At the start of the year I had two clear goals:
- Raise £2,000 for projects in the Gambia, continuing to help improve income, health and nutrition.
- Run 100 10kms throughout the year, and get back into fitness and enjoying sport
(The very good news is the fundraising has taken some positive turns this week, but I’ll save that for a future blog…)
Too Many Sub Goals
The more I planned the 100x10k MegaMeter Challenge, the more I thought about some personal sub goals I would like to achieve along the way. Some of those I pencilled in my early blog, and some lay more quieter and deeper in my subconscious but drove me with just as much passion (e.g. getting out of the house with something I could enjoy all year round and dodging the winter blues – 5 years overseas had left me struggling with UK winters!).
Those stretching goals I pencilled in my blog gave me something to think about. They included a sub 40 minute 10km as well as a sub 80min 20k or 85min Half Marathon, and a sub 3hr:10 marathon (with sub 3 hrs being the ultimate dream).
Not long into my 100 x 10km challenge I realised a few things. I had conflicting goals.
Improving a 10km time is difficult when all you ever run is 10ks. It kind of goes against immediate logic. You would think the more you run of them, the better you should become. Truth is, breaking the goal up and training on different elements would be more effective. I could have benefited from more short runs, let my legs recover and worked on improving my pace, but whenever I hit 3k I thought “Well I’m almost a third of the way through, I might as well continue and tick off a 10k”. For the first few months, when I ran a 10k I was not planned enough to run varying paces to work on different elements and build up different strengths. Instead I ran ‘fairly’ flat out and neither broke great ground, nor held back for future runs. Nor did I work on upper body strength, core fitness, or any other strength outside of the running. So I was on track to achieve my 100, but was I improving time?
Find Your Goals and Focus
I’m not saying all of those early goals were impossible together, but with 100 other commitments outside of running I soon realised I had to prioritise and work out which goals mattered the most. And then Focus!
I questioned myself. I knew I could do press-ups, and sit-ups, and squats and hill training, and sprint training and really give a few more of those goals a push. Was I being lazy? But deep down that was never what my goal was about, it wasn’t what drove me, or what made me happy. What drove me was the running. Hitting the streets regularly, with variety, in a bunch of different locations, with a bunch of different people making friends and enjoying the pure natural joy of sticking to runs that I was comfortable with and made me smile.
So a third of the way into the year I ditched the Marathon ideas, and signed up for one the following year in 2017 – that helped remove that distraction and focus on the goals in hand. It was one of my better moves.
As a trade off, I have however managed to stick to running a Half Marathon distance, once a month (that’s 8 to date), and I havn’t focused on times and they have been a pure enjoyment.
So when Paisley 10k road race came along this month I was happy. I had survived a few mojo less moments, a swollen foot and a collapsed lung. I had run in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Isle of Arran, Loch Lomond, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Southend, Dunstable, Woburn centre parcs, South France, and Lamin and Basse in The Gambia. I had ran with a bunch of communities and made a heap of cool like minded pals who, like me, just love running. But almost 8 months had passed and one thing was still missing….. the sub 40 minute run.
This Megameter run was a 10k challenge, so my 10k time goal was one that needed to be achieved. There was no making excuses for this one. Pressure on.
I hammered out a few 10ks in short succession but nothing close enough to 40. August came around pretty quickly and before I realised it I was in centre parcs. I only manged 1 run over the 4 days and ran flat out but a single hill almost killed me. Still couldn’t get close enough to 40! The week before the Paisley race I didn’t get a chance to run, stretch the legs, or think about my diet. I was just far too busy. The morning of the run I didn’t get to stretch or run a few km to warm up properly.
But one thing was in my favour, I hadn’t had a chance to over think it. When the time finally came I opened my stride, forgot so much about training, or single km goals, or the Garmin watch on my wrist and what the data was or was not telling me and simply enjoyed a spectacular run and I was back again to being focused, but being happy.
I ran a good race, stuck well to a game plan without thinking too much about it and to my surprise I had crossed the line in 38:57, comfortably under 40 and a new PB!
As always I think there’s a few lessons for life. Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster.
Be clear about your goals. The ones that really motivate you, and then relax and focus, but most importantly enjoy!
p.s. sub 37?