Helen Twose 's Opinion

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Jog On: Achieve resolutions by walking (or running) the talk

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Psychologist Sara Chatwin says the initial enthusiasm fades as people don't commit to their New Year's resolutions. The key, she says, is to be organised and have a plan. Photo / Thinkstock
Psychologist Sara Chatwin says the initial enthusiasm fades as people don't commit to their New Year's resolutions. The key, she says, is to be organised and have a plan. Photo / Thinkstock

Fitness and New Year's resolutions go hand-in-hand. According to Time magazine, after a festive season focused on food and good times, weight loss and fitness goals are one of the most common promises to ring in the New Year.

Yet Time quotes research saying 60 per cent of gym memberships go unused and after a brief burgeoning of gym-goers in January by mid-February attendance is back to normal.

It seems pledges to lead a healthier life often fail to outlast the hangover.

Why? Simple answer: we're lazy, says Time.

That seems a bit harsh. Surely it's not just laziness that stands between us and a fit, healthy future.

Psychologist Sara Chatwin says the initial enthusiasm fades because people commit to resolutions in name only.

"It's very easy to talk-the-talk, but not walk-the-walk," says Chatwin.

She says for anything you want to achieve in life you need to be organised and have a plan.

Write down what you want to achieve and then think about how you can enforce it, she says.

And be sure to reward yourself along the way, she says.

"Rewards with any of this stuff are really important. As humans we like rewards, we like reinforcement for good behaviour. You've got to find some way of reinforcing the good things you do with things that you like."

So are resolutions just a waste of time?

"I really like the concept," says Chatwin. "The key for me is it gets you to focus. It also starts you thinking about what is meaningful in your life and what you have to achieve. Making New Year's resolutions are often putting into words things we should have actually done a long time ago."

Psychologist Lisa Markwick says you don't need to wait until New Year to make a resolution.

"Making some resolutions and commitments to your life is really important - it doesn't matter when you do it. I guess New Year is a good time to remember to do it and often it's a time when people do have some time out and they've got some space to do some reflection."

I came up with my own resolution while plodding through a tropical downpour - thank you Cyclone Fina.

2012 is the year I ignore the fickle Auckland weather and get out for a run regardless, rain or shine.

I'll have my husband on hand to keep me honest. He's good at showing a bit of tough love when it looks like I'm going to back out of a run.

His advice is to just get out the door and if I'm still not feeling the running love after 10 minutes, then come home. I have yet to pull the pin at the 10 minute mark.

There is also got a second resolution. I've been sticking to the same old running loops so my goal is to include some new and interesting running tracks into the mix.

I've asked a few runners about their running resolutions, their best running advice and favourite running loop.

Dion Jelley is the organiser of RUN Auckland, a series of 5km and 10km races held around the city from March to July.

His running resolution is to actually do all the 5km races in the RUN Auckland series.

"It will be the sixth year the series has been running and I have only managed to do the 5km race at Botany Junction last year, so my goal is to do all the 5km races this year and have loads of fun with all the other participants."

Jelley has three favourite training runs: for a relaxing run he heads out along the rocks between Milford to Takapuna, Okura to Stillwater for something off-road and hilly and the waterfront for a fast run "as it is such a public place you don't want to be seen running slow along there".

Jelley says Jack Ralston gave him the advice to "train hard but train smart".

"In practice that meant doing the hard training runs hard and doing the easy sessions easy so that your body can recover. There is no point going out there and smashing every run, every day."

Executives from technology company Gen-i, including chief executive Chris Quin and marketing general manager Jo Allison, ran the 2011 New York Marathon to raise funds for the Catwalk Spinal Injury Trust.

Allison says she wants to change her past approach to running, which saw her target major events, train like crazy then do nothing afterwards.

"I want to keep running as a regular form of exercise - a great way to stay fit and be healthy and make it a part of my ongoing life."

Allison is also a fan of running on Tamaki Drive.

"6am, sunrise on the Auckland waterfront, running from Victoria Park Market to St Heliers. Watching the sun rise, smelling the coffee from the cafes along the way, seeing folk out for morning walks. Showered and changed and ready to take on the day - all before 8am."

Allison followed the advice of coach Liam Scopes to get her to the start line of the New York Marathon: get plenty of sleep; if its sore, ice it; if it aches, ice it; and if it's really painful, don't run on it. It's easy to over-train.

Quin says his resolution is to also keep the running going.

"I have aimed at the next event - the Paris Marathon in mid-April 2012 - so no chance of getting lazy."

Quin is another who rates Tamaki Drive as his favourite running route, particularly on a sunny day.

And his piece of advice: "Put one foot in front of the other because you can, from Catriona Williams, founder of the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust."

Twitter: @Jog_On_NZ

In other news

* Advice from assistant professor of physical therapy at Saint Louis University, Chris Sebelski on keeping running resolutions beyond the second week in January.

* More tips from Runner's World magazine for keeping training resolutions.

* Australian Dr Tom Denniss begins an attempt to run the equivalent of 700 marathons in 700 days in order to claim the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the earth on foot. His running will bring him to New Zealand early in the New Year:

Events:

* The Southern Muster run or mountain bike over the Snow Farm ski field outside of Wanaka, 3 January 2012.

* Head to Waiheke for the 10km Madame-Rouge cross country run (or walk) over five of the island's vineyards, 7 January 2012.

* Race the Kingston Flyer steam train for 12km between Fairlight railway station and Kingston railway station, 8 January 2012.

Helen Twose

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Helen Twose is a freelance business journalist who writes regularly about KiwiSaver and entrepreneurial companies. She has written for the Business Herald since 2006, covering the telecommunications sector, but has more recently focused on personal finance and profiling successful businesses.

Read more by Helen Twose

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