While I’m not the biggest fan of New Year’s Resolutions — too much pressure and why wait for January when any morning throughout the year is a new day, another chance to do differently — I do appreciate the crispness of this first week of the new year. It’s a beautiful thing when the holidays are behind us and routine has resumed.

Mother Nature even cooperated this time around, giving us the gift (finally!) of soft, fluffy snow — a whole lot of it this past weekend — and, as the cherry on top, blue skies and sunshine. I spent the morning behind the keyboard, getting back on top of emails and projects, knowing I’d take a midday run in the sun. I couldn’t wait to get out there, to re-center after a couple of weeks of holiday celebrating and lounging peppered with a few shorter runs here and there.

Our new puppy Ellie kept me company this morning while I caught up on work. Tough life.
Our new puppy Ellie kept me company this morning while I caught up on work. Tough life.

And I knew the solo time on my feet, the snow crunching beneath my feet, would allow for some reflecting. I may not have official New Year’s Resolutions, but I do believe in making plans for the coming months. What I’m aiming for: Adventures and Experiences. How exactly this will pan out, I’m not quite sure. But I’ll use these two words as guideposts, like a compass, as I ponder and plan how 2016 will unfold for me and my family.

Which brings me to these 4 ideas for ramping up my running, because at the heart of the Adventures and Experiences mindset is running. Running is a gift — a gift I appreciate more and more with each passing year — so keeping myself healthy enough to continue with this sport and have the ability to play in other ways, too, is so, so important. Hopefully an idea or two (or more) on this list will help you as you think about your own plans for the coming year. And thanks to many of you who shared your own plans for 2016 on the MRG Facebook page, I’m adding some reader ideas to this list as well. Here’s to an adventurous 2016 for all of us!

1.) Start (and stay with) strength training.

I've tried (and stopped) working with weights numerous times in the past...here's hoping I stick with it by remembering how strong I want to feel.
I’ve tried (and stopped) working with weights numerous times in the past…here’s hoping I stick with it by remembering how strong I want to feel.

I’ve always admired Joe’s commitment to spending time in our basement “gym.” He’ll get up early, sometimes with our 13-year-old, Andrew, and knock out a workout before I’ve stumbled out of bed and taken my first sip of coffee. I’ll wistfully say to him, “I wish I could get excited about lifting weights…I know it would be good for me and my running to have more strength training in my routine.” He’ll respond by saying I can do it, I just need to make it a priority like I do my running. He’ll also acknowledge that he wishes he had more of a desire to get his cardio on, particularly during the winter. So we’ve decided to help each other in the coming weeks and months — Joe is showing me how to work on a set of muscles through different exercises with free weights, and together we’ll log a couple of miles a few times a week. We started this during the holiday break, so it’s still early on, but we’re determined to keep at it. The other night I came across this Outside article about building lean muscle and burning fat and though so much of the information I’ve read or heard before, it really stuck with me. (And yeah, I can kinda relate to the whole holiday gut thing…ugh). I know my love of Pilates helps my running, and adding strength training with weights at home can only aid my running performance further. The Experience: Spending time with Joe doing something healthy. Always a good thing.

Inspiration from readers:

“My goal each year is one new race. A 5K or a mountain bike race. My other goal this year is to hike new trails. Be a tourist in my own town! Less routine on the snowshoes and more adventures!!” ~ Kandace Chapple.

“First marathon!!” ~ Laura Flikkema.

Bike ride across Iowa.” ~ Lori McFate.

“Tokyo! Feb 28th. On my journey to run all 6 world majors.” ~ Summer Minnick. 

“Hoping to complete 12 1/2 marathons this year, one for each month! Already signed up for 3!” ~ Sara Love.


2.) Seize the (running/skiing/snowshoeing/paddling/biking) Moments.

Embrace every season! The Tahquamenon Snowshoe Races, now in their sixth year, take place in February at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the U.P.
Embrace every season! The Tahquamenon Snowshoe Races, now in their sixth year, take place in February at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the U.P.

A few things that keep me motivated to stay moving all winter long: signing up for a spring race (my fourth Bayshore Marathon and 8th marathon overall this coming Memorial Day weekend!); long training runs (and the promise of breakfast afterward) with treasured friends; fun winter races like the Frozen Foot 5-Miler and the Bigfoot Snowshoe 10K & 5K, both in Traverse City, and the Tahquamenon Snowshoe Race in Paradise; attempting to master a new sport, like skate skiing (maybe this year will be the year?); and hiking in the woods with my family on the weekends. I also know I want to feel strong for summer, when playing outdoors means a lazy paddle down the Platte River on an August afternoon, a stand-up paddle board excursion on Lake Superior, a race on Grand Island in Munising, camping in a state park, four-wheelin’ and beachin’ it along Lake Michigan, and navigating the North Country Trail in the U.P. We’re still mapping it all out, but this summer we’ve decided to explore new-to-us parts of Michigan, specifically state parks and surrounding areas. We’d been thinking of doing this, and an interview I recently had with Maia Turek of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed it for us. (If you missed my conversation with Maia, who has the cool job of recreation programmer for our state parks, check it out here on this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl podcast — you will adore Maia and her infectious love of our beautiful state.) The Adventure: Making some seriously fantastic memories with family and friends. “Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”

Inspiration from readers: 

“On New Year’s Day, I registered for the Tahqua 10K – a race I’ve been drooling over for years. It’s a big challenge for me because I just started my journey to becoming a runner the same day I registered for the race (4 days ago). I’m overweight, but I have until August to get myself 10K ready – one step at a time! I can do this!!” ~ Lisa Sierras

“I’m looking forward to my first Boston Marathon, my first pacing gig at Charlevoix, and completing my first ultra. A year of big firsts!” ~ Courtney Hansen.

