Stop beating yourself up - it's exhausting

There maybe many things that motivate you to run, research suggest that there are 6

Feeling good

Achieving goals

Having fun

Developing skills

Nurturning friends and family

Looking good

These top 6 aren't in any particular order, all are of equal importance but sometimes we loose sight of why we started running in the first place.

Sport by it's very nature is very competitive, we want to win, we want to beat other teams, we want to compete even with ourselves. New technology now allows us to do that in segments, how fast did I go up Strawberry Track, who did I beat, what was my time.  Numbers are embedded into our daily lives, how old we are, how much we earn, how many miles, how fast, what time is it, what was the score, what were your exam results.  Numbers are everywhere.

As a coach I am often asked how do I get faster? I hear friends and family telling their recently graduated beginner "you need to go faster". Those of you who know me will know that I roll my eyes a lot.

So I thought I might explain why. My coaching is embedded within the theory of Athletics 365 which is a multi-event young peoples development programme which introduces athletes to the fundamental skills of athletes which is vital in every sport. The programme is a progressive pathway and the curriculum has been developed using existing resources and material from all over the world and is supported by England Athletics.

The focus is to provide a base on which to build a great skills foundation with a focus on development stages and not the chronological age of the athlete. Athletics 365 focuses not only on how fast someone runs but also more importantly on developing the technical skills required to perform at full potential and move like a champion.  In addition to this it also looks at an athlete's physical, mental and emotional devlopment as well as their lifestyle and social development. 

In theory, this curriculum should be delivered to school age children (4-5 years old) and as they progress and develop with the programme when they reach their peak they should be obtaining Gold, Silver or Bronze medails and this can range from early 20's upwards.

However, most of the athletes that I coach join the programme with an older chronological age and a very young training age, they maybe 36 years old when they start running but have not particpated in sport since they were 14 years old.  So their training age would be very young even though they may not be.  If you take part in another sport then your training age will be older and this is why you will progress quicker as you are building on an already solid foundation.

With this in mind, my coaching and running programmes go right back the basics of building the skills foundation and the emphasis is on the development of these skills so that athletes progress safely and have fun.

I ensure that the foundations are solid so that they can be built upon; in real terms this means having a good base of slow and steady mileage.  Once you have got the foundations you can add some stepping stones that can help you achieve your goal.

Look at how long you have been running for, what is your training age, a few weeks, a few months, a year, even a few years. You may be still quite young, still developing skills, you may be having a bit of a stressful time, remember on the 365 programme athletes naturally go through the teenage years so everyone expects some kind of storm and stress in their lives.

My advice, just smile sweetly when someone suggests that you need to go faster, there is a time and place for this and put the stick down and stop beating yourslef up, it really is exhausing.