Got a plan for 2012?

Big dreams? Better start planning.

Got a plan for this year? If you don’t, you need one.

If you vowed to be better this year, you need to start planning. You need goals to move you along. You need a carrot to get you out of bed and ride on a morning when it’s 25 degrees out. You need incentive to lace up your Asics and do your weekly track workout when your body is saying it would rather stay on the couch and watch the second half.

If you’re a road cylclist, for instance, you need an event to spur you on. The MS 150 in September, perhaps. Maybe Cycle North Carolina in October. Or perhaps one of the numerous centuries and half centuries that will test your endurance. (If you really want to test yourself, shoot for a mountain century; the Roan Moan in July is a good place to start.)

And mountain biking certainly isn’t without its share of interesting races. From the local TORC cross-country series, to 24-hour races such as Memorial Day weekend’s Burn 24-Hour Challenge, to quirky races such as Pisgah Mountain Adventure Bike Race that marry distance riding with thinking.

Are you a runner? Maybe you need those weekly 5Ks to string you along. Perhaps you’re in to distance running — or would like to be. I know of at least one, no, two, training programs ideal for folks interested in running their first marathon. Maybe you prefer trail running. Now’s the time to start upping the miles for April 1’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail 12M and 50K Challenge, among others.

Into the new breed of adventure 5K? There are more and more of ‘em out there.

Triathlete? You have to plan ahead because triathlons are so popular they fill up in an instant. Still, you may be able to find a good tri, sprint to ironman, with openings left.

If you’re into team sports, check with your local parks & rec to see what options they have coming up.

And if you’re like me and live for a good backcountry adventure, well, I had a little planning session myself the other day and came up with five must-do trips for this year: the Snowbird Mountains of western North Carolina, a section of the Great Smoky Mountains I’ve yet to explore, the little-known west flank of the Black Mountains, the Black Mountain Crest Trail — much of it above 6,000 feet — in winter, and the 73-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail between US 19E and Damascus, Va. You can read more about those adventures here.

Stop reading. Start planning.

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