Corsa in montagna

It’s here! Or it’s almost here, at least. 2015 is just around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Sure, January 1st might be an arbitrary date when it comes to goal setting and resolutions, but I love having a day each year where I can at least pretend like I’m starting fresh. It’s a pre-set opportunity to reflect on the past year and make actionable plans for the next.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve already been busy making goals for the coming year. I have 100k and 100 mile race goals, goals for building my business, and goals for my wife and I to truly connect to our new town.

Here on Rock Creek Runner, one of our goals is to incorporate a fresh new, year-long theme that will drive everything we do on the site in 2015. What theme, you ask?

I’m calling it “A year of smart running choices.”

I want you (yes, I’m talking to you!) to join me in dedicating the year to making smart choices.

  • Smart choices with our training.
  • Smart choices with our racing.
  • Smart choices with our how we approach injuries and injury prevention.

Smart choices when it comes to every aspect of our running and training.

To prime us for a year of smart choices, I’ve put together a quick list of 15 easy choices we can start making today. By just incorporating a few from this list, you can kick off 2015 a smarter runner.

15 Smart Ways to Be A Better Runner

1) Embrace the Community

Community might just end up being the best training tool you have.

  • Join a local running group or club
  • Reach out to fellow trail runners to discover new trails
  • Find a regular running partner, and make sure to keep them happy

2) Set an “A” Race and Train Like Hell

Part of designing a smart running season is having a focal race to work towards the entire time. All secondary races will feed into that main A race goal. Check out my Trail Talk video on the subject here.

3) Start Doing the Strength Training You’ve Been Avoiding

I hate it, you probably hate it, but we both know that we have to do it. Quit skipping the post run strength and core routines and drills that help us grow stronger and prevent injury.

4) Train for and Run an Ultramarathon

Need a new challenge? Maybe just an excuse to build an enormous base? Run an ultra. It’ll change your life. Here are a few tips on how to get started:

5) Run Trails

It doesn’t matter if you live deep in the mountains or on a busy city block, most runners can find trails in their area without much trouble. Why is it a smart choice? For starters, trail running prevents injuries. But that’s just one reason. Here’s 42 more.

6) Treat Yourself to New Gear

Sometimes all you need is a new pair of sneakers or a sweet new GPS to get the motivation up and running. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to new gear from time to time. If you aren’t sure what to get, start with this guide of essential gear for all trail runners.

7) Hire A Coach

No matter how experienced you are, sometimes you just need a fresh pair of eyes to examine your training, offer new techniques, and push you in ways you couldn’t push yourself.

Shameless plug here: If you’re looking for a coach, RCR offers a number of options.

8) Foam Roll Religiously

In my opinion, the single best thing a runner can do to recover smarter is to self massage. Foam roll or use your stick, it doesn’t matter to me, just do it.

9) Start Tracking Your Runs Every Day

Keeping a training log (and no, simply uploading your GPS data doesn’t count) is such a simple routine that can have a major impact on your training. Not convinced? Maybe this will help.

10) Focus on Your Breath

What if I were to tell you that how you breathe can lead to knee and hip injuries. Crazy right? Turns out it’s true.

I’ve been using Budd Coates’ technique for the past few months, and love what it has done to my stride.

11) Build A Strong Support Network to Help You Reach Your Goals

The tougher our goals get, the more likely we are to fail without support from family and friends. And also the more likely you are to piss them off if you don’t build that support ahead of time. Be smart about how you approach and build your support network. It’s a priceless tool.

12) Be Vulnerable

I’ve said it before, I love feeling vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable means I’m about to embark on something epic. If I succeed or fail, it doesn’t really matter. I put yourself out there.

When it comes to running, we need to feel vulnerable more often. Take chances and register for new races. Step out of your comfort zone and train with a new group. Whatever it may be, don’t be afraid of vulnerability.

13) Run Shorter Distance Races

Distance runners get caught up in distances. I know it happens to me all the time. I want to run long, I don’t want waste my time with the shorter stuff. But throughout 2014, I put that feeling aside and challenged myself with a few shorter distance races.

Learning a lot in the process.

14) Measure Your Training

I talked about tracking your training in #9, but measuring your strengths and weaknesses is different. Develop a base route to test yourself against regularly.

photo15) Have Fun!

This is maybe the most important one of all! No matter how hard you work, if you aren’t having fun it’s going to be hard to keep moving forward. Never forget why it is you’re out there, and have fun in the process.

It’s Time to Take Action

Most of the choices from this list are easy. Easy enough that brushing them aside to consider for later might be tempting. But January 1st is just around the corner, and your running goals don’t care if you believe in New Years resolutions or not.

They’re waiting on you to start taking smart steps that will help you be a better runner.

Pick a few choices from this list and start taking action today. Let’s bring in the new year by making smarter choices together.

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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2 thoughts on “15 Ways to Make 2015 Your Smartest Year of Running Yet

  1. I’m not a big one for foam rolling and would probably replace that on the list with being more diligent with a warm up (running is not a warm up for running), but your list is spot on.

    #13 has been huge for me, I’m taking a ~5 year break from ultras to get faster at the shorter races before I move back up in distances 🙂 The faster you can run 5k, the faster you’ll be at 50k.

    1. Hey Kyle, I’m a big fan of the foam roller, so I wouldn’t replace that, but being more diligent with a warm up is a great one! Deserves to be on the list for sure. Good idea!

      Good luck with the 5ks! I’m sure all that work will pay off when you move back up in distance.

      Thanks for reading. – Doug

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