For fitness fans, particularly runners, January is a time to set new goals for the year ahead. While some people take action and remain committed to achieving these, around 92 per cent of people won't bring their these resolutions to life.
Patrick Bowring isn't one of them. Despite taking up running only six years ago, Bowring (known as the UltraChef) has become an accomplished ultra runner, boasting second place in last year's Buffalo Stampede Grand Slam and fifth in the Alpine Challenge 100 miler (160 kilometres).
Bowring sets his running targets based on difficulty. "I like to see what I'm capable of and how far I can push myself mentally and physically," he says. "My goals lie at the edge of belief and failure. I like the fact that my goals are so big that I may not be able to achieve them. The unknown triggers some serious internal questions, but it's so rewarding when I cross that finish line."
"My most difficult goal so far has been to complete the Alpine Challenge last November. Covering 160 kilometres, and with 34 per cent of runners not finishing, and nearly 8000 metres of elevation, it seemed a fitting challenge."
If, like me, Patrick has inspired you to set some challenging goals for 2017, then try achieving one, some, or all of these running targets to become a well-rounded athlete.
Run your fastest five kilometres
Running your fastest five kilometre will push you to your limits as it requires the speed and strength of a short distance runner combined with the stamina of a marathon-er. Good five kilometre training includes three distinct aspects of running fitness: speed, race-specific fitness and endurance, so be sure to mix up your training with speed and hill sessions as well as some targeted strength training.
Run a destination run
Make running the centre of your holiday or weekend away by planning a trip around a running event or a destination with drop-dead gorgeous trails. Besides the obvious benefits of a holiday, runcations are a great way to do that race that's on your bucket list. Check out 22 of Australia's best places for a running holiday.
It's better to run a few times a week every week, than to run half a dozen times one week and then do no running for the next two weeks. By getting some continuity in your run training, your running will improve as your body adapts to the regular rigors of running.
Take injury prevention seriously
Start building injury prevention into your training program now. Instead of making it an afterthought, resolve to be proactive about injury prevention. This includes getting a running assessment and training program from a Sports Physio or running coach; strengthening weak muscles through a tailored exercise program; beginning every run with dynamic stretches such as leg swings, walking lunges or knee lifts; getting enough sleep, and using a foam roller for any tight or sore muscles.
Complete a parkrun
Head along to your local parkrun – a free, weekly five kilometre timed run. Set in pleasant parkland surroundings, the events encourage people of all abilities to take part; from walkers or those taking their first steps in running to seasoned athletes.
Run a marathon
Signing up to run a marathon is a big deal for many runners, but it's one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can do for yourself. Start by choosing the right marathon for you, getting on top of any aches and pains early, selecting a training program, and gradually increasing your distance.
Support a cause that's close to your heart by raising money when you complete a race. Other ways you can give back include volunteering at a race, joining a local beach cleaning patrol where you can run and make your beach beautiful, donating or volunteering with On My Feet that supports people who are homeless or helping Indigenous men and women to run the New York Marathon through the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.
Join a running group
Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to pull on your running shoes and hit the pavement. Joining a running group can give your training a push-along and hold you accountable. Studies show that when people train with a group their perceived effort is lower at the same speed/pace than when training alone.
Run a trail race
Take your running off the beaten track and head to the hills for a scenic trail run. Trail running has boomed in the last three to five years, with participation rates increasing annually. If leaving the running race crowds behind isn't enough of a lure, then maybe improved mental health is. Researchers from Stanford University have found that exercising for 90 minutes in a natural setting decreases neural activity in an area of the brain associated with mental illness.
Plenty of runners and athletes, whether pro or amateur, have found yoga to be helpful in improving their strength and flexibility, enhancing mind-body connection, increasing breath control and mental toughness and preventing injury. Get bendy by attending one class a week and building up to at least two a week to experience the benefits of yoga on your running performance.
What running goals have you set in 2017? Let us know in the comments section below.
The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.
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