Rod Harrington with permission for Varsity

As my favourite GCN cyclist presenter proudly stated: “I’ve never broken a new year’s resolution because I’ve never actually set a new year’s resolution,” and this noble credo is one with which I’ve inadvertently aligned myself over the years.

However, Eliud Kipchoge reminds us each time he laces up his shoes that “no human is limited”, and general knowledge reminds us that running tends to take the brunt of new year resolution focus. No matter your personal opinion of the split shorts-clad, strava-graph-bragging, achilles-drills-chatting, carbon-plate-evolution-expert that is the quintessential runner, the sport is undoubtedly a tantalisingly perfect undertaking. It is simple, cheap, accessible, time-efficient, self-improving and well-being-boosting. And this is how best to stick with it.


A decent pair of versatile running shoes are crucial for health and comfort; my favourites are the ASICS Gel Cumulus or Gel Kayano. Shoe branding can be perplexing in its claims to cater for differing terrain and pace specialities, but simplicity and comfort is the priority.


Running with others not only holds you to your foolish 31 December 2023 vow to run, but lightens the training load, allowing the miles to tick by slightly more quickly than if solo. Naturally, safety in numbers is another reason for running in company.


A stunning-at-most and tolerable-at-least rotation of running routes can also keep your levels of motivation just above the waterline of will-power. Try switching out the Grange Road slogs for a towpath trot or Grantchester gallop. Exchanging pavements for actual paths really can transform a session or run. Furthermore, the added lark of chasing down rowers on the towpath can offer a scintillating race-simulation. This advice is by no means confined to the environs of Cambridge; fell or trail running offers a more extreme version of route variation and sometimes navigational challenges too.


Sleep and fuelling must not be neglected in the quest to run more; it’s the health advice of lore – eating within half an hour after a run will lessen excess fatigue, and combined with sleep, will help reduce injury risk. No need to fill your kitchen with beetroot quinoa smoothie schnaps, avocado-coated pistachios or collagen-infused rye bread though – food is fuel for the fire, hay for the barn, diamonds in the mine.


Because it swiftly yields results, running is an attractive option to the new year resolution chaser, and setting achievable but motivational goals can help remind you why you started, dividing up your running and reducing boredom and stagnation. You don’t need to go full Markus Torgeby and camp in a Swedish forest for four years to run and live (although you’d get my full backing and a hearty handshake), but micro-goals, such as ticking off the 3km, 5km, 10km distances or reducing the Parkrun time by 1 minute are perfect in their own right.

Ultimately, although much of the above may seem obvious, it’s sometimes the ostensibly nugatory bits and pieces which can be hardest to implement and, over time, fall by the wayside as you become a more frequent runner. For example, things like changing up routes, making time to run with others and setting goals. If you’re doing a bit of an Eric Carmen and find yourself repeatedly running all by yourself, do reach out to Cambridge University Hare & Hounds and the running club’s Dev Squad, who organise group runs and sessions.

I’m not going to conclude with a platitudinous “most importantly, just enjoy it”, because when your supervisor didn’t like your Week Five essay and you just want to pound out the aggro onto the pavement but get caught in a squally storm, splashed by a lorry, lost in the stem-replete maze that is West Cam and straggle home to a fridge-shelf containing three radishes, some butter and a carrot, it could be hard to preach to anyone of running’s myriad benefits. So, with that, take Bob Dylan’s advice and come crawl out your window, use your (hands and) legs – it won’t ruin you!