Looking for a new challenge for 2017? Here are some ideas for running-related goals that will keep you motivated all year long.
1. Set a new PR.
Trying to beat your personal record at a specific race distance is always a fun and motivating challenge. Of course, once you reach a certain age, beating a PR from your younger years can be completely unrealistic. So focus on creating new challenges, such as decade PRs, where you try to beat your personal best in that distance during the last ten years. Or, if you reached a milestone or had a life-changing event, like having a baby, try to beat your best time since that event. Get tips on how to improve your speed.
2. Try a new distance.
Running the same race distance over and over can get monotonous and boring. Add a little variety this year by finding some new races at different distances, and maybe even branching out and doing a trail race or a relay race. You may even want to think about checking a specific dream destination race off your bucket list.
3. Mentor a new runner.
Starting a new running habit can be intimidating and feel overwhelming, so it always helps when a friend or family member is willing to offer guidance, advice, and support. If you have a family member or friend who’s expressed an interest in running, ask her if she’d like to join you for a run (at her pace) or needs help shopping for running shoes and gear. You might be surprised at how helping a newbie get started also improves your own motivation to run.
Also see: 5 Ways to Help Beginner Runners
4. Run for a cause.
Whether you want to help fight cancer, prevent animal cruelty, or support another cause, there are hundreds of organizations that organize races or offer training to help raise awareness or funds. Some of the biggest race series and training programs include the Komen Race for a Cure, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, and the American Cancer Society’s DeteriNation. Pick your favorite cause and search their website to find out if and when they have races.
Also see: 13 Fundraising Tips for Charity Runners
5. Avoid being sidelined with running injuries.
This is a tricky one because, of course, no one wants to get injured, but injuries inevitably happen. However, there are plenty of proactive steps you can take to injury-proof yourself. Focus on avoiding common injury-causing habits such as doing too much too soon, not wearing the right running shoes, not strength-training, and not taking rest days when you’re feeling pain.
6. Be a social runner.
Running with others is usually much more fun and motivating than going solo. Join a running club or charity team, or organize your own regular running group with friends and family members.
7. Volunteer at a race.
Volunteering at a race is a great way to give back to the running community and experience the fun, excitement, and motivation of a race (without the performance anxiety!). Volunteers typically help with registration, crowd control, passing out water, or the much-coveted job of placing medals around finishers’ necks. If you’ve never run a road race before, volunteering is an excellent way to get your feet wet before you take the plunge and sign up for a race. And runners can also save money by volunteering at races because many races usually give their volunteers incentives, such as free race registration or running gear.
Race directors are always looking for people willing to donate time. To get involved with a local road race, contact your local road runners club. Or, if you want to volunteer for a big event, such as a marathon, check out the volunteer opportunities section on the race’s web site. Seeing the smiles of appreciation and gratitude from runners will definitely make it worth your time and get you motivated to train for your next race.