We’re almost a month into 2014, so give yourself a pat on the back if you haven’t already ditched your New Year’s resolution and started trying to convince yourself that frozen yogurt is a health food.
It will be another few weeks before local gyms start seeing a mass exodus.
Some people will be leaving for the physical therapist’s office because they started their new fitness program with too much gusto. Others will be looking for a personal trainer because they realized they need guidance to exercise properly. But most will just slip back into their old routines as their initial New Year’s enthusiasm wanes.
One of the best ways to fight off the latter excuse is to start thinking of yourself as an athlete. Instead of just working out to lose weight, give your workouts a purpose.
Set a goal then think of your workouts as steps toward that goal.
Need an idea? Here are seven:
1. DO A RACE PER MONTH
Metro Parks Tacoma stages a race, usually 5 kilometers, each month making sure the South Sound always has a reason to keep running. Next up is the Feb. 22 Chili Chase at the STAR Center. The Titlow Mud Run is March 23.
Want to run even more? Tacoma Runners hosts weekly free Saturday 5K timed races at Point Defiance Park.
2. RACE A BIKE
BuDu Racing’s annual Pacific Raceways Road Race Series starts March 18 in Kent. Not only are inexperienced racers welcome at these Tuesday night races, Cycle U offers clinics for $5 on April 1, 29, June 10 and July 15. You might need to be fast to win, but you don’t have to be to try.
More info: buduracing.com
3. ENTER A CHALLENGING RIDE
If racing isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of challenging bicycle rides out there. Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day is July 31. The ride climbs 10,000 feet over 149 miles and is not for the inexperienced.
Some other rides you’ll find more challenging than a standard century (although, for many, a flatter long ride might be all the challenge needed to stay motivated) include the High Pass Challenge (114 miles, 7,500 feet of climbing, Packwood to Mount St. Helens and back, Sept. 7), Passport 2 Pain (78, 10,000, Vashon Island, date to be announced), Peninsula Metric Century (100, 7,250, Kitsap Peninsula, to be announced) and Ride the Hurricane (36, 4,300, Port Angeles to Hurrican Ridge and back, Aug. 3).
4. JOIN A TEAM
From adult basketball teams to pickup pickleball leagues at your local gym, there are numerous opportunities to surround yourself with active people who can help you stay motivated to keep exercising. The Tacoma Wheelmen and Capital bike clubs are open to new members and good at directing cyclists to groups that match their experience and fitness level. There are clubs for runners (such as Olympia’s Guerilla Running and Tacoma Running) and walkers (such as the Capitol and Daffodil Valley volkssport clubs) and outdoor lovers (such as The Mountaineers).
5. THE SIX-WEEK CIRCUIT
Starting in May, the South Sound hosts some of its best known and most storied running events. Why not set a goal of running all four in 2014?
First up is the youngster of the group, the May 4 Tacoma City Marathon. The 8-year-old race is quickly growing in popularity (more than 2,000 runners last year) thanks to a net downhill course. The race gets a new half marathon course this year that will cross the new Tacoma Narrows bridge.
Up next is the South Sound’s oldest marathon, the 33rd Capital City Marathon. This race, scheduled for May 18, also draws about 2,000 competitors each year.
The 51-mile Rainier to Ruston Relay turns 12 on June 7. Participants can run the entire mostly downhill course from Mount Rainier National Park to the Tacoma waterfront or split the miles among a team as large as six people.
The South Sound’s oldest race is the 12-kilometer Sound To Narrows. As always, the 42nd running of the race on June 14 will feature a challenging course packed with hills and a quiet ramble through Point Defiance Park.
6. BECOME A FANATIC
If you can pull off the first half of No. 5, you’ll qualify for the Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatics club (depending which distance you choose to run). These Tacoma-based clubs have grown over the last 11 years to a combined international membership of more than 14,600 runners.
The minimum requirement for membership is finishing two marathons or half marathons in 16 days. The hardest level of membership: 52 races at one of those distances in 365 days.
The good news: You can run as fast or slow as you like.
7. SCHEDULE A TOUGH TRIP
Putting a physically challenging trip on the calendar can keep you motivated to stay in shape.
In March you can apply for a permit to hike the 93-mile Wonderland Trail, a summer trip that takes most people 10 days or more. Or you can book a guide to make the climb to the 14,411-foot summit of Mount Rainier. tacomacitymarathon.com, capitalcitymarathon.com, rainiertoruston.com, soundtonarrows.com halffanatics.com, marathonmaniacs.com nps.gov/mora, rmiguides.com, mountainguides.com, alpineascents.com