Strava new years resolution
(Photo: Getty Images)

Here’s What Strava Data Says About Your New Year’s Resolution

Time for a six-month check-in! Here’s what the data says about how athletes are sticking to their goals in 2023.

strava new years resolution
Getty Images

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Less than nine percent of Americans are able to stick to their New Year’s resolutions for a full year, according to one study. In 2023, the most common resolution for Americans was to exercise more. But, when it comes to setting SMART goals, we runners are smarter, right?

Many runners set ambitious goals for their yearly mileage. According to Strava, 53 percent of runners who set yearly mileage goals for 2023 are on track to achieve those goals– with plenty of year to spare. Staying on track towards a yearly mileage goal is a balancing act that requires athletes to manage their training load over the course of a year. In 2022, 22.8 percent of athletes finished less than 20 percent shy of their goal– and 12.5 percent completed 90 percent of their yearly goal volume –so close, and yet, so far!

The most popular year-end goal for Strava users was 1,000 kilometers, followed by 1,000 miles (so much to love about an affinity for big, round numbers that transcends the Imperial/Metric system binary!). There was also a spike in interest in 2023k and 2023M goals, because…2023. To meet that goal, runners would need to log just under three miles or three kilometers a day, or 18 miles a week. Doable? Definitely.

Let’s take a deep dive into the data to examine what strategies help, and what strategies hinder runners en route to achieving their yearly mileage.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Runners tend to hit more mileage in the warmer months (surprising no one who, resigned to logging winter miles on the treadmill, ran out of Great British Bake Off reruns). According to Strava’s data, the athletes who met their yearly mileage goals tended to log more runs in August, September, and October. These months, in that tender spot between the heat of the summer and the chill of winter, gave athletes an opportunity to bank some miles before daylight savings and December.

Runners who met their goals tended to run up to 10 percent more than was needed for their goal in these months (also coinciding with the pinnacle of summer trail race season and preparation for fall marathons). September tended to be the goal-meeter’s peak month, with average monthly volume 33 percent higher than December 2022. For the best shot at meeting your year-end goal, the time to recommit to consistency is now.

Don’t Procrastinate

Strava’s data shows that waiting for a last-minute push isn’t a productive method for runners looking to meet their year-end goals. Athletes tended to trend under the consistency needed for their goals in February, November and December. Colder weather and shorter days provide enough friction to prevent many athletes from reaching the goals they were excited about in January. Even among folks who met their year-end goals, November and December, with all their holiday travel and schedule interruptions, were the lowest-volume months of the year, with December being the lowest month of all.

Get Right Back on the Bandwagon

The best advice for staying consistent enough to meet your goals is to not let one missed day become three, then become a week, then become a month off. It’s okay to have a down week, or even a down month as long as you’re able to maintain a base of consistency.

Among the runners who met their yearly goals in 2022, 52 percent ran less in June than was required for their goal. Almost half of runners who ultimately met their yearly goal went into June behind pace and used August, September, and October as an opportunity to make up for some lost volume. 20 percent of runners who were 20 percent behind their goals going into July of 2022 ended up making it up by the end of the year. So, right now is the perfect time to take stock of where you’re at, and recommit to those year-end goals.

Tips for Staying Consistent, According to Strava Data

Analyzing thousands of Strava uploads, there were clear patterns among runners who were able to meet their year-end goals vs. those who fell short. Here’s what we learned from the data:

  • Every bit counts. The median distance for runners who completed their goal vs. those who didn’t was 24 percent higher. Rather than trying to meet your goal through heroic efforts and super-long runs, consider adding volume in more manageable increments. Adding an extra mile or 10 minutes a couple of times a week could end up making the difference between meeting your goal and falling short.
  • Run with a buddy.  Athletes who ran with others in 2022 had a 17 percent higher goal completion rate. Runs with friends or a group tend to be longer, and runners who go the distance together are 78 percent more active than athletes who run solo. So, if you feel your motivation waning, grab a friend or join a group!

Consistency is key. Big, year-long goals aren’t achieved through one-off heroic efforts, but by doing the best you can to get out as often as is healthy and productive for your training. Athletes who met their goals had about 15 percent more active days than folks who didn’t. So, if you’re struggling to meet your goal, consider adding an additional, lower-volume day to your run week.

Lead Photo: Getty Images

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