HopePassPrayerFlags (1).jpg

How to Start Your Year off on a Healthy Note?

Many people view the new year as a chance to set new goals and create positive changes. What is the key ingredient to creating positive changes in our lives? Consistency. How do you maintain a consistent approach to training not just in January but throughout the entire year? Three things to consider: giving yourself a period of reflection, setting realistic goals, and identifying accountability partners.

Period of Reflection

The holiday season is a time of gift giving for most of us and one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is a period of honest reflection. Taking the time to analyze your past year is the first crucial step in helping you structure your approach to the year ahead.

This reflective process should first begin on a positive note with an identification of the year’s successes. Did you run some races this year? What were the outcomes? Where was the improvement? Pull up the results pages for that 5k you forgot you ran last March. Whether or not you set a PR, relish in the fact that you got out there and put in some work. If you use an online tool to track your training, pull up your year’s stats and identify where you felt good and put in some solid training.

Set Realistic Goals

After you’ve taken stock of your year, you can now think about laying out a calendar for the year to come. Are there events from year’s past that you want another shot at? Are there specific months that you can identify as a place to improve the consistency of your training?

Now make a plan to add reflection to your new year’s aspirations. Consider taking stock once a month or once a quarter to help you stay on track. Set a date in your calendar or a reminder on your phone.

Realistic goals can help you avoid burnout associated with starting a new plan. One of the ways we get into trouble as athletes is our rush to set goals without proper assessment of where we are currently. If you’ve never run a marathon, perhaps putting a goal race in the fall rather than in April will help better ensure success.

"Negative Split" Approach

Another way to achieve your goals is to consider a “negative split” approach to your year. Many people looking to improve their health or fitness start the year off with a ton of energy and motivation for improvement. However, motivation can wane, especially when other life commitments creep in. If you want to make changes that last, consider smaller goals in the early part of the year and build slowly and consistently over time to greater training efforts.

If you’re starting something new, it’s always important to listen to your body. Our bodies are eager to adapt and it doesn’t take as much training stimulus as we often think to see results. It’s easy to go out hard and find yourself injured, a recipe for derailing a plan for the new year. Realistic goals can help ensure you stay healthy enough to stick with a program for the long haul.

Accountability Partners

Identifying accountability partners is also a consideration for maintaining consistency in the year ahead. Is this the year to find a new running club? Even a once-a-week meetup with like-minded athletes can help you stay on track. Is there a neighbor, friend, or loved one who might be sharing similar goals for the new year? Making a plan to share training with them one or more days a week can also keep you motivated.

Is this the year to invest in yourself by finding a professional coach? Having an accountability partner with a well of knowledge and expertise is one of the best ways to maintain consistency throughout the year.

Make consistency your biggest commitment through reflection, realistic goals, and accountability and you may be in for your healthiest year yet.

About the Author:

Ben Dicke loves watching others achieve amazing results. As a Chicago-based teacher, coach, and ultrarunner, he regularly has a front row seat to everyday people accomplishing extraordinary things. He often credits his fourteen 100 mile run finishes to his dark sense of humor and his ability to ingest a gel under any circumstances. Fill out a Training Application to start training with Coach Ben Dicke today!


Author of the article, Ben Dicke, accomplished one of his goals from 2023: completing the Wasatch 100 three weeks after running the Leadville Trail 100.