I love running, but it’s a bit like riding a rollercoaster, your runs can alternate between the points of feeling invincible, excited and exhilarated to the point of sending you crashing down feeling sad, disappointed and desperate.
How can two runs make you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster, what did I do on Monday that was so different to my rubbish run on Wednesday. How can I train and run a marathon/half marathon/10k/5k and then the next week can’t even run a mile without feeling as though I’m running in lead boots. Does this sound familiar?
When people first start running, everything is taken so seriously, we make sure we have eaten enough, drunk enough and that our kit is laid out ready to go. We make sure we are consistent, we do our homework and the end goal is always in sight.
We achieve our goal…what next? A 10k? “what me? Oh go on then, oops I’ve signed up”
A half marathon? “no I couldn’t” “Wow I have!”
A MARATHON!! “Yikes I did it!”
When training for a long distance (and really 5k is a long distance, remember it is a car journey, most people wouldn’t walk it”) sometimes we take for granted how many miles we are doing, if you walk out of the door to run any distance, you really should take it seriously. Did you have breakfast? Did you have a drink the night before? Is this your only run of the week?
All of these small things matter and as you become more experienced you will learn what works for you, what you can and can’t get away with. But the brilliant thing about running is that whether you have a good or bad, short or long, goal pace or easy, there is always something to learn from every run. While these ups and downs can be tedious and strenuous and at times can make us want to give up they are what levels us out in the end, so we can make it to the starting line knowing what works.
I love competition and I am competitive with myself, competition exists everywhere and is good for us, it shakes off complacency and can lead to outstanding achievements. Most of us have a desire to better ourselves (see above 5k?10k? half marathon? marathon?) and see how far we can push ourselves, but my job is to make sure you do this in a safe and supportive environment so that you make the start line of your next goal.
With running we can sometimes lose sight of the goal and have too many (it’s exciting to achieve so much when for years you thought that you couldn’t) and too many goals make it impossible to achieve any of them sometimes and the consequence of this is that we then come crashing down on the roller coaster ride and feel disappointed, despondent and sad.
My advice is to have a clear vision about where you would like to be, you might not know yet, but it’s worth sitting down and thinking about what’s next. Write you’re your goal for the next 12 months, really visualise what you would like to achieve, Olympic Athletes don’t sort of vaguely kind of see themselves winning the race, they really mentally rehearse how they get there and plan the process. And whilst all of this is central to success I can’t stress enough the importance of not outrunning the love of running by putting too much physical or mental pressure on the body.
Running any distance should be enjoyed as a celebration of hard work rather than a test to see how far you can push yourself on any given day. There is no point, in my opinion, of completing a race and then retiring from running feeling burnt out, injured or disappointed.
Reflect, learn and congratulate yourself for being a runner, move on so that the roller coaster ride can level out. And don’t forget to respect the miles J