“In 2018, I want to…”

Most of us start off the new year by making resolutions to do this, get better at that, or quit something once and for all. These little promises we make to ourselves are easily broken without strong internal fortitude combined with some outside support (or nagging, pressure, incentives, etc.). Some of us really need that strong outside force to provide the constant reinforcement why you're putting yourself through the misery, just ask my wife how she got me to quit smoking back in December 2000! Many folks will join a gym to guilt themselves into attending due to to the recurring monthly expense. Others may be able to set a reasonable goal such as running 5 miles non-stop by July, losing 5 pounds by March 1st, or eating kale once a week and stick to it all year – but we can all admit that having the resolve to follow-through on those goals is a big challenge for anyone even slightly lacking in self-discipline, myself included.

I know I'm not in the minority when I recommend that the “magic bullet” that will allow you to stick to your 2018 plan is to have a great combination of all of the above – plus adding in supportive friends who can participate along with you in achieving your goals… can you guess what it is?

Signing up for a race now. Seriously, do it.

Let your calendar guide you to your 2018 goals

When you put that event on the calendar, suddenly you have a finite amount of time to set your plan, coordinate your resources, and get your ass in gear to get the hard work done. Does it make it any easier? heeeell no, of course not. That mark on the refrigerator or iCal meeting on your smartphone is a pact between you and that date to put in the effort to get from where you are now to where you want to be by that date. (right?)

Photo: Warrior Dash

Support for Success

We know all of the barriers by now, right? Excuses borne from insufficient willpower, falling off the wagon before you even start because one more piece of that amazing pecan pie that Veronica Coope hand-made for you and your family over the holidays with fresh pecans from her father's tree in New Mexico is just sitting there in your refrigerator mocking you every time you open it to grab something healthy like a piece of celery or carrot stick. It's just mocking you there with is sweet and tangy filling and flaky crust; ever so sweetly reminding you that it would only take a second to cut a slice – look, the knife is right over there – or plunge a fork in for just one bite and no one will ever know… I'm sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, the pitfalls that lead to failure, and how we all have them surrounding us daily. Let's face it, change is hard, and human nature is to avoid hard when there's an easier solution, that's what makes sticking to your guns and knocking off a goal so much more incredible of an achievement!

Here are a few sure-fire ways to improve your chances of successfully hitting the mark in 2018:

  • Choose an event to register for that's only 2-3 months away. This is just enough time to start NOW, get into a new routine and make some significant improvements, but not long enough for you to put off your training because it's sooo far away. Once you knock out this race, there's still like 1000 others you can sign up for next!
  • Make your goal reasonable and achievable for you. Yes, it would be absofrickin-lutely awesome for you to be on the podium at that race, but if you were 253rd last year at the same event and you want “this to be your year” you may be biting off more than you can chew. Setting a goal of “breaking into the top 100” may be much more reasonable, maybe last year you were dealing with an injury or ate too much pecan pie… dammit, I'm done talking about the pie, I promise.
  • Pick an event that means something to you. My first marathon was one of my favorites, and 25+ marathons later I still want to go back and run the Outer Banks Marathon again. Now, I've run the Rock & Roll Marathon here in AZ for the past 8 or so years, and while I love it, I'd personally much rather head back to North Carolina and nail a PR at OBX because of the fond memories, running with friends, and the excitement of my first 26.2.
  • Bring a friend, hire a trainer, or both. While your calendar may provide the ongoing reminder that you're committed to reaching your goal, nothing will get you off your ass for a run faster than a training partner meeting you at 6am. While trainers are an absolutely invaluable resource, you're paying them for a service and you can still pretty much call the shots when it comes right down to it. Nothing beats a friend that'll call you on your total bs excuses, especially when their training is negatively affected by you showing up late or blowing off the session altogether. Misery loves company, so if you're going to set yourself up for a challenge, drag a friend you can trust and work to each other's strengths – if they are a morning person, make them accountable to make the extra 10 minute drive to meet you. If you're better on the hills, carry their water bottle during those stretches. Training partners are a relationship that requires plenty of support as well as give and take, if you're prone to making excuses then I suggest you choose a partner that'll hold you to your commitments.
  • Plan your training. “What are we going to do today” usually leads to a session in the gym or a run where you revert to the things you like to do – not the harder things you need to do to improve. If you gave me the opportunity for intense hill repeats or a long trail run, I'd choose the latter every time, even though the hill work would pay more dividends on race day. There are so many resources online to choose from depending on your goals and fitness levels; I wrote up a pretty simple free one to get started last week, we have a Mud Run Guide Free Training Program that has been around since 2012 (author's note: I need to do some updates to it!), and we've got a resource on training, coaching, gyms, and more.
  • Get some insight from others' lessons. Over the past week we've run some articles that may help you wrap your mind around planning a successful 2018 while avoiding some of the pitfalls the tank resolutions each year:

Photo: Warrior Dash

First, Fastest, Farthest, & Funnest: My Recommendations

Below is my totally biased list with the recommendations I give folks when they foolish ask me about OCR's. Most are never-evers, some are newbies, and occasionally I'll get a honest request from insight from an athlete who's looking to change thing up.

First OCR – Bring on the Newbies!

The only way the sport of OCR will thrive for years to come is if we continue to bring new blood into the sport; bring your kids when possible, drag your boyfriend, Edna from Accounting… whoever you can. Entry-level events are some of the most fun I've had in the sport due to the atmosphere and excitement of first-timers earning their (mud) stripes, and the relatively laid-back nature of what are for the most part non-competitive events.

(in no particular order)

  • The 5k Foam Fest – A great mix of inflatables, mud, foam, fun, etc. 5kFF is a party, not a race.
  • Rugged Maniac – A 5k run packed with tons of obstacles – some more challenging than others – while RM is great for beginners, it's still a fun challenge for athletes of all levels.
  • Warrior Dash – Always a crowd-pleaser for newbies and more experienced athletes alike, WD is a great cross-over from road running and is perfect for groups of first-timers to experience the sport of OCR together. Throw in an awesome festival and beer, we've got a winner!
  • Terrain Racing – While Terrain has been around for a while, in '17 they exploded all over the USA and are nearly doubling their locations in 2018. A good mix of challenges of all sizes and competitive prizes makes Terrain a must-do for seasonedOCR enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Part II is coming right here next week with some longer-race recommendations, training to get faster, and some of the most fun events you can participate in!

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