Imagine standing at the starting line of your goal race, filled with nervous energy and fiery anticipation.

Excitement, doubt, adrenaline, all pumping through your veins. There’s nothing like it.

Now imagine standing at the same starting line, feeling those same nerves, only the guy next to you gets to start 38 days early.


You’re forced to sit around, put on “holiday weight,” and ruin all your healthy habits…

And let that other guy get a major head start.

That’s basically what happens every time someone sets a new year’s resolution, only to let weeks go by with no action.

“I’ll get back in shape in the new year.”

“I’ll start training for my dream race once things settle down after Christmas.”

“I’ll wait until I’m less busy to get back into a regular running habit.”

By the time January comes around, you’ve wasted all this time.

What if instead, you started right now? (Actually, on Friday, but more on that later.)

What if you could get a jump-start on everyone else and start building a solid training foundation throughout the remainder of this year?

Well, you’d be the one taking off early.

Introducing the 2.018 Challenge

Last week I proposed a Thanksgiving to New Years challenge to Next Level Runner members and asked them for advice on what type of challenge they would find the most helpful. Several ideas were passed around — from elevation to speed and everything in between — but what stood out most was a need to rebuild or maintain consistency throughout the holidays.

To use the holidays to your advantage. Not your detriment.

I freaking love the holidays. I love seeing friends and family, drinking (lots of) red wine, and sitting beside the tree. But — like many of you — holidays are tough on my training. I get lazy, or busy, and end up skipping more runs than I actually get in.

So here’s the plan:

This year, let’s do something different. Let’s complete a manageable run streak from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, getting a jump-start on our 2018 goals and establishing the routines and habits that will set us up for success.

And just because it’s fun, let’s make the daily mileage minimum 2.018 (or since most GPS watches don’t go to the third decimal, 2.02 miles) miles per day.

38 days of at least 2.018 miles per day.

Of course you can always run farther, but by simply getting out for 15 or 20 minutes each day, you’ll be laying a foundation, establishing habits, and getting a head start on your 2018 goals when most people are sitting around feeling stuck.

What do you say, will you join me in the 2.018 challenge?

Let me know here with #2point018challenge.

See you on the trail,


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 “The 2.018 Challenge – Get a Head Start on Your Goals

  1. I’m not usually a streaker–too many long days. But now I have a treadmill and can run or walk 2 miles in the a.m. or the last 20 minutes of the day, if I have to. I’m in!

  2. My training schedule is usually 3 or 4 times per week with one long run every other weekend. What are the benefits of running every day?

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