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New Year, New Training: How to Tell If It’s Time for a Change

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It’s pretty easy to get a bit arrogant and possibly even gloat a little when you hear people talk about their New Year’s resolutions to start an exercise program or lose a bunch of weight. While many of us are guilty of having a few pounds to lose every now or then, in general runners aren’t looking to lose a substantial amount of weight. Along that thread, many runners are not looking to get into some new exercise routine or need any help in terms of motivation.

Yet, the thought might have crossed your mind that you are in a bit of a rut.  Then like a lot of us the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” line reigns supreme. What would happen if you do change ?  Truth: Change is not going to break “it.”  So how do you know if you should make changes to your training in the New Year?

You Hit a Big Goal This Year

If you hit a big goal this year, obviously the training you put in worked, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only kind that will work. It could be worth your time in the next few months and weeks after a race to try new methodology. There are a million marathon training plans and methods out there.  Some of the more famous are Hal Higgdon, Jeff Galloway and The Hanson Method to name a few.

Runners, while always keen to try most anything that will speed them up, tend to be loyal to a specific training theory. Not that there aren’t some dashes of other theories sprinkled in but usually the base is consistent. If you have a desire to try something new and you’re not aiming for something huge it might be fun to go all in on a new theory and see what happens. If a PR happens, then it was all worth it. If not, worst case you learned what not to do.

You Missed a Big Goal This Year

Missing a big goal can cause a runner to question almost everything in their life up to and including their existence as a runner and often that will encompass their training plan. Bad weather, sickness and cancelled flights can account for some issues when it comes to a less-than-successful race. Other times it’s the course, the day, nutrition or any other list of things.

Often when a runner misses a goal by just a little bit, not much is done to adjust training. Speed might be increased a bit or a few more miles added here to there. If there were a plethora of tiny reasons that added up to a miss, a complete workover of your training might be the meal ticket to figuring out answers on multiple issues.

You’ve Lost Interest

You are not going to be excited and engaged in every workout, everyday.  And some days are just out right bad. That’s normal but if underwhelmed seems to be a common thread, it might be time to start thinking about a change. This isn’t mid-cycle training mind games that can be fixed by changing up the time of day, reversing the order of events or going to a new location. This is where you might be wandering around aimlessly through your weekly runs, running “just to keep it up” or out of habit. If any of these ring true it might be time to flip your training game on its head.

You Need a Reset

Probably the biggest reason for anyone to start a new training regimen is a mental or physical reset. If every Tuesday morning is at the track for speed, 4 times a month, 52 weeks a year that can get really old from a motivation and excitement standpoint. And from a physical perspective, if the speed work is always done on well-rested legs because Monday was a rest day, then your body will become bored as well.  The interest alone in what will the results will be at the end of a new training cycle is enough to get you to lace up those running shoes on a less than stellar day when motivation is waning.

Life is Looming

As much as it pains most runners, sadly, running is not the epicenter of the universe. Our days and lives cannot solely revolve around it unless of course you are Shalene Flannagan. Life will sometimes jump in and sidetrack us. If we’re really lucky, we have fair warning like a nine month wait for a baby, the knowledge we’re starting a new job or a pre-approved cross country move. It might be worth getting a routine now that will work when those life events occur.

If you are running six days a week and you know it will be cut down to three (if you are lucky!), start figuring out some rock star workouts for those three days and get yourself a quick High Intensity Training routine or body weight strength training  you can do with only 10 minutes of time. Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to have more time to run, the new training goal could be to ease up on the schedule and allow new opportunities to unfold.

The good news is even if you decide to change your training schedule, you know you can quickly switch back to the way it worked before if you need to. But you never know, so why not take the New Year to try?


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