New Year and Best foot forward

January 01, 2024

For those who know me, I like to imagine I'm almost elite runner, or at least someone who has the potential to be. I continually set lofty ambitions only to get disheartened by the length of time it takes to make progress. While work and life can "get in the way", it comes down to putting the effort in. While there have been times I have pulled it all together, far too often there have been false dawns.

I know I'm not alone in saying this. Many of you reading may have set a goal of "I'll run sub 4, or sub 3...". Our ambition knows no bounds. Reality has other ideas.

I got back to a mediocre level of fitness last October, but found that it wasn't really coming together. A friend of mine, Gareth, puts this down to training without structure, and not building my engine. He was right, but if I'm very honest, there was also a bit of mental fragility there as well. When the going got tough on a few long runs, I didn't go searching for more. I'm not sure why that is, as the one trait I had 7 or 8 years ago was that I was "wirey" and would battle through regardless. For whatever reason, I find myself searching for that resilience. This year, it will be found!

While eating my fair share of mince pies, drinking more than my fair share of Glühwein, and whatever treats came my way, I knew that January 1st was going to be the kick up the arse I needed to get this sorted. I had to just get back in gear and get going. I entered a series of races around the country as mini-milestones to aim towards, in a way to have short term targets so I always have something to look forward to. As the countdown started for the end of 2023, and the start of 2024, I knew this was also the countdown for my own fresh start.

This story so far shares so much with what it is to be a runner. So much overthinking, over analysing. There is a time and a place, but put simply, I knew I had to run, I planned my route, and I ran. Getting up this morning, I knew it would be cold, but I layered up, found nice running socks, tied my laces, and went. Today was about doing a 5K and knowing that it would be a discovery session, to understand where my fitness was.

The run was ok, I enjoyed it. It felt refreshing to be out again and just getting going. I have no targets only to get fitter. And that in itself was refreshing. I wasn't running to a definitive time or anything like that.

For many of you who maybe getting into running, or getting back going, today's run may have meant you had to walk for some, or event most of it. And do you know what, that's totally ok. In fact, its brilliant! A widely used phrase is the hardest part of running is putting on your shoes, after that, the rest is easy. While I know the run itself may be difficult, committing to the task itself is the hardest part. Get over that, and you're going to succeed!!

What are the takeaways from this for your own running I hear you ask! 

1. Get your shoes on, and get out for a run, even if for only 5 minutes! You will 100% feel better for it.
2. Don't make any goals until you have run at least 50K in a month. If you have achieved that, you can keep achieving!
3. When you do make goals, make goals you can achieve. It is better to have set 20 goals and achieved them than set 1 and failed
4. Regardless of your level, every runner struggles. Talk to fellow runners, blog about it, share it. If you have an ache or pain, even if its embarrassing, we've all been there!

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