As we approach week 3 of 2018 how are you feeling? Have you succeeded in keeping your NY resolutions? Are you feeling flat and glum because Christmas was a write off due to illness or injury? If the New Year hasn't started out as you planned it to be then my advice is to ditch the NY resolutions and make a plan to achieve little goals throughout the upcoming year.
You all know I love a plan and I love little plans even more. Some runners just run and when a race comes along that they feel like entering they just do it, they don't really have a plan. Other runners have detailed plans that they to stick religiously, their year is seperated into phases and cycles with a specific training goal at the end. Sometimes it is so confusing and knowing what the right thing can seem chaotic and unclear.
Lots of coaches feel it's important to follow a detailed training plan and whilst I believe a plan is important to help reduce injury and to make sure you are ready on the start line, the truth is that the majority of runners want to enjoy running and want to enjoy doing well in several races over the course of a year and not just one.
I believe the most important aspect of training is for self improvement, mentally and physically whilst also having some fun and not taking running too seriously. Most people have outside factors that can affect training and whilst it would be lovely to be able to devote your life to running realistically a 150 mile week is highly unlikely (Shalane Flanagan NY marathon winner 2017 ran 130 miles a week whilst preparing for this marathon!).
I believe that training for an event is exciting, especially if it is your first one or if you have a specific time goal in mind. However when you train for an event, your first 5k or your first marathon your training requires that you put your body under a certain amount of stress so that your body can adapt to the stress, and subsequently get better and improve. Remember when your first minute felt like a marathon? Your body was stressed but you soon adapted to it this stress and as you adapted you became stronger and fitter and more able to run for longer. However as you progress and as you increase your miles you may find that after the huge surge of improvement of 0 to 5k that you may be a little disappointed as in the subequent weeks or months that there seems to be very little improvement in your perfermonce.
There is a fine line between doing too much too soon and actually seeing an improvement in your times as you increase your distance; remember life gets in the way sometimes, work, family and illness all play a part in how a training plan can pan out. I believe you do need a goal to focus on so that you don't plateau and become disheartened about your running. But running isn't always about beating last years time or how good you were 10 years ago, it's about what is happening right now, at the place you are right now. Small goals achieve outcomes, ok so you may have fallen behind in your training due to illness, injury or life but focus on what you can do today rather than what you could have done. You may not be able to beat last years time but could you run just because you can run, could you use the upcoming Stubbington 10k as a training run, even run with someone else to help them. Be kind to yourself, draw a line under what you thought you might have been able to achieve and focus on the here and now.
For those of you who have been with me for 2 or 3 years reflect on how far you have come and acknowledge the progress you have made and remember, your training age is still very young and we all have to have a downward trend in our running journey. It is our bodies way of adapting, winter is for hibinating after all.
Work out what you really want and write it down, a good brain storm can help you see what is really important to you. Have you entered races that you just haven't had the time to train for, have you set unrealistic goals and become injured as you've just been juggling too many balls in the air. Try setting realistic goals, maybe marathon training isn't for you just yet if you have a full time job and lots of family committments. You could focus on shorter distances that don't take up as much family time, set yourself a goal of trying out different parkruns in other local areas.
Talk it through with me, that's what I'm here for, be honest, send me your brain storm and see if there is anything I can suggest that will help you achieve your goal.
Do you need any extra help? Have you thought about yoga/pilates/strength training that would compliment your running.
Fun, yes running is meant to be fun and race organisers are trying to make it that way, big bands supporting you with music as you run past, food stalls, merchandise, massages, goody bags, medals of achievement. Most races now have a festival feel and are a celebration of running and whilst I whole heartedly support plans that will guide you to achieve your running goals, sometimes we have to just accept where we are right now, dust ourselves off, get up and start again with a different plan. Remember Shalane Flanagan, it took her 13 years to achieve her goal of winning NY marathon.