A few weeks ago, our friends Brynn and Sara from Finish Line PT came by to talk about how to set healthy, realistic goals for the year ahead. It was a great session with lots of useful information from the experts themselves. Didn't get a chance to attend? Read some of Sara's tips on how you can make the most of 2017 while staying healthy and injury-free.
Oh hey there, 2017! ‘Tis the season for setting goals, planning out race calendars and gearing up for your best year of training yet. As inspiring as it is to turn the page on a new year, it’s just as easy to get caught up in the excitement of a clean slate. And of course, seeing everyone else’s goals on social media doesn’t help. (FOMO, anyone?)
While having big training and race goals isn’t a bad thing, it is important to make sure your plans are realistic and set you up for success. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop and refine your 2017 calendar:
Recognize your own limitations.
Just because you could do a race every weekend doesn’t mean that you should. And even though everyone is training for an ultra, if the farthest you’ve ever run is a 5K, then 2017 might not be the year to make such a dramatic increase in distance.
Be honest with yourself about your capabilities. A new trend in running is the “race everything” mentality – but this is a misconception. While some athletes have the fitness and ability to do this without getting injured, most do not. There’s a reason most professional runners only race two marathons a year; “regular” runners like ourselves should not be the exception!
Set manageable goals.
Many athletes like to break up their race calendar into ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ events. An ‘A race’ is your top priority for the year; the structure of your training program is geared towards this event. The goal of a ‘B race’ is to still race hard and do well, but it is not one that you’ll taper for. Consider it a dress rehearsal for your A race. ‘C races’ support your training; they’re intended to be fun and done at a lower effort or with a specific purpose (i.e. to practice pacing or nutrition).
Select your A race and plan all other aspects of your training around it. If you enjoy doing weekend NYRR races as a way to cultivate community and stay motivated, that’s great! Just make sure you have a “why” for each race (it shouldn’t be to go as hard as you can every time). Is it to get the miles in? Practice running at race pace? Gain a better understanding of your nutrition strategy? Having a purpose in advance will help you manage your effort.
Prioritize rest and recovery.
Going hard all the time, in every workout and in every race can prevent you from seeing the fitness gains you’re working towards. It’s important to balance the hard efforts with workouts that are easier in order to build endurance and strength.
And it’s crucial to practice self-maintenance: foam rolling, dynamic stretching and soft tissue massage. All of these are forms of active recovery that help to increase circulation and break up soft tissue restrictions that cause pain and prevent us from being our best. Spending as little as 10 minutes a day can help expedite your recovery so that you’re consistently able to perform at a higher level.