Running Resolutions for 2011

02/08/2011 - 13:43

By Pete Rea/ZAP Fitness
By nature I am not a fan of resolutions. I have watched resolutions, even amongst the most diligent and resolute, get broken more frequently than the national deficit ceiling. Having said that, we at ZAP have decided this year to come up with a series of resolutions we are bound and determined to follow to the letter. At the suggestion of one of our athletes, we have decided to share these resolutions with our friends in Running Journal country.

Have a Plan/Have a Back Up Plan
I have addressed this issue with Running Journal readers ad nauseum; however it continues to astound me how many runners seemingly with concrete goals fail to have a plan for their path to those goals. This year at ZAP we plan to have a detailed plan for each athlete. We suggest you do the same. We suggest that also you have a back up plan for your main plan. Is your goal to run a spring marathon? Have a contingency should something go awry.

Have Goals
To jump off the previous subject -- be certain to have goals and also be certain that all of those goals are not outcome based (performance) goals. In other words be certain to have some of your goals be 100 percent in your control such as (i.e. sleep eight hours, ice daily after runs, execute three core sessions weekly, etc.) Outcome goals (i.e. break 3:00 in the marathon) are important as well, but they are much more likely to occur if you follow your process goals.

Avoid Gimmicks
While keen to the latest physiological research and breaking concepts, runners of all ages and ability need to remind themselves that distance running is the simplest of all sports, and as such the best way to improve is to train hard, intelligently, and stay healthy. Altitude tents, cryogenic saunas, GPS foot pods with body fat analyzers, power crank machines, and all other modern day devices -- while they may satisfy our American need to figure out how to do things “easier” -- they will rarely improve performance. There is a reason the sport is dominated by the world’s poorest nations.

Always Choose An Extra Easy Day
We at ZAP get caught up as much as anyone in the trappings of always wanting to stick to the written schedule, even when tweaks and minor physical “issues” arise. Here in Blowing Rock though we have learned the hard way that runners are better off skipping a hard workout or two, abbreviating a long run, even taking a few days off to stay healthy rather than risk greater chance of injury. In the words of Mexican Olympic coach Roldolfo Gomez -- “a few days of resting is always far more intelligent than forcing the issue. The up side to forcing does not outweigh the possible detriments.”

Make a Contribution to the Sport
The vast majority of runners train and race and give little back (outside entry fees) to the sport that has given them so much. Make 2011 the year you make your own contribution. Need ideas? Volunteer at your local road race at a water stop, assisting with registration or even in the post-race tent. Every race no matter how large or small needs volunteers. Other ideas/suggestions are organizing a shoe collection for underprivileged children or even offering to fund a local youth athlete to a Regional or National competition.

Take Calculated Risks
As much as we preach caution, health above all else, and a methodical approach to training -- most runners, regardless of age, train diligently with the hopes of new breakthroughs -- even if only within their age category. Our training is quite obviously how we determine what we believe we are capable of in races. Occasionally, however, it is important to test boundaries and race outside the box. Been stuck in a two-year rut at 18:40 for 5K (essentially 6:00 pace)? Try going out a tad quicker and running the second mile harder than ever. Have you crashed and burned your last four marathons by going out too fast? Try going out a touch slower (two-three minutes) through the half and really target miles 14-20. In the end playing it safe will keep you healthy long term, but throwing caution to the wind also has its place (however small).

Be Thankful
I know I will receive plenty of e-mails on the triteness of my closing resolution, but here at ZAP, where we commonly ride the fine line of health and injury in pursuit of performance, we have decided to appreciate each and every day of time on our feet. As one of our former resident athletes told me this past year -- you never realize just how much you appreciate running healthy and pain free until you aren’t there. This year, we at ZAP plan to enjoy every good day (and tolerate with humility the bad ones). Best of health and happy running in 2011.

ZAP Fitness is a year round training facility located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Blowing Rock, NC. The facility has a 24-bed lodge, an exercise science lab, athlete apartments, a weight room and a full dining facility as well as running and hiking trails. ZAP hosts running retreats and corporate events between March and November and is home to 10 full-time professional American runners who reside there full time. ZAP also hosts adult running vacations between June and September for runners of all age and ability. For more information call (828) 295-6198 or check out the website at

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