Setting goals for the new year is exciting for runners but runners should set goals that are important to THEM and doable. These goals should be rooted in health and in something that makes them happy, regardless of what others think. Below are New Year’s Resolutions runners should NOT have, including signing up for a race just because everyone else is doing it and running hard every day. Let’s make 2024 the best year yet for your running.
January 1st. It’s a golden date on many calendars — full of so much hope and promise to be better than last year. For highly motivated people (hi runners, that’s you!) the sparkly premise of a fresh start can sometimes find us biting off more than we can chew. Goals are great — get after them! — but unrealistic goals can be a sure path to burnout and frustration.
Take a look here for advice on setting realistic goals and resolutions.
In the spirit of avoiding burnout and frustration in 2024, let’s take a look at New Year’s Resolutions to avoid. Some of these might be tempting — for whatever reason — but the risk will likely not match the reward. Don’t let empty accolades or promises fool you. Hitting a goal is so much sweeter when the motivation to get you there is built on a foundation of genuine joy and hard work.
In light of this, I worked with my athlete and writer, Rachel Penate, to share ten new year’s runners resolutions you should NOT have. Reflect carefully on your running goals and make sure these are not hidden inside of them.
Be sure to check out my other articles on goal setting for runners:
Let’s make 2024 the best, healthiest, year of running yet for you!
- New Year’s Resolutions Runners SHOULD NOT Have
- 1. Embrace the “no pain, no gain” mantra at all costs.
- 2. Eat less, run more.
- 3. Run fast (before running slow).
- 4. Run Hard Every Day.
- 5. Skimp on strength training.
- 6. Feel like you need the latest fancy running gadgets.
- 7. Get a treadmill or gym membership (knowing you won’t use it).
- 8. Run to be better than someone else.
- 9. Run a marathon (because everyone else is doing it).
- 10. Let your pace define you as a runner.
New Year’s Resolutions Runners SHOULD NOT Have
1. Embrace the “no pain, no gain” mantra at all costs.
There is a lingering mentality still echoing in some running groups that says pain is a sure sign of progress. Well, ask any injured runner and they’ll tell you the opposite. Pain does not always mean gain. If you haven’t already learned how to differentiate “good pain” and “bad pain” in your runs, start tuning in more to your body when you’re out on the road or trail.
Good pain — the pain this mantra was likely based on — will expand your capacity to run longer and faster, but bad pain — pain associated with a possible injury can sideline you completely. What this mentality of old doesn’t account for is the myriad of research that has been done in the last decade to declare, pretty definitely, that rest is productive. In 2024, let’s work hard, but also listen to our bodies and rest harder.
2. Eat less, run more.
There’s an old adage that fits perfectly here: just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Our bodies are amazing and have the capability to function on very little. It’s an evolutionary wonder. But, again: just because we can, doesn’t mean we should!
Feeding our bodies what they need is our surest way to avoid hitting “the wall,” recover better after runs, and avoid digestion issues and dehydration. Some runners may see it as a badge of honor to run without any fuel, but I’d argue there is nothing heroic about denying your body what it needs to be strong and healthy. Take in your fuel. Your body will thank you.
Instead of trying to eat less, runners should focus more on having an intentional nutrition strategy to fuel their running. Remember, food is fuel–and you don’t need to earn the right to eat.
Related: Marathon Fueling 101
3. Run fast (before running slow).
It would be a silly thing to add an engine to a car that has no frame, or install a kitchen in a house with no walls. So, why would we jump into a training block without a solid running base? The work we do to build up our daily endurance on the road (via this base-building concept) will set the foundation for the speed-work and mileage building we do within a training program.
Without these base miles, our bodies will fatigue faster and be more susceptible to injury. January is a great time to look at a year’s worth of races, but if you haven’t run in a while, instead of shooting for a spring marathon, maybe consider a shorter race distance in the spring so that you can build to a fall marathon. A little base building strategy can go a long way over the course of a year.
Related: Benefits of an Easy Running Pace
4. Run HARD every day.
It’s tempting. Oh yes, it’s tempting. That urge to go harder and faster, get outside your comfort zone, each and every day. This concept makes sense in theory: the more you work, the stronger you become. But, that’s not exactly how our bodies function–and it’s a great way to get injured! This is honestly one of the biggest mistakes. new runners make.
