Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone in 2018

By Jill Forsythe


If you’re like me, by December I usually consider my year of running as “in the books”. My goal races are finished and I use the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to rest, recover, reminisce, and plan. While I am enjoying carefree running, I typically mull over my past year’s races and training.

What might I do differently in my next training cycle? What will I do the same? Which race tactics were successful and which ones were totally wrong? So many questions come to mind. Most likely, the biggest puzzle I’ll tackle in these 4-5 weeks will be arriving at new goals for the coming year. This is what will set the tone for the year to come and decide how I train.

My basic formula is to choose two goal races each year, one in the spring and one in the fall, and then choose a couple of secondary races leading up to those goal races. Aside from that, I further expand those goals to include finishing times, paces, A goals, B goals, etc.

I often like to change things up so that no two years are alike. One year I focused on half marathons and improving my time. Another year I focused on marathons. Last year my goal was to transition into trail running and focus on giving back by volunteering for at least five races, as well as help a friend achieve a PR (personal record.)

Change is good. It’s what keeps our running fresh. Change in running routes, change in the races we choose to run, change from roads to trails or trails to roads; those are just a few changes to keep us excited about our running instead of falling into a rut.

As you finish up your goal fall races and set into your winter running habits I challenge you to give your 2018 goals a little tweak from years past. I challenge you to do something different.

If you can’t remember the last time you volunteered at a race, make that one of your goals. If you have always been a front of the pack runner (or even middle of the pack), consider running at the back of the pack to help someone you know achieve a personal best time.

If you have been focused on endurance for the past couple of years, why not work on your speed next year? Chip away at your 5k time or work on your mile sprints. Never really tried hill work? Give it a try and see what happens.

If you’ve been more of a short distance runner, consider adding a longer distance to your goal list and focus on building up your endurance.

If you prefer lone runs change it up every now and then by joining a group run.

Step out of your comfort zone and do something a little differently in 2018. Good luck, and happy running!

Jill Jill ForsytheForsythe is a lifelong athlete having participated in both competitive and recreational sports. Health and fitness is a trait she has worked hard to instill in her children, as well as the community-at-large. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit, Lehigh Valley Road Runners, and has directed both trail and road races within the community.