12 running resolutions to consider for 2012

PHOTO: 12 running resolutions to consider for 2012

Two weeks ago, a bright Sunday morning greeted participants of the Malakoff 12km race, an event that marks the end of the running events' yearly calendar.

Held at Bukit Damansara in Kuala Lumpur, the race ended on a high note - breakfast with mee goreng, taufu fah and, get this, ice cold cendol with freshly-shaved ice that had runners sitting by the roadside slurping the beloved local dessert.

That's running for you. It's not a race, but a celebration of sorts and the culmination of training combined with the ability to breeze through the distance.

Now that the new year is here, a running resolution is in order.

Whether it's gunning for better time, more mileage or participating in more events, anything that can keep you moving and performing better is a personal achievement.

Here are 12 running resolutions you may want to consider:

1. Try a new distance:

If you have done a few 10km, try a half marathon. Then go for a full. I hope to do so in June, having ran four half-marathons last year. My colleague, Zalina Mohd Som, will take part in the Tokyo Marathon on Feb 26. Set a new challenge. That's the only way to improve.

2. Run short routes:

Even seasoned runners run a 5km or 7km once in a while. Those are good distances to improve your speed and technique, especially during off running season.

3. Hire a personal trainer:

I could not have completed four half-marathons without the help of my trainer, who helped strengthen my muscles and develop my strength. .

It's simple logic. If you don't understand something, you get help from an expert. This applies to running, too.

4. Run for a cause:

Whether it's raising funds for the needy or helping out an animal shelter, running for a cause gives your hobby a purpose that goes beyond mileage and a medal.

And if that action lifts a burden, it's one good deed done.

5. Wake up earlier:

Go to bed early so you can wake up early for a run because nothing recharges the body and prepares you for the day better than a morning run when everything is quiet except your pounding feet and the beating of your heart.

6. Learn the value of rest: 

Rest and recovery are sometimes overlooked in training but it is essential to take one or two days off weekly to rest so your muscles can recover and you can run better the next week. Don't exhaust yourself. Running is long-term.

7. Strengthen and condition your muscles:

Running long distance isn't just about clocking impressive weekly mileage. Training your muscles helps protect your joints and prevents injuries so you can run stronger, longer.

8. Do more cross-training:

Swimming, cycling, dancing, kickboxing and aerobics are good cross-training options. This way, you still work out while reducing the risk of overuse injuries which normally happens when you do the same exercise for too long.

9. Be prepared:

Adequate training is crucial for a smooth competition. Most of us juggle between work and running, so planning is key. Train for your half-marathon and full marathon at least two to three months before the race. Combine long distance with short runs, strength training and stretching.

10. Harder, faster, longer:

Try a longer distance, do trek running instead of road, run up the hill, change your running route or train your speed.

Variety takes the monotony off long distance running.

11. Finish stronger than you start:

If you don't, you may kill the joy of running.

12. Know when to stop:

Most runners don't compete to win and we don't have the endurance and strength of elite athletes.

While you push the limits, you also have to know your body and stop when the alarm bells ring.