Let's hit the restart button, shall we? It's the New Year, and that means it's time to rethink your exercise goals for 2011. You've seen the ball drop and the pounds put on. It's time for a new you. Running, of course, can get you there, but you may be intimidated by all the svelte-looking runners who braved the warm temperatures to put in six miles on New Year's Eve. Yeah, we're like that.

So, here are seven things you can do get motivated to get fit in 2011. It truly is mind over matter, in many cases.

  • Gift yourself a longer life — The holidays are, of course, a time of giving to others. Let's not forget that the greatest gift you can give loved ones is a healthier you. If you're feeling good, have fitness goals, and stick to them, chances are you'll be spending more time (in years) with your family than you would otherwise.
  • Sign up for a race ASAP — No matter if it is a 5K or a marathon, signing up for a race commits your running goals in your mind and on your calendar. If you think you're going to run the 5K the night before the Illinois Marathon in April, sign up now. You can't argue with the calendar, right?
  • Tell other people your fitness goals I know some people are bashful about talking about their running. Perhaps we don't like talking about ourselves. It makes us feel uncomfortable. But, the more people you tell, the more people who have an interest in your running and fitness goals. Learn from Sally (the newbie runner who went from couch potato to marathon runner). She told people so that she couldn't let herself give up. There were too many people interested in seeing her succeed. Guilt is a great motivator for some.
  • Join a gym — Fitness clubs are intimidating with all their metal, sweat, and spray bottles with who-knows-what in them. Love 'em or hate 'em, gyms allow you to get out of the house and commit to fitness outside of your comfort zone. Here's the thing to remember: other people at the gym really don't care what you look like. New runners seem to worry about that a lot. But, unless you are "the sports bra lady" — in another time and state, I witnessed the SBL routinely wearing her sports bra outside her t-shirt — you've got nothing to worry about. People go to the gym to workout. Sure, some people notice what you look like, but that's the price we pay for fashion.
  • Join a running club — Champaign-Urbana is fortunate to have Second Wind Running Club to offer local runs, camaraderie and a support network. I'm a member and board member of the club, so this advice is both good and self-serving. Finding others who have a commitment to running in a supportive atmosphere can be beneficial. That being said, you don't have to join a club. See the next point.
  • Find a running partner — If you're not into joining a running club, find a buddy who runs. Ask your friends. Chances are they know someone who runs. Or, convince a friend to start running too. I'm a big proponent of sticking to commitments if others are committed too.
  • Get the right gear — You'll feel better running if you get the right gear. Visit any sporting goods store, or Body n' Sole, to find the right gear to get you started. I know that some running shoes can be expensive. Yet, guilt alone might convince you to use new running shoes if you've paid good money for them.

Running in 2011 can happen just as easily as sitting on our butts watching the snow fall. If you want to run (and can), then it's simply mind over matter.