5 Jan

Resolutions To Revolutions

countdown to New Year

New Year is a time when running and exercise generally takes a notable upturn in participants. The introspection which comes at the end of the year - often with a dash of alcohol - is a potent cocktail for those wanting to go about a little self-improvement.

It's early days in 2012, but rest assured, there will be many a new leaf and fresh start pledged already this year. Running is an activity that appeals to many people making a new year's resolution. It is an ideal method for becoming fitter, healthier and leaner - something virtually everyone aspires to.

It's also cheap and it is very accessible - head out of the door and away you go. Importantly, it also has clear goals. Taking part - and completing - a 10k for the first time ever is an appealing objective.

Of course, many will fail to maintain their new hobby and will slope off back into usual habits. The winter weather is a familiar hindrance. No sooner are the new running shoes joyously undressed of their packaging, than they are tossed under the stairs with a mere moistening of sweat and mud, destined to months of being conveniently forgotten.

Of course it's easy for committed runners to smirk at these short-termers and to feel a little smug of your own willingness to stick to your fit and healthy lifestyle. But not all of New Year's 'resolutionaries' are quite so undisciplined.

I know so because I am one of them. I wouldn't say I was couch potato, but prior to December 31, 2003 my running career stretched to one measly 5k fun run and a three 10k races in my early teens.

My drunken pledge to run the London marathon that night was greeted with instant cynicism and scepticism by all my drinking partners. The next morning I had the same reaction. But the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. In the end, I surprised myself by my commitment and I completed my first marathon in London just four months later.

8 years on and around 30 marathons, half-marathons, 10k races and triathlons later and I am still running. I know of several others - many now fully immersed in the sport as members of running clubs - who began running in similar circumstances. Not all new runners will stick with their New Year's Eve pledge, but for many that resolution can lead to a personal revolution.