The New Year is rolling around and gyms across the world are sure to be packed for a week or so, before fitness seekers’ enthusiasm wears off and they return to their normal barren landscape.

It does not have to be this way. Your New Year’s resolutions do not have to be empty promises and there are a few tips that can help you stick to your trail running, or indeed any, ambition you set yourself this year.

So whether you’re intent on getting faster, goingfurther, avoiding injury or just getting off the sofa, read on.

Here’s your guide to nailing your goals.

5. Clearly define your resolution

As good as the goals of “getting fit”, “losing weight” or “improve my running” sound, they are very vague. Their vagueness will mean it is hard to motivate yourself to train for, or worse, you will be able to lie to yourself that you are achieving them without having anything to measure them by.

John Ellis is the Asia Trail Master 2019 Champion. It was a goal he set himself in January. Photo: StudioZag/Asia Trail Master

The more specific your goal the better. It helps to link goals to a specific event. If you want to “get fitter”, then you should enter a race you have done before to measure yourself against. This way, you have a deadline to keep you training, a way to compare your improvements and a second chance to enter another race later in the year if you miss your target the first time.

4. Don’t feel guilty

We all have other things going on in our lives besides trail running. If you are on course to achieving your goal but have a week or two when you are swamped at work, or all your best friends’ birthday parties are on consecutive nights, don’t feel guilty if you let it slip for a little while. Don’t think “Oh well, it was good while it lasted”. Instead, start training again when your life returns to normal and be aware you might have taken a couple of steps back. It happens to all of us and is only an issue if missing two weeks, or even a month, means the whole goal is sidelined.

What’s more, don’t worry if you aren’t a morning person. Many of the motivational YouTube videos show runners getting up at 4am and declaring they want their goal more than they want sleep. Well, not all of us are morning people. If you prefer to train at lunch or in the evening, do it then. It all amounts to the same thing.

Hong Kong’s Wong Ho-fai running across Japan. He is now targeting a run across the US. Photo: Handout

3. Accountability

An easy way to stay accountable is to share a goal with a friend. Enter the same race, have a similar training plan or comparable metrics for success. This way, you can keep each other on track. Running is a solitary sport so you don’t have to train together every day, but at least once a week is a good way to keep you motivated.

Another way to stay accountable is to put your goals on social media. If you declare to all your friends that you will run a certain pace or a particular race, their encouragement will motivate you and their questions will keep you focused. Sometimes, peer pressure is a good thing.

SCMP reporter Patrick Blennerhassett (right) works out with runner Jeff Campbell. By publicly sharing his marathon goals online, Blennerhassett holds himself accountable. Photo: Jonathan Wong

2. Don’t wait

Get all the admin you need to start training in place now. If you delay signing up for races, contacting training groups or trainers, or joining gyms it will become harder and harder to start. If your goal is defined now and everything you need to achieve it is in place, it will be easier to hit the ground running (although, probably not on January 1, when sore heads abound).

1. Pick something you enjoy

The best kind of training is the training you do. Sure, there are aspects to training you will not enjoy and days when you don’t feel like doing it.

But even if a particular kind of training is said to be great for you, if you hate it you will just stop doing it. So, pick a training plan, a running route or a race that you actually want to do. And who knows, in time, as you feel fitter or hit a plateau, you will feel more motivated to take on other forms of training that you previously dreaded doing.