December – The most wonderful time of the year is finally here. What is not to love?  Most athletes are enjoying the fruits of their labor and taking some much deserved time from the pressures of structured training. The entire month seems to be party filled with cheerful music and an over indulgence of those amazing treats you dare not touch during your training cycle. Lets not forget the potlucks, presents and the big party at the end of the month bringing in the new year. If it wasn’t for the cold, it would be my favorite month of all.. but we all know my adversity to snow, rain and cold.

The new year brings new goals and resolutions. Unfortunately, if you don’t at least begin with an outline for the new year; by February it’s easy to fall back into our routine and find ourselves trying to play catch-up as soon as spring rolls around. So, these are some tips that will help you stick to those resolutions and keep you motivated.

Plan it:
During this off-season start planning out next year.. put a few goal races on the calendar. Talk with your coach to ensure that you don’t over commit yourself and that you are setting realistic and achievable goals.  Sign up for races which are structured in a way to help you meet those goals. Once your race schedule is set, just relax, plan a vacation around those races and enjoy the training.

Gear up:
Treat yourself to some new gear. Get rid of those worn out socks and splurge a little. Maybe even get some of those really short running shorts, they will make you fast… or at least feel fast and that is all that matters in the end.  Be safe on dark winter runs and invest in a nice headlamp like the Petzel Tikka RXP with reactive lighting which dims as you approach fellow runners. Personally I find new shoes an amazing treat.. maybe that’s why I have so many.

Get social:
Now is a good time to start doing your research on local running groups.  With a simple online search you will be surprised how many resources are available to you. From fee based, to free groups the choices seem plentiful nowadays. Don’t feel intimidated, just reach out to join them for a run. In no time you will find the group that feels right and will start building lasting relationships. A particular group which comes to mind is The November Project, a free option on a national platform.

Share it:
Strava can be a great motivator for some and keep you accountable for completing planned workouts. Social media sites have dedicated pages for races; somewhere you can share your progress, photos and results. O yea, and don’t forget to Instagram a picture of your finishing bling.

Enjoy what’s remaining of 2015.  Reset, relax and eat all the sugar cookies you want… The next year will be an amazing one.