GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

Local marathoner Ian Butler says consistency is key to achieving your New Year goals.  (Dave Albo, lane1photos)
Local marathoner Ian Butler says consistency is key to achieving your New Year goals. (Dave Albo, lane1photos)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

When Ian Butler was running to an All American career at Western State University (now Western Colorado University), he came across the writings of Aristotle in some of his courses.

Perhaps the classical Greek philosopher’s insights were inculcated into Butler’s approach to training, specifically the famous quote, (in 20th century philosopher’s Will Durant’s paraphrase); “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

This is a quote University of Colorado’s Mark Wetmore first told me years ago was applicable to training, and is an idea you can use in sticking to your 2021 resolutions. As several prominent runners and coaches I talked with last week emphasized, consistency is key for improvement, and developing sound habits can lead to consistency,

“When I was at Western we would come up with three team goals and three individual goals at the first team meeting before the season,” said Butler, 39.

Like many runners, his time goals got faster as he progressed, until he clocked 2 hours, nine minutes, 45 seconds for the marathon last month, a time which puts him among the top U.S. marathoners.

Running 2:09 was a goal, although “a  lofty and insane goal from where my PR (2:16) was going into the race, but I don’t think my PR represented my potential,” Butler said, adding that as a prep at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood a fellow runner told him “to be competitive in this sport you have to be a bit delusional, and I think that is how I was going into this race. I had the approach either I run 2:09. or I’m gonna go down in flames trying.

“This mindset plays into (Aristotle’s) quote, that excellence requires you to train smart, but have a mentality that you are going to achieve your goals, and only positive thoughts and reassurance should go through your mind; you need to block out all doubt and just go for it.”

Boulder’s Noah Droddy clocked an even faster 2:09:09 at the same race. Both runners are now among the top American marathoners heading into this year of unknown racing. Droddy and Butler are paradigms of the Aristotle approach to training, how achieving “excellence” has its basis in forming good habits that are followed day after day, for years.

I did not get in touch with Droddy, as he was on the road, but his coach, Richey Hanson, offered this advice: “Improvement takes time, and consistency in training will make the difference. The more you can stay on track with any program, the more likely you will be to see success. The key is minimizing time lost to mistakes made in training.”

Mark Plaatjes, the 1993 World Championships marathon gold medalist, one of the best Boulder runners from the generation before Burrell, Droddy and 2021 Olympic marathoner Jacob Riley, advises runners wanting to stick to resolutions to: “Keep it doable; establish a routine, let other people know about your resolution so they can keep you accountable. And lastly make it as fun as you can.”

Having fun training these next couple of months means wearing the proper winter gear, as we have plenty of snow and ice ahead, said local retail running store owners when I checked in with them. Runners Roost (629 S. Broadway) once again is offering “winterizing traction devices” — motorcycle ice screws — for your training shoes.

Owner RL Smith has been doing this for years, and it is well worth $20, as anyone who has slipped on the ice can attest to. Runners Roost Louisville (459 McCaslin) has different winter traction devices, and Shoes N Brews (63 S. Pratt, Longmont); Go Far (2005 Broadway); and Boulder Running Co (2775 Pearl) have plenty of winter gear, ranging from head lamps for night running to wool tops for the coldest runs.

And Plaatjes’ In Motion Running (1880 30th St.) has a way to help your own running while encouraging someone to get into the running habit, which is to buy a pair of shoes and receive an extra pair to donate to a person or a charity of your choice. It’s a way, said Plaatjes, of “paying it forward during these difficult times.”

Finally, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by these historic, difficult times, tired of being cooped up and layering up to go for a run, recall what Adam Goucher, the former University of Colorado star and motivational speaker (www.runtheedge.com) gave as one of his New Year resolution tips for those signing up for his “Run the Year/2021 miles in 2021” program; “Remember that we are fortunate to be able to run.”

Which leads us to another Aristotle quote: “Happiness is activity.”

Follow Michael Sandrock on Instagram: @MikeSandrock.