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Friday, December 3, 2010

Red Bandana: New Year's Day (A Month Early)

Another holiday? Didn't we just celebrate Thanksgiving? There are still leftovers in the fridge. And Christmas lights -- we are just getting them out of the basement. Why talk about New Year's Day now?

January 1, besides being a day off to nurse the previous day's late night of foolishness, is usually when people begin their New Year's Resolutions. We look at the previous year, and think, "The next year will be better!" Then, we make a list. Maybe it includes to stop smoking, write the great American novel, get a better job, or to run a marathon. All good. I love it.

Why not start your New Year's Resolutions a month early?

There is a fair to middlin' chance, as I warned last week, that some of us, nay -- most of us -- blew our diet at the Thanksgiving table. Family and friends brought treats, made a delicious turkey, and, when the cranberry sauce was passed our way, we lost it. It all went downhill from there. Three slices of French Silk Pie and two football games later, and we've gained 400 pounds. Hand me a napkin, please.

Somewhere out there, Richard Simmons is wagging his finger at us.

Will one day ruin all fitness? Of course not, but it can reset patterns of overeating and laziness. Did this happened to you? Getting back on the wagon should be swift lest you fall back into bad habits.

In early winter, it sometimes gets so dark and overcast here in Chicagoland that we cannot see a month ahead. It is not easy on these gloomy, chilly days to get off the couch and out for a run. Log out of Facebook, turn off the television, or put down the sweater you are knitting for your sweet Aunt Lulubelle.

Summer will be here soon enough, and we will wish we took hold of this opportunity to work off the pounds.

What should a running resolution look like?
1) Be realistic. If you haven't run in 30 years, a spring marathon not only going to be difficult, but a bad idea. A spring 5K is possible. Your body will be happier for it. You can build on this, work up to 10Ks, longer runs, and then, onward to the holy grail of running, the marathon. But all in due time, and not before.

2) Be specific. Sure, you can say to yourself, "I am getting into shape by running a lot." There are so many vagaries in that one sentence that, in essence, it means nothing. "I am going to lose three pounds a month by working up to, and maintaining walking and running 30 minutes a day five times a week." Those three pounds, in a year's time, equal 36 pounds. For most of us, that's more than enough.

3) Find accountability. Find a likeminded friend or family member to join you in this mission. This might be a running buddy you commit to meeting at the Wheaton College track mornings before work. It can also be someone you just talk about the journey to fitness over coffee.

4) Be forgiving. In other words, while it is important to remain steadfast, there will be occasions in which you skip a workout or eat an extra helping. That's OK, and part of living a joyful life. Stay on track by recognizing your goals are long-term. As you do the right things consistently, the right things will result, but this takes avoiding discouragement.

5) Have fun. Sing when you run. Smell the flowers (since it is winter, you will need to pretend with this one!). Look around the subtle, beautiful, amazing nature around you. Smile and wave at your neighbors. Think about how good you will feel after a shower. Remember the payoff comes with each new step, with each new day. In month, you will already be in motion, able to encourage others to join you.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
Released in 1966, "Wild Thing" resonates with pulsing drums, strumming guitars and a guy singing who is passionate about his girl. It is a great song to finish out a hard tempo run.

"Wild thing, you make my heart sing.
You make everything
I said wild thing..."


Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. He looks to running as he battles midlife and his mid-section. For more about his running adventures, see A Runner’s Dilemma (workout details, videos and more):

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