- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2006

New Year’s resolutions are stupid.

Most of the time they don’t work. Everybody starts the year with good intentions but ends the year right where they started — with good intentions.

My problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they begin and end in one-line statements.

“I will run more this year.”

“I will spend more time in the gym this year.”

“I will lose 20 pounds this year.”

“I will lower my cholesterol this year.”

Great intentions but no plans to back them up. That’s the problem. Without a plan, you will fail every time.

I see so many people training without a plan, just freelancing from workout to workout.

If you want to accomplish something significant, set a plan with goals — short term, intermediate term, long term. Share these goals with family, friends, workout partners. By sharing, you accept accountability for the plan — through the easy days and hard days, in perfect weather and extreme heat and cold and through success and failure.

Take time to think what is truly important to you and why. Think how your running fits into your life and the lives of those around you. Seek balance.

Set a goal in the next year or two, then work backward to today. For example, my goal for this year is to be in great shape by Aug. 3 for the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships. That preparation began in December, with a month-by-month plan for the next seven months.

And be flexible. Nobody I know can predict injuries, family emergencies and life in general. Be ready to modify your plan.

Throw away those one-line New Year’s resolutions. You are just fooling yourself. Most people have good intentions. Just look at the crowds at the health clubs in January that mysteriously disappear by February.

A look back — Several running events made news in 2005.

The 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics were wonderfully organized by the Finns in Helsinki in August, much like the inaugural world championship in the Finnish capital in 1983.

This year, we saw the continued rise of young American sprinters Justin Gatlin, Lauryn Williams, Allyson Felix and Jeremy Wariner. Our local star, Alan Webb, impressed by making the finals of the 1,500 meters and placing ninth.

On the roads, the Kenyan men and Russian women further dominated the world scene and the local money races.

During 2005, we lost two men dear to our running community — 47-year-old Ed Sheehan and 70-year-old Hugh Jascourt, who was a founder of the D.C. Road Runners Club.

We lost two staples on our racing calendar — the Governor’s Bay Bridge Run and Montgomery County’s Marathon in the Parks. We did find out in 2005 that a spring marathon and half-marathon will take place in Washington in March, called the National Marathon.

Locally, we saw the best and worst of people. An amazing effort in September established the Gulf Coast Relief 5K in Old Town Alexandria within weeks and raised well in excess of $100,000 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

But in late October, hundreds of runners in the Marine Corps Marathon were disqualified for intentionally cutting the 26.2-mile course.

More ugliness tarnished the sport as the BALCO investigation led to Tim Montgomery’s retirement after the sprinter was stripped of his former 100-meter world record. His former girlfriend, Marion Jones, once the undisputed queen of track and field, was out of contention all year and likely will retire soon.

Welcome to 2006.

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