At this point, I’m sure you’ve read approximately 1,000,000 posts about New Year’s Resolutions and new goals for 2017.  I’m also sure that you’ve made your own resolutions.

Every year, on December 26th, after gorging myself on Christmas breakfast, lunch, dinner & dessert, I lay on the couch filled with regret about eating that second plate of pie or that 3rd scoop of adult mac & cheese (5 Cheese Penne for those not familiar with the Yole traditions).  I make deals with myself about how next year, I’m going to do all of these fantastic things– I’m going to push myself farther than ever before.  Usually, one year later I’m sitting in the same spot, with the same stomach pangs of that 2nd plate of pie, disappointed with how I didn’t complete my (in all reality, impossible) goals.

At a certain point it becomes frustrating creating my own and listening to others’ empty promises of grandeur.  “New Year, New Me” is a concept many individuals (including myself) preach, but struggle to maintain.  The reality is, creating these drastic expectations may seem like a good idea at the time, but in the long run can set you up for failure and disappointment.  Thus, achieving the exact opposite of what you were trying to do by creating these goals in the first place.

While I’m standing here on my soapbox, preaching negativity about New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t want you to think that I don’t believe in setting goals and challenging yourself.  The point is to have realistic expectations.  It’s crucial to not only focus on a new and improved you, but also to reflect on what you’ve accomplished in the previous year.  Use that growth (or lack of growth) as a spring board and motivation for a new year of bigger and better things!   Instead of sitting on the couch as I’ve done in previous years, I spent the first few weeks of 2017 truly reflecting on 2016 and what I accomplished.  I’ve made personal/relationship goals (that of which if you’re my friend, you know what they are), professional goals and of course, the reason we’re all here – fitness goals.

2016 left me a bit confused and with many mixed emotions.  It truly was the busiest and most significant of my 27 years.   I made some extremely difficult decisions about people in my life and fought through a few injuries that I thought would debilitate me.  There was a certain political decision the people of this country made that can have a huge impact on my lifestyle and the lifestyle of many other Americans.  However, I can’t help the grin that sneaks onto my face when I think back on the year.  I traveled more and started writing again.  I witnessed some of my best friends get married and saw that real and true love is out there.  I made strides at work with a promotion & raise.   I made a commitment to travel to Europe for 2 ½ weeks and gained a certain amount of self-confidence I never thought I’d achieve.

However, the most important contribution of 2016 was that I fell in love with running all over again.  I beat my half marathon personal record by close to 6 minutes, ran over 150 miles in a month and not to mention, completed a full marathon in a respectable time.  I became a better, stronger runner.  I lost weight and became a healthier person as a whole.  Reflecting on 2016 made me realize how much I can do.  While I was busier and traveling more than ever, I also made huge strides and accomplished so much physically.  By setting realistic goals for 2016, I pushed myself because I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  When there is no end in sight, it’s harder to motivate on a daily or weekly basis.  The result was a successful year, with many positive things to carry into another year.

So… where does that leave me for 2017?  I have 4 very specific fitness goals.  A couple of which are going to be difficult, very difficult.

  • Become a better athlete.  2016 made me a better runner.  I’d like to take that growth and start to apply it to the gym.  Twice a week I want to be in the gym, lifting weights and getting stronger.
  • Cut my half marathon time to 1 hour and 40 minutes.  It’s getting increasingly hard for me to get faster.  I need to get out on the track at least once a week, starting in March.   Adding hills to my long runs will also be a huge help.  Cutting 3 minutes off an already fast time isn’t going to be easy!
  • Run at least 100 miles every month in 2017
  • Run my second marathon in Philadelphia on November 20th and try to cut my time.
    • On October 9th, 2016 I finished the Newport Marathon in 3 hours and 53 minutes.
    • This is a big goal because I’m going to be in Europe from August 23rd-September 8th in which case, I won’t be able to train.

I hope you have your own goals and “resolutions” for this year and I hope they’re not arbitrary and unrelated to you and your previous individual growth.  I also hope that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to complete these goals in full.   The whole point of resolutions is to improve and lead a better quality of life.  So ENJOY it!  Enjoy the challenges and enjoy everyday.  The added pressure you feel can motivate you, but can also debilitate you– Don’t let that happen!  Make it fun and make it exciting.  Crossing that finish line and realizing that you’ve accomplished what you wanted to achieve is one of the best feelings imaginable, but looking back on the journey and realizing the person you’ve become and the people standing beside you is an even better feeling than you can imagine!