Last year, during January, I took on a complete dry spell from alcohol and went fully vegetarian.
This year I am doing no such thing. I just have no desire to test myself in that way, and I think this lack of desire comes, in part, from the unseen effects that increasing my training throughout 2020 has had on my health, and my decision making.
Without making any conscious decisions, I look back on the past year and I see that I have eaten less meat, eaten more fruit and vegetables, cooked way more delicious, fulfilling meals, and have also drank way less. I suppose there was a part of me which knew that these were useful, healthy decisions for anyone to make, but these decisions happened subconsciously as I increased mileage and became more goal orientated. The more my mileage went up, the more my desire to eat more, and specifically to eat more healthy calories went up as well. As races approached and training intensified my desire to cut loose and drink a bit too much went down, an occasional glass, or nothing at all (excluding a slightly redder cheeked Christmas period), became more than enough as my body and mind simultaneously realised that I didn’t want it to impact on the quality of my sleep, my training the following morning, or on my races.
As far as I can tell, all this comes down to is a reordering of priorities. I am running focused on this blog, but previously I wrote about my other hobbies as well: music, movies, and video games. I haven’t stopped enjoying any of these things, but running has shifted it’s way up the pecking order to the point where I not only enjoy going running, I respect it.
I respect what it demands of me, and what it does for me. With that comes those healthier decisions. This is not meant to disparage people who prioritize those other hobbies, not at all, it’s just a reflection on my personal experience. It’s also not a criticism of those month long health kicks so many people will be participating in right now, it worked great for me last year and set me up to survive and thrive through a terrifyingly grim existence which was unfurling beyond my pretty little personal running bubble. So I guess what I am saying is: kick the alcohol, try a vegan diet, run a 5k everyday but, more importantly, when January closes, find something that you want to be consistent with. Find something that you want to prioritise, that you want to respect, because if you can genuinely find that thing, your decisions will naturally gravitate around it, and a lifestyle which will allow you to do that to the best of your ability may well naturally follow, without the need for any dramatic shifting of gears.