“Taking steps is easy, standing still is hard.” – Regina Spector, You’ve Got Time – OITNB Opening Song

Luckily (and completely by chance) I’m not incarcerated and can take steps toward my future. But, after running the NYC Marathon as my last race of the season, I feel like I’m in a holding pattern. Standing still is hard.



I know I need to rest, and I plan on doing that, for exactly two weeks. Then what?

I admit, these posts usually come out in December or January but, in the running and racing world, most goal races are over for the season, unless you’re running a spring marathon. Otherwise, this is the time to plan for next year, so you can let it settle into your brain as you run around like a maniac though the ridiculous magical holiday season.

Step 1: Look Back

If you want to go somewhere, you need to know where you have been, right? I’ve been kind of afraid to tally up all my races from the past six months but here goes:

April 2015: New Jersey Marathon: 3:28:22 (PR) – 1st in age group 40-44, 2nd in Masters Division

July 8, 2015: Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon: 1:16:16 (swim 17:35/bike 34:38/run 21:35) 12th woman overall

August 30, 2015: Women’s Sprint Triathlon: 1:19:37 – 1st in age group, 7th overall and nationals qualifier

September 7, 2015: New Haven Road Race 20K: 1:32:23 – 3rd in age group

October 4, 2015: Maine Marathon 1:32:24 – 1st in age group 40-44 and 3rd in Masters

October 16, 2015: Runner’s World Trail Race/3.8 miles: 33:30 – 3rd woman

October 17, 2015: Runner’s World: 20:12 – 1st in age group and 1st in masters division

October 17, 2015: Runner’s World: 46:50 – 1st in division 40-44, 1st in masters division

October 18, 2015: Runner’s World Half 1:39:00 – 6th in age group/2nd in “grand slam” of 4 races in 3 days

November 1, 2015: New York City Marathon: 3:31:00

By far my most favorite race of the year, running the Maine Half Marathon with some great friends...and elite Tina Muir!

By far my most favorite race of the year, running the Maine Half Marathon with some great friends…and elite Tina Muir!

Wow. I have had a truly amazing six months.

By doing this, you also realize how much you have accomplished and definitely how many bottles of wine you are entitled to. Ten by my count.

Step 2: Prioritize

Training for and running all those races was no easy task. There are a few things I would have done differently with my training but, I also took it easy though vacations, and that I definitely would not change.

Swimming in Lake Winni all summer was amazing!

Swimming in Lake Winni all summer was amazing!

Take into account what your life looks like in 2016 and make your goals attainable! Why set yourself up for failure? Be honest with how much you can and truly want to do. If you have kids who are not in school, a demanding job that involves extensive travel or a serious napping hobby, you may want to train for the half marathon instead of the full.

Set yourself up to succeed and ask all the hard questions! Create a goal that has meaning for you. It’s great that your SIL wants to do the Warrior Dash in January in Vermont but is that what’s going to motivate you out of bed when it’s dark, cold and…did I mention dark…outside on a Tuesday at 5am? This is the time to think about it.

Step 3: Research

Sitting here right now I can think of about 20 different races I would love to do next year. The only way I could pull that off is with a serious overtraining injury, zero income and a divorce. Not exactly how I want to spend 2016.

If you’re anything like me, you have to set limits on all the things you think you can squeeze into your fitness calendar. Get online, talk to your friends and figure out what fun races you can do together and then plan it out in advance. Ragnar races don’t reserve vans and store days worth of food and toilet paper all by themselves. Don’t let this be the year you say “Oh man I totally wanted to do that!” Now is the time to plan it out.

Running with the girls is a MUST!

Running with the girls is a MUST!

Don’t forget to think outside the box and try something new! I sometimes fall into the trap of doing the same races year after year, just because. That makes zero sense! Think about a new challenge and plan accordingly. The year is your oyster.

Step 4: Organize

Once you set realistic goals, take it a step further and figure out how you’re going to make it happen. How many days a week will you train? How will you lock up manage your kids during that time? What will you do in the winter or when there’s a blizzard, hurricane or heat wave?

One of the best things I did to help me attain big goals was hire a coach. Find out if it makes sense for you as there are many ways you can go about hiring one without spending a fortune. Speaking of…

Me and my coach doing one of many open water swims!

Me and my coach doing one of many open water swims! She finished her first IM last summer BTW. Amazing!

Now is also the time to start scouting out a gym membership if you don’t have one. They will very soon be offering holiday/New Year deals plus, if you get one with childcare you have overcome two obstacles at once. You’re welcome.

Thinking of doing a destination race? If you’re planning on going to the Runner’s World Half and Festival weekend with me, we need to talk! Now that I know all the details of the race, I’m ready to rock it in 2016. Plus, I won’t have that pesky NYC marathon looming over my head this time around.

Step 5: Go For it!

Once you have a plan, take action! Get whatever gear you need, including those printed running tights you simply must have, drink some water (and for God sake don’t forget the electrolytes) and get your ass in gear!

You won't get to the podium by doing nothing...unless you happen to bike by it like I did while in SF last year.

You won’t get to the podium by doing nothing…unless you happen to bike by it like I did while in San Francisco last year. #NotABucketListRace

After what happened in NYC, I couldn’t wait to talk to my coach about 2016. I’ve already started thinking about where my focus will be (Triathlon Nationals baby!), what I need to focus on before January (strengthening) and key races that will dot my calendar from February to August.

An amazing thing happens when you detail a success plan for your fitness future – you have a year of “I did” instead of “I wish I had.”

On your mark, get set…

[Tweet “Plan your 2016 #race calendar in 5 steps! #Race2016”]

What is the one trip or race you want in 2016?

Do you usually plan your race calendar?

What destination race is on your 2016 calendar and can I come with you?