Helping busy runners get healthier, happier and faster

Category: Habit

Rule #4 – Set a goal – any goal!

Have you ever noticed how your focus or intensity in training tails off when you don’t have a race booked in? Or maybe you had a race booked but you were just running it for fun and so you didn’t really take training very seriously?

Now I am all for enjoying running. Absolutely. If you don’t ever enjoy it then there better be another darn good reason for doing it! And you should definitely have some easy weeks built into your training to avoid burnout.

But I’m also a believer that you need to keep the horizon in your eye-line. You need to know and be thinking of the next big thing for your running. You need a goal that is going to keep you focused and motivated to maintain your fitness.

It could be a special race, a charity event, a faster time, a new distance, terrain or country. It might not have to be a race at all but it has to be something that is big enough for you to have a plan towards.

Planning out at least 6 months in advance keeps you focused on what you need to do to achieve your next target. It will prevent you going onto autopilot and potentially undoing the good work you’ve done up to this point.

Sign up to something today if you haven’t got anything planned. Tell your friends and family to make you accountable and start planning towards your next big goal.

Rule #3 – Past performance is not an indicator of future results

Investing in the stock market always comes with the warning above. However, it applies to running too. It is far too easy to focus on the past and let it cloud our judgement of what we do now. This can manifest itself in two ways: Reminiscent running and Rut running.

Reminiscent running is where we wish that we are as fast and as fit as we used to be. We may wish it so much that we actually believe it until we try running. We then come back to earth with a horrible crash leaving us demoralised and dreading running.

Instead of focusing on where we once were at some perfect point in time, we must be pragmatic and use ‘now’ as the starting point for where we can get to in the future. Start with realistic goals based on your current fitness and work up from there.

Rut running is almost worse. This is where we get stuck doing the same training and our levels plateau. We could see improvements but instead our potential is stunted by doing training that doesn’t work and doesn’t excite us anymore and leaves us feeling stale.

By constantly reassessing our goals and challenges and varying our training accordingly, we stay fresh and keep improving. We conquer new challenges and get the best out of ourselves.

If you are going to invest in the stock market then take the statement above as a caution. However, if you are running take it as a positive reminder not to compare yourself to a former you and that quite possibly your best running days are still ahead of you.

New year, new running

It’s the time of year when we make all those promises to ourselves and within days, weeks or if we’re lucky a month or two everything falls apart. We all get caught up in new year; we’ve probably eaten and drunk a bit more than usual over Christmas. It naturally marks a new start and makes us reflect on the previous year and generally we tend to pick out the things we didn’t do so well rather than the things we did.

And then we come up with a whole list of things we want to change. We’re going to eat more healthily, get fit and stop spending all our time on social media. Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this but we set the bar too high and fail very quickly. Then we’re either hard on ourselves or make excuses for why we didn’t succeed.

Great swathing overnight change is almost never going to work so it is easy to be cynical around new year. However, there is no harm in using this time to be a springboard to incremental change that will help us achieve our main goals. To do this we have to hone in on what it is we really want and then pick out one or two things that will actually help get us there.

This is certainly true in running. If you’ve never run before it’s not realistic to start doing six days a week. Try one day a week and see how it goes. If it’s for you, sign up to a couch to 5k program in the spring. Maybe you’re a marathon runner and you want to get your time down. Instead of trying to go on a diet and ‘train harder’ and run more races why not just do one thing like add a strength session to your weekly routine.

If you’re already a runner but want to tackle your first half or full marathon then it may be easier than you think. You don’t have to be running six days a week and first timers can get round with a three day a week program. If you’re only running two or three days a week then this is an ideal way to ease you into achieving something new.

So I’m going to be positive about new year and invite you to think about things differently:

  1. Choose one thing to change/add/improve that will help with your overall goal. Remember that the initial enthusiasm of new year will wear off quickly so it needs to be something manageable that you know you can commit to doing. Most importantly, it needs to be something that matters a lot to you. If it doesn’t then ditch it.
  2. When reflecting on last year pick out one thing that went well and try to keep doing it. This is just as important as changing things in our lives, if not more so, because if we’ve already done something well we know what worked for us and can repeat it.
  3. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s ok to focus on one or two things and let some things go or put them on the backburner. There may be more that we want to do but there is only a finite amount of time and effort we can give.

Finally, writing these articles is one of the small things I’m adding this year. They will be based on things that have helped improve my running. If there is anything I can help you with please let me know. Have a great new year!


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