So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Resolved to Not Resolve

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." - Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader (1869-1948)

What a royal pain in the butt.

We persist in making resolutions: Tell them to our friends once we're over-served on New Years' Eve, then hit the roads & gymnasiums throughout January (much to the chagrin of the year-round exerciser). The worst part of resolution-making, especially to the resolution-hearer (or the year-round exerciser), is knowing most resolutions are dead & gone by the end of February, traditionally buried in an empty Russell Stover chocolate box.

I'm glad I'm not alone in this sentiment. And, as always, great minds think alike. My friend & coaching sanity check person Pat McCrann went into a little deeper detail with his blog in Marathon Nation (http://www.marathonnation.us/long-run/top-four-ways-to-make-new-years-running-resolutions-that-stick), & with his Fueling the Endurance Lifestyle (www.patrickjohnmccrann.com/lifestyle/inverted-goal-chasing-choose-to-be-a-fear-dom-fighter) blog, posted 29 December. Fortunately, he didn't steal my thunder so much as provide a congruent perspective.

I'm not saying there aren't things we can improve in our lives; far from it. But the desire to improve something has to be joined with a specific plan of action. If I say (heaven knows I won't!) "I want to run more this year," or "I want to be a better runner this year," what am I going to do?

Hold myself accountable to a group of people: I can join with a local training group, or a running club affiliated with a national running organization, like the Road Runners Club of America (http://www.rrca.org/). Some RRCA clubs not only have social runs, but training groups & programs administered by certified, experienced running coaches. As a (USA Track and Field) certified coach, I've worked with (and serve as sanity check to) several RRCA coaches; the overwhelming majority of them are distance-runner savvy & passionate about their craft.

Accountability doesn't have to be face-to-face: A dozen runners who used to talk in the Runners' World Letters & Opinions forum slowly evolved into an ad-hoc e-mail network. As time progressed the group moved from e-mail to the social media, & meet up in ones-and-twos when business interests or holidays permit. Some of my closest running friendships have developed in the same way. I have a six-month membership with Marathon Nation, which includes access to on-line forums & a weekly chat session. It's great to have a platform from which to sound your accomplishments or voice your concerns. You only have to find the "neighborhood" which fits your specific needs.

Get a different, fresh, perspective on running: Change can be a good thing. This can be a change in distance from long-to-short races, from competitive road races to "fat-ass" unscored events, road-to-trail runs, or (something Suzanne & I have done) add a certain level of frivolity. Hare & hounds runs & hash house harrier groups, "groups with a running problem," vary in focus from "family-friendly" to "beyond-PG-13" in their approach. Just like any social organization, the personalities in these groups vary in looseness, as well as pace; iron-distance triathletes can be cheek-by-jowl with walk/run fans. A sense of humor, & perhaps an older pair of shoes, are the best credentials to bring with you.

A bit of surprise doesn't hurt, either: Runners can easily get into a rut of doing the same run/course/intensity on a particular day. I downloaded a workout application, RunRoulette, onto my iPod Touch earlier in the autumn. If I ever get too bored with a workout cycle I can punch the application & get one of forty possible runs in five different categories: Endurance, Hills, Mystery, Speed Work, & Tempo. The Lite version is free - less expensive than a fitness club membership the resolutionist will use for a month.

So, this coming year, resolve to NOT make a resolution. Instead, do things...or do them a little differently...or do them with a few others.

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