There’s Always Next Year: Five Running Goals for 2021
At this point, I think a lot of people are starting to realize that 2020 just isn’t anyone’s year. Sure, there are some goals you can still attain. Yes, each of us might be able to learn something about ourselves. We might form some good memories and even start to appreciate parts of life we previously took for granted. But in general, 2020 isn’t going to be the year you get the experiences you were hoping for.
That includes running experiences and goals. Because, hey, if you’re a serious runner, you probably had big dreams for 2020. I know I did. I’ve been able to stick with my running routine safely throughout the pandemic, and I’ve even done a few virtual races. But I’ve also had to postpone a lot of running goals that I was really excited about at the start of the year.
So, I figure it’s never too early to start looking ahead to 2021. In fact, it’s probably better to start planning four or five months out because it means I won’t lose any time once it becomes safe to move forward. I can just start putting those plans into action—hit the ground running, so to speak.
Here are the five running-related resolutions that have me looking forward to post-pandemic life:
1. Run More races.
This one’s the most obvious, and it’s probably universal among all runners. At the start of 2020, I told myself I wanted to do ten races in at least five different states. I’m working my way toward doing ten virtual races, and while they’re rewarding in their own way, I’m excited for the thrill of doing another in-person marathon.
It’s not just marathons though. I was registered for my first triathlon this year, and I remain hopeful I might be able to do it next year. I’m about to undertake a virtual ultra, and I’d love to do an in-person ultra in 2021. I want to do obstacle challenges and mud runs. It would also be cool to do a long-distance relay.
I’m also sticking to that whole goal of running races in five different states. I want to use running as a chance to see more places. Speaking of which, that segues nicely into my next goal…
2. Plan More runcations.
I’ve never done a runcation, but I’m definitely going to plan one (or several) for 2021. Runcations are exactly what they sound like: Vacations planned around running. You travel to a new city because you’ve heard they have great running trails. You get to explore new cities or parks by running. To a non-runner, this might seem strange. But I can think of no better way to sightsee than by jogging past everything while high on endorphins. And who says you need a marathon for an excuse to travel somewhere?
3. Help another runner in their training.
Races aren’t the only running opportunity I lost this year. I was also asked to coach the running club at a local elementary school and the cross-country team at a local high school. Obviously, both extracurricular activities were cancelled for students.
While I hope that I’ll be asked to coach again next year, I’m more focused on just being able to help other runners with their training in just about any capacity. It doesn’t have to be students. Maybe it’s a local running club that holds meet-ups. Maybe it’s a friend who needs a training partner. These haven’t been options in 2020 while everyone tries to keep their distance, but once it’s safe to be within 6 feet of people again, I know that I’m going to be teaming up with other runners to encourage and motivate those who need it.
4. Organize a 5K for charity.
I don’t want to just participate in races again. I also want to lend my insight into organizing a few races. In fact, this was something I was working on in the early part of 2020, but the race had to be cancelled along with so many other events this year.
So many charitable organizations can benefit from a 5K fun run because these are events everyone likes to participate in—even non-runners. They’re a great excuse to get out of the house, get some physical activity, and come together for a good cause. Most charities are in need of volunteers to help make these events happen, and they’re always grateful to have a runner on the planning committee because some of their regular volunteers aren’t runners and aren’t aware of all the little things people expect from a race. A runner on the planning committee can make recommendations like chip timing, finish line photos, swag bags, and aid stations.
5. Try more running gear.
I’m pretty simple when it comes to running. I wear basic athletic attire, basic socks, and basic running shoes. I don’t use anything high-tech to track my runs or listen to music—just a simple clip-on MP3 player that has pedometer and stopwatch capabilities. For someone who runs as much as I do, it would be smart for me to invest in better running gear.
True, there’s no reason I have to hold off on doing all of this until 2021. I could easily order it all online. But I’d love to go to the store in person, see everything before buying it, and ask a thousand questions of the sales associate in the process. I’m including it with my 2021 goals because I want to have all this cool gear with me when I’m doing my next race, training with a running group, and going on that much-anticipated run-cation, so there’s no rush to get any of it until then.
I’m sure there will be plenty of other running goals I’ll set once we move into post-pandemic life, and that’s great! I want to keep an open mind. I want to stay excited. There will be time to make the most of social running next year. In the meantime, let’s all keep training and enjoying the fitness journey.