Your body actually builds itself back up when you rest. The breakdown happens during the running, and the strength and fitness come during the rest. Remember, the equation of stress+rest=success. If you run hard every day, you are setting yourself up for injury or burnout.
Rest days and easy runs are crucial for the success for runners of all levels. They should become an ingrained part of your lifestyle as a runner.
5. Skimp on strength training.
I know, it is so hard to do all the extra little things. But they truly make a difference. I have learned this as an injury-prone runner. If you have the choice between running an extra two miles or lifting weights, my goodness, lift the weights. It will help you stay healthy and be a better runner.
While running is a strengthening exercise itself, the movement patterns are not always effective in building balanced strength. And, your body may compensate for inherent weaknesses which after the repetition of running can lead to injury. Therefore, much of our running strength needs to be supplemented off the road.
A simple strength training program with essential moves for runners might be all you need to keep your muscles firing as they should–and foster performance gains. Be sure to check out my 4-month strength for runners program for just $100!
6. Feel like you need the latest fancy running gadgets.
Do you remember what you were wearing the first time you stepped out on the road for a run? Likely it wasn’t the fanciest gear, but rather an assortment of random items you found in the depths of your closet. Some tools and gadgets help us feel more comfortable on the road, keep us safe, or analyze our data in a way that may help us improve, but everything new and shiny is simply just “something extra.”
If you really want Kipchoge’s shoes, have at it. But, don’t feel the pressure to buy something just because everyone else seems to have it. Not all gear is created equal — and you likely don’t need to break the bank on it — because you’re just as brilliant of a runner without it.
Related: 8 Best Budget Running Watches
7. Get a treadmill or gym membership (knowing you won’t use it).
Having easier access to running, especially in the winter, to make sure you nail those long runs and key speed workouts no matter the weather is a great goal–but not if you know deep down it’s going to be a waste of money.
If you take a look at a gym on February 2nd, its parking lot will typically look much different than it did on January 2nd. So often we set new goals for ourselves but fail to calculate into the equation a little something called discipline–or convenience. For instance, I know I don’t or won’t make the time to get to the gym to lift weights because of competing priorities. So I lift at home.
A gym or treadmill will only get you as far as you’re willing to make time for it. If you’re eyeing one right now, honestly ask yourself: “Do I have the discipline or ability to make this a regular habit after the initial excitement wears off?” Let your answer dictate your decision.
8. Run to be better than someone else.
Running is a social activity with a robust running community. If you run in a running club, there is a chance you will feel the pressure to run as fast or faster than some in your running group. But remember, no two people, no two stories, no two journeys are the exact same. So, why are we always so tempted to compare our own progress to others?
It’s great to use others’ successes as fuel for motivation and inspiration, but comparing our progress to others distracts us from recognizing just how truly amazing we are. Wherever someone else is going, let them go. Your own journey is beautiful in and of itself.
Related: How to Pace Yourself in Running
9. Run a marathon (because everyone else is doing it).
Have you ever met someone who just jumped out of bed one day and decided to run a marathon? Chances are they either run a crazy amount of miles already or they hated every second of those 26.2 miles.
A marathon may look like a crazy cool accomplishment (because duh, it is!) but a marathon without the drive and motivation to actually run is pretty miserable. Running a marathon can be a reasonable goal for many as long as there is time to prepare.
Running a marathon just because everyone else is doing it is a quick road to being a burnt-out human. It’s totally OK to watch your fellow runners accomplish their goals of running a marathon or trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon while cheering them on from the sidelines.
You can set your own goal like a new distance goal for yourself, or your fastest time in a different distance, or a unique challenge like the Disney races instead. Or focus on small achievable interim goals that set you up for every runner’s ultimate goal– longevity in and love of the sport.
Don’t waste your time on a goal that’s not fit for you. Your friends will understand.
Related: 26 Pro Marathon Racing Tips
10. Let your pace define you as a runner.
Do you run? You’re a runner! End of story. Pace is but a number.
Related: How to Run by RPE
Whether goal-setting is an exciting activity or feels more like a chore, 2024 is an opportunity to recognize the greatness within you. Just remember to stay grounded in the reality that a goal is only as good as its follow-through. Let’s make 2024 a great year for both your physical and mental health!
If you need guidance with your training and going after those new years running goals, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans: