It’s our completely unfounded opinion that routine-oriented runners fared much better than goal oriented in 2020. The loss of events and group runs played havoc with the goal oriented runners out there. Nothing to plan around. No competition to stoke the fire and make the pain and effort worth enduring. Some just wallowed in the aimlessness, while others piled on mileage in very unsupervised fashion, and ended up burned out or injured. It was entirely legitimate to grieve #goals last year.

But we want to highlight the positives that can grow from drawing motivation from within, without reliance on external reasonings. Go along with us here, and for a moment, reframe 2020. What have you learned about yourself as a runner? Do you like road running? Or did you realize you only run roads because most races happen there, and so training happens there, too. Did you discover new appreciation for trails? Maybe it was just the opposite, and you returned to your familiar road ways. Did you find that you eventually felt more comfortable with the concept of going out for a run just because? Not because you “needed” the mileage. Were you able to find the joy in getting outside – having no real agenda?

There is a lot to be said for cranking the discomfort, for pushing your edges, and realizing what you are truly capable of. It’s a total confidence booster to finish something you really weren’t sure you could, and feel like a badass. It changes the chemistry of your brain, it enables you to do more, if you choose to, because you know you (probably) can. “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you,” is one popular saying. And there’s truth there. But there’s also a lack there. How often can you really put yourself through the wringer before you hate the process, or get injured? What if instead your sport were just a part of your life. Like commuting to work, which we all did a lot less of, probably. What if your run WAS your commute?

2020 offered many of us the opportunity to run at times and places we couldn’t before. Like a lunchtime run while working from home. Or changing your commute from a road rage inducing drive, to a stress relieving run commute. If you did, chances are you’re a heck of a lot more fit. You hopefully felt overall less stressed, too. And, maybe, you found a sense of contentment and accomplishment that will hang around instead of immediately being replaced by “what next?”

2021 will very likely get us all back to something that resembles what we had before 2020 struck. Before we all rush off to cram in a training plan for the ACTUAL RACE we get to do, take a few tips from 2020. Appreciate the run. Keep a run journal, and put down the good feels as well as the places you felt like you could have improved. Maybe don’t put down your pace. With luck, we can hold onto the rhythms we found inside the chaos of 2020, and carry those forward into the future, whatever it may bring. It could possibly make us all more resilient, and motivated from within, rather than looking for external motivation.