Running in the 'Meda: New Year's resolutions

Running in the 'Meda: New Year's resolutions

Marty Beene

The starting line for Saturday's Midway Shelter 5k. Photo by Tony O'Toole.

Happy New Year!

Wait, what? Don't we have a few more weeks?

Yes, but now is when many of us start thinking about New Year's resolutions. This is a dicey topic, to some degree, because I am a big believer in NOT making New Year's resolutions. Many - most? - people who do this end up giving up after just a few weeks. Instead, I am generally a believer in getting started on a healthier lifestyle today, whenever "today" happens to be. But since we're almost to another new year ... what the heck.

The trick to making a New Year's resolution stick is to make your goal manageable. Many people will make a resolution like: "I'm going to lose 50 pounds by the end of March!" It's no wonder they usually fail - that magnitude of a goal is almost certainly unattainable. When a person with a goal like that gets a month into the new year, it becomes apparent that it's not going to happen, so the person gives up on the goal's concept immediately.

So how can you set a goal that's manageable? Who can tell you if, for example, "50 pounds in three months" is too much to expect?

For any kind of significant goal, asking an expert for guidance would make the most sense. If it's a fitness goal ("I want to run a 10k"), you could ask a coach, like me. Asking an experienced runner could work, too, although that runner you ask might only be aware of his or her own experience.

For an important health goal like losing weight or lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol, asking your doctor is a great place to start. Doctors or other medical professionals will give you very realistic advice in terms of what level of goal is reasonable. They will also guide you toward healthy ways to achieve that. They may not be skilled in the specifics of how to become physically fit, but coaches and trainers like me are often connected with medical offices, so they can refer you to a fitness professional. I'm connected with a couple of medical practices here on the Island, so if you ask yours for a referral, you might end up finding me that way.

In other news, Alamedans stormed Sacramento last weekend to run the California International Marathon. Results haven't been finalized yet, but I found 20 'Medans who finished (four of our people are listed without times, so either they did not finish or their times have not been confirmed yet). The fastest Islander on the day was John West, who crossed the line in 3:12:34, which is a brisk pace of 7:21 per mile. By the way, John isn't some young kid - he competes in the same age group as I do, the 50-54 group, and was 35th out of 446 men of that age bracket last Sunday.

Lisa Oyen, also competing in the 50-54 age group (yeah, once we runners turn 50, we're a tough group!), was the fastest Alameda woman in the race, squeaking under an 8:00 per mile pace with a 3:27:55. That performance put Lisa in ninth place out of 256 women her age. Wow.

The other race over the weekend was right here in Alameda on Saturday, the Midway Shelter 5k. The rain stopped about a half hour before the start, so we had excellent running conditions. Alameda High runner Bret Greene - fresh off of his appearance in the state cross country meet - won the race, with one of his coaches, Tony O'Toole (also a Hornet alum) in second place. Right behind me in ninth place overall was the first woman finisher, Hornet sophomore Lara Vetter. Hornet frosh standout Matthew Yep in fourth place made it five Alameda High cross country-affiliated runners in the top nine places - yay for us! More importantly, there were over 200 people in the race, which means it was a great fundraiser for a great cause.

Tell me about how your race went in the comments!

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups. Marty can be reached at