New year, new running motivation?

By Neil Crescenti

For runners, New Year’s is often less about resolutions to start working out or to start running, and more about training plans and filling in a fresh calendar with race dates. If you are like me, this New Year’s has been a bit different, though, and not because we had to watch a virtual potato drop. 2020 was a year to forget in many ways; as runners it was the year of busts. Just about every event was canceled or postponed… and then canceled. For many runners, training plans were scrapped and trip plans canceled. Michael Ford jokingly told me recently, “My investment portfolio is heavily weighted towards airline credits right now.” While we all could (and probably have) still race virtually, let’s be honest, running with a number bib along the Greenbelt on a Tuesday just isn’t the same as lining up with a hundred other nervous-energy souls at a start line or the crowd cheering you home across the finish line.

I recently found myself staring at the blank pages of the calendar, pen in hand, still shell-shocked from last year’s rollercoaster. I sat there unable to bring myself to write down race dates and events that might happen this summer. Pessimistic? Perhaps. I prefer realist. I sat back from the table and sighed, my motivation and creativity for planning the coming year had decided to take a rain check. Then, an idea came to me. I remembered the lyrical wisdom of The Beatles: “I’m gonna get by with a little help from my friends.”  I decided to reach out to my fellow BAR members and see what running goals they wanted to accomplish in the coming year.

After a recent Thursday night run I posed the question to the group and I was surprised at the answers I got back. Some folks kept it simple saying they wanted to stay injury free or to be more consistent with their running. Others held out hope that we would once again be able to gather at the start line and race. Some of my favorites were those that took a more creative approach to setting personal goals, like running 2021 miles and making at least four new running friends. Overall, the responses were the motivation I was looking for and got my own mental gears turning on what I wanted to accomplish with my running in the coming year.

Beyond this self-serving endeavor, what really inspired me was how the diversity of answers reflects the breadth of our running community. From walkers to competitive racers, road warriors to trail trotters, newbies to veterans, we all share the common passion for running. Through all the turmoil and uncertainty, the BAR has been one of the few constants over this past year and it is this great group of people that really gives me motivation and hope for 2021.

So, what is my 2021 running goal? A half year of half marathons – six officially unofficial backcountry trail runs. Random? Absolutely, but it reflects what I love about running and gives me something to work towards.

How 2021 will unfold is anyone’s guess, but I know that no matter what I can count on my fellow BAR members to keep me motivated. So, a big thank you to all of you and I wish you all luck in reaching their goals in 2021.

Happy Trails,

Neil

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