This is a little pep talk for those who have taken on a running-related New Year’s resolution and have hit that (inevitable) second week slump.
You may have decided to train towards a new PB (or ‘PR’ for our US readers), or to train for a marathon or half, or even just to pick up running from scratch. The first week is easy because the goal is exciting and new. But reality begins to set in when you hit week two. So, here are some ideas to keep you going and at least not lose focus on the New Year resolution before January is over!
Expect Hurdles: Jack Daniels (the famous running coach, not the drink) says that it takes your body about 2-3 weeks to adapt to a new intensity of training. And many new runners talk about a two-week hurdle where they see little growth in ability and each run is just as hard as the first (possibly getting harder) up until that two-week mark.
But stick it out for those full three weeks because all of a sudden your body will catch up and say, ‘Right, it looks like I am now a runner’s body, here’s the muscles, ligaments and lungs necessary for doing this running thing daily.’
The 10-min Hurdle: As well as the two-week hurdle, on every run you’re likely to encounter all sorts of physical and psychological negativity that will prevent you running, if you let it. The weather, cold muscles, Facebook, the cookie jar, stiff joints … anything can make getting out the door and getting through that first 10 minutes such a challenge.
This is where you need to play games with your mind. Here are some ideas:
- Run so early (having prepared your running gear the night before) that you’re out the door before your doubting mind realises it.
- Run with a friend so you can be each other’s good conscience.
- Take that cookie from the jar on your run, but only allow yourself to eat it once you’ve run 10 minutes.
- If you’re really stuck, say to yourself that you’re just going to go out for a 10 minute run in one direction and catch the bus home. Chances are that once you’ve passed that magic 10-minute hurdle you’ll go another 30 or 40 minutes no problem.
Multi Tasking Incentives: Buy an iTunes album or audio book, but only allow yourself to listen to it while running. Be strict on this rule. This works great if its your favourite artist or author and also helps to provide positive associations with your runs.
Focus on Form: I would say that running style is the biggest weakness of beginner runners and casual joggers. Not only does poor form contribute to injury and slow you down, but it just feels uncomfortable and, to use the phrase again, creates negative associations.
Watch a top Olympian run. It looks effortless and smooth. And, just like you would if you were taking up swimming (or even cycling—learning to use the gears and mechanical components), it is important to make it one of your running goals to feel effortless and smooth when you run.
Now this takes years to perfect, but huge gains can be had in just a few weeks buy intentionally running with correct form for your body and for your running speed. More thoughts to come on this topic in future posts.
I hope these tips help to get your trainers strapped on and all the best for your New Year’s goals.