Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year’s Running Resolutions (Part 1 of 3)

I took a little vacation from the blog for the last week or so for the holidays. Now I am back, and like most of you, I am ready to start off the new year and make it a good one.  I have already begun with my first race of the year which I will be reporting on later in the week.

Like most people I am full of hope and  good intentions, and I am not immune to the idea of resolutions to help keep myself on track, especially as they relate to my running. I try to keep it simple because I know from experience that keeping it simple is the best way to help ensure that I will follow through. I decided that three resolutions is about the maximum that I will be able to actually stick to. I posed the question to myself  “What three things, if followed through on religiously, would make the most difference in my running and help me meet my goals for the year?”

The first answer that came to me is “Be consistent.”  Since I started learning about what it takes to do well in running, this has always been one of the most important things to remember. It is such a simple concept, but at the same time it is so hard to do.  It almost doesn’t matter which of the training plans a person chooses (whether Galloway, Higdon, Hansons, Daniels, Pfitzinger or others), as long as the person follows through on it consistently.

Being consistent is not as easy as it sounds. First of all, for most people, myself included, life sometimes gets in the way. It takes planning to be able to get the running in consistently and a bit of self-knowledge. I know, for example, that I always have trouble being consistent at about week six through nine  of the quarter. I am overloaded with papers and things to do for work and tend to push the running aside. To be successful at being consistent, I have to plan for those weeks and not let the running slip.

Next, I have to deal with the whole motivation issue. This is a new issue that I have had to face. I am a pretty motivated person where running is concerned. I have a lot of intrinsic motivation and drive to improve, and I also respond well to extrinsic motivation. I will knock myself out training for weeks and weeks in the hopes of picking up some little plastic, glass, or metal trinket as an award (as evidenced by the number of coffee cups, martini glasses, beer glasses, and the belt buckle and ring that I collected last year and that are spread around my house).

HOWEVER, and this is a big “however,” that was before I moved to this cold and dark place. I am a California girl at heart and always will be, no matter how much I love Michigan trails in the summer and fall. It is excruciatingly hard for me to get up early in the morning to run when it is 20 degrees and gray outside. I try to get around this by waiting for the warmest part of the day (yes, 28 degrees is much better than 20 – at least in my mind), but sometimes by the time the temperature is agreeable, I am at the low ebb of my energy.  The process of getting on the layers it takes to run in this temperature sometimes seems too hard, let alone the idea of running itself.

To address this, I am now turning to something that I learned in this past year from the talk given by Lynn Jennings that I attended and wrote about (to read that post click here). This was actually not a point that I initially picked up on (probably because it was something that I did not really want to hear), but it was one that made an impact on my husband and which I have thought a lot about since that night. I am going to paraphrase here because I don’t remember Lynn’s exact wording. Basically what she said is that if a runner wants to excel, he or she can’t wait for motivation. Motivation does not always come. You just need to get out and do it, motivated or not.  That is powerful advice for all runners. Many of us wait for motivation to strike to get out the door. I know that I am guilty of this at times, and I know that follow-through on my training schedule has often suffered because of this, as have my race performances.

Thus, to stick to my resolution, I will remember the advice of Lynn Jennings (and the marketers over at Nike) and “Just do it.”  I have a color code system on my training schedule.  I highlight in green the days I follow the plan. Days where I do the workout but don’t quite meet the plan goals for the day are in yellow.  Days I miss are in red. I will be working to have no more than one or two reds per month. (Keeping a log and checking progress is also a key aspect of being consistent.)

Rest or Xtrain
4 mi easy
4 x 800 (3:30-3:35)
5 mi easy
4 mi easy
8-10 mi 4.5 mi.
4 mi easy
Tempo 15/20/15

If I can keep those missed days to a minimum, I know I will be a much better runner for it.

This is the first of my running resolutions. Tomorrow I will share resolution number two. How about you? Did you make any resolutions for the new year related to your running? If so, I would love it if you shared them in the comments. I like to see what other people are working on. 

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