill sensor to measure your running speed. It then uses this data to control a virtual version of yourself as it runs through a virtual landscape alongside other Zwifters.
Run with others on Zwift Run
What we love most about Zwift Run is the ability to run and chat with others in the virtual Zwift environment – even if they live on the other side of the planet in the real world.
Join Lonely Goat for club runs on Zwift Run
Lonely Goat Running Club host two weekly club runs on Zwift Run.
On Monday mornings, at 09:15 UK time, you can join us for a 5K recovery run at an easy pace. It’s perfect for shaking out the legs after a weekend long run.
On Thursday evenings, at 18:00 UK time, we pick up the pace a little with a 30 minute progression run. Running at paces that suit you, start off easy, then gradually speed up until you’re running quicker. It’s a great way to introduce some faster running to your training.
How do I join Zwift Run?
A little bit of kit is needed, but once you’re set up it’s easy and free to get involved. You’ll need access to a treadmill, a mobile device to run the free Zwift Run app, and a footpod or treadmill sensor.
You can find out more information in our article here.
Run without tech
At the opposite end of the scale to Zwift Run, which involves electronic equipment and a massive virtual online world, running tech-free can reinvigorate your running.
Run by feel
If you find that worrying about distance or pace has taken some of the fun out of your running, consider going for a tech-free run. Leave your watch or phone at home, or don’t set them to record your run, head out of your door, and run by feel.
Run at whatever effort level you feel like that day, whether it’s fast or slow. It’s a great way to get better at listening to your body, without the distraction of a watch or phone telling you what you’re doing.
Get out there and enjoy yourself
No matter whether you’re brand new to running, or you’ve been running for a years, the new year can be a time to reset, reassess, and renew your running. We hope this article has given you some food for thought on how you can kick start your new year of running.
Running solo, but not alone
Lonely Goat Running Club members tend to be runners who run on their own, or find a conventional running club isn’t for them. But that doesn’t mean you’re on your own.
There’s a wonderful community of like-minded runners available should you need support or advice on how to kick start your new year of running. Just head over to our Facebook Chat Group, share your runs on Instagram, or get involved on Strava.
Thanks to Lonely Goat Running Club member, Laura Blakey, for the header photo of her running through the New Forest.