This week, Facebook founder and notorious resolution-maker Mark Zuckerberg announced his goal to run 365 miles in 2016. He even created a Facebook group, A Year of Running, to invite everyone to join his challenge.
For a seasoned runner, this sounds completely doable. To anyone who doesn’t already hit the pavement regularly, 365 sounds like a daunting number.
But if you think about it, it’s just the equivalent of one mile per day, or a couple miles every other day, explains Andrew Kalley, master personal trainer, triathlon coach, and elite triathlete. “Even if you start with less than a mile at a time and slowly worked your way to longer distances you can hit this goal,” Kalley tells Yahoo health. “Not to mention, starting off with a lower running volume reduces your risk of injury and is a lot less likely to disrupt your plan.”
Here, Kalley lays out some smart tips that’ll make running less intimidating, so you can get out and start logging your first miles of 2016.
Commit to just showing up “In all my years of coaching and competing, I still believe the hardest thing to do is show up,” Kalley notes. “Once you show up you will do something.” Start by setting a realistic frequency — if your goal is to run three times per week, show up three times and run at least a half mile. “Chances are you will run more. It’s a great feeling when you get the job done.”
Start slow “When most people start running or pick it back up after a long break they can feel very sore in their joints and muscles,” Kalley notes. “It takes several weeks to months to build up the conditioning and aerobic capacity for running longer distances.” But it’s very doable if you start slow. “There is truth to that old ‘slow and steady’ adage… even if you don’t win the race, it will keep you on pace for achieving a running goal you can be proud of.” Even if you start with a 14-minute mile, you can just commit yourself to averaging one mile per day, and work on cutting your time from there. Increase your running volume by only five to ten percent each week, Kalley recommends. Anything more ups your risk of burnout or injury.
Set realistic — and specific — goals And write them down where you’ll see them every day (like your fridge, your phone lock screen, or your nightstand), Kalley recommends. Usually, New Year’s resolutions are vague, like “exercise more.” Zuckerberg’s goal is way more specific, and that’s a good thing. “Usually when we set broad, lofty ideas to achieve a fitness goal, it becomes overwhelming and we quickly give in or give up,” Kalley says.
Find a place that motivates you Whether that’s your favorite path along the river, the park, or even a track or treadmill, chances are there’s a location that’ll inspire you more than others. Combined with an awesome playlist, you’ll have other things (i.e., a beautiful city view) to focus on as you go.
Join a community “The great thing about this Zuckerberg challenge is that it encourages his Facebook followers to join a community page to share their progress,” Kalley notes. “When you have a group you can share your story with, you are more likely to keep working on your goal and remain accountable.” Which is also why Instagram is so great for fitness motivation. You can also join a training team for support (Kalley offers one), or simply find a running partner that will agree to meet you for runs. You’ll be way less likely to skip if it means ditching your friend, too.
Invest in a good pair of sneakers Get fitted at a running-specific store, like Road Runner Sports, to make sure you get a pair that suits your specific stride. “Bad running shoes are like a bad pair of ski boots,” Kalley warns. “Have you ever put on ski boots that were too tight or too big for you? That pretty much spells out a .gif of disaster and viral YouTube infamy.” You need to lace up in what feels right to stay comfortable, injury-free, and actually enjoy your run.
Find a running coach or trainer If you’re really looking to improve your runs (and possibly surpass those 365 miles before December?) working with a trainer is a great way to get motivated. “Coaches and trainers aren’t just there to cheer you on, but to create targeted plans to help you achieve goals and fuel you with techniques to meet or get past that mile/day average.”