Stressful, overpriced New Year's Eve plans are overrated—use New Year's Eve to set the tone for the rest of your year by celebrating
Almost every year, my New Year's resolutions include something that pertains to exercise—go to the gym more often, run four times a week, become a yogi overnight. But when I wake up on January 1 with dry mouth, a pounding headache, and dubiously sore muscles, the last thing I feel like doing is hitting the gym. (Know the feeling? 5 Healthy Recipes for Hangover Cures). And so begins my sputtering entrance into the new year.
In an attempt to set a different tone for 2016, I sought out alternative options for celebrating New Year's Eve, something that wouldn't set me back on my fitness goals before the year even started. After flirting with the ideas of a later, drawn-out dinner with friends, a marathon movie night, and a date with Anderson Cooper and a bottle of vino, I came across the New York Road Runners Midnight Run. The four-miler takes place every year in Central Park and advertises itself as a festive, healthy way to run (literally) into the next year. Sold.
Leading up to NYE, I fielded lots of questions regarding my plans for the night. I had anticipated some pushback from college friends on the choice to forgo the annual open bar party, but instead was pleased to hear their support of the idea and their surprise that such a thing even existed. While the rest of the city was donning cocktail party attire and heels, I left my apartment at 11 p.m. sporting leggings, a beanie, and my brightest neon running shoes for the midnight start. (Find out What to Know Before You Sign Up For a Fun Run).
Once I arrived, I was absolutely floored at how many people were there to race. Huge crowds of people, grouped into different pace corrals, stretched as far as I could see in either direction. After I got my bearings—made easier thanks to the DJ blaring music from the amphitheater nearby—I started to notice all of the runners' costumes. Tutus, crazy spandex, and onesies made my hot pink shoes with light-up shoelaces feel l-a-m-e. My subpar outfit aside, the palpable energy had me and my fellow runners hyped up and excited not just to get the race started but to ring in 2016 all together.
Music blared over the loud speaker as we waited for the start horn to blow. At 11:59:30, they started a countdown and at the stroke of midnight a huge fireworks display kicked off and the race commenced. For 15 minutes, we ran under the glow of the annual Central Park fireworks show, lighting up the skyline and raining down on enthusiastic runners and bystanders alike.
The course covers the Central Park inner loop. Despite the surprising hilliness of the route (which I always forget about...), it's easy to keep yourself distracted and motivated throughout the fun run—there's music playing throughout, a sea of costumes to check out, and tons of people from the nearby neighborhoods that come to cheer on runners. (If I had chosen to wear earbuds instead, I definitely would've gone for one of these 4 Playlists Proven to Add Power to Your Workouts). Not to mention, there's a chance to sneak in some sparkling cider at mile two.
Given the start time, I expected to be exhausted during the run; instead, I was fueled by the energy of the crowds and of my fellow runners. Towards the finish line, there was a final curve where hoards of people were clapping and screaming, making the last kick happen almost instinctually. Once I crossed the finish line, heart pounding and sweaty, I could feel my endorphin levels skyrocketing.
After starting off the year on a positive note with lots of people there to support me (even if they didn't know they were), I felt encouraged in my resolutions to be healthy and confident that I could achieve them without giving up having fun. The best part? No New Year's Day hangover. This is a 2016 I could get used to.