“I am looking forward to running my first marathon at Bayshore! Then to keep the fitness up for a family vacation to Hawaii in September!” ~ Lynne Lentz.
“Half ironman in Benton Harbor.” ~ Eric Hansen.
“I am focusing on some northern Michigan running. Charlevoix, sleeping bear, a half somewhere along the water in September? My friends did it last year and the views were awesome. Trying to get the ladies talked into grand island long weekend.” ~ Laura Deitering Diehl.
3.) Try something different, maybe something uncomfortable and scary but ultimately satisfying.
A couple of years ago I got into the pool...haven't done it again since. That's going to change this year!
A couple of years ago I got into the pool…haven’t done it again since. That’s going to change this year!

After years of thinking about doing a triathlon, I’m finally, really going to do it in 2016! The race: Tri Goddess Tri, part of Epic Races’ Goddess Race Series, that takes place in June. (Coming soon: details about this race series and how you can get involved and train with MRG — please stay tuned!) The closest I’ve come to completing a triathlon is the M22 Challenge, a run-bike-paddle race that’s among my most favorite Michigan events and that takes place early summer each year in Glen Arbor and at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. I’m planning to do this one again, but I also really want to challenge myself and see if I can actually swim, given the Tri Goddess Tri is a traditional triathlon with a half-mile swim (32 lengths in a standard pool), 10.7-mile bike ride, three-mile run (part of which is a trail run with one steep downhill section). Yikes. I can do this, I can do this… The Experience: Going outside my comfort zone. And doing something my future self will thank me for.

 Inspiration from readers:
“I get to be a pacer for the Ann Arbor Marathon in April! I’ve never been a pacer before, the course is HILLY, and I’m super nervous to have people counting on me to get them across the finish line in time. But, knowing all of that has really pushed my training into high gear- I can’t let my 13 minute/ milers down!! WOOP!” ~ Liz Stomski.
“We just moved to Germany! I am looking forward to running some races in Europe! They have so many trails and paths here to explore while I train. I also met a new friend who is also a runner, so we are going to train together!” ~ Donna Kern.
“One year I ‘resolved’ not to run any races/events in which I’d participated in the past. I highly recommend this as a way to force yourself out of your comfort zone and your own backyard.” ~ Denise Keely.
“Been dreaming about running trails in British Columbia. Day after Christmas, my husband signed us up for the Buckin’ Hell 50K in North Vancouver. Logistics will come later? It’s happening – can’t believe it.” ~ Mindy Denton.
“Highlights will include traveling with friends for a week-long hiking trip + half marathon in Zion National Park in March, my 2nd Boston Marathon in April, and my 1st ultra distance 24 hour run in September.” ~ Molly Holmes Cybowski.
“This year I’m promising myself that I’ll work on writing my first book… or at least begin and make headway on the process!” ~ Heather Quinlan.
4.) View Food as Fuel.
Post-run deliciousness for Emma and me.
Post-run deliciousness for Emma and me.

I’ve always been a “everything in moderation” kind of girl. I have my weaknesses when it comes to food (specifically cheese, bread, chips and dip, and more cheese) but I try to make sure I get plenty of the great stuff, too, like greens and fruits and whole foods. Still, I know I can do better. So, I’m going to continue striving toward viewing food as fuel. This feels easier to achieve when I’m in high training mode — I come back from a hard and long training run and the last thing I want to do is fill myself up with empty calories. I want to reward myself yet not go overboard. I want to re-fuel in smart ways. The trick, it seems, especially when training for a long distance race, is to not fall into the trap of thinking I can eat whatever the heck I want just because I burned a boatload of calories. Admittedly, I am not so great at knowing or understanding nutrition as well as I’d like. But I’m going to work at this. (I welcome any of your tips for sticking with this mentality! And this has got me thinking that a series of articles about delicious and healthy food here on MRG would be a great idea…what do you think?) The Experience: Feeling strong, not sluggish, as a result of my food choices.

Inspiration from Readers:

“I’m planning to run the New York City Marathon- if I dont get in via lottery then I am joining a charity team- I am 50 this year and cant think of anything Id rather do!” ~ Christine Bell.

I plan to run the Two Hearted trail half in Paradise, Michigan, this summer.” ~ Gisgie Davila Gendreau.

“Me and my 12-year-old are traveling to Toronto and Niagara Falls for sightseeing and hopefully locate my grandfather’s birth certificate. Hopefully do a 5K with the locals also.” ~ Deanna Sawyer Dietsch.

What are YOUR hopes and dreams for 2016? What adventure or experience is calling your name?


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