Struggling with running goals? Be kind to yourself…

Are you finding that time is quickly passing you by and that you are struggling to find the motivation to achieve the New Year goals you set yourself only a few weeks ago? I know I am and talking with friends, family and colleagues, many of us are feeling flat as one day washes into the next, leaving our emotional colour pallet bathed in varying tones of grey. 

Many of us are home working and we are missing those special social fun milestones where we connect with people and have a laugh, enjoy a drink or dinner out together. We are missing the highlights each week which help us to stay positive and upbeat in the face of life’s ups and downs, let alone against the challenges this Covid pandemic puts in front of us.

What can we do to get back on track?

Be kind to yourself

As ultrarunners we are goal driven and accomplished at pushing ourselves beyond other people’s limits, right…? This is all well and good when we are on form and in good shape, both physically and mentally. But these Covid times are sapping our energy so we should be less demanding on ourselves.  

That is not to say we aim to train any less frequently or intensively, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not feeling the love for dark and cold early morning or evening training sessions. Better to step back and recognise that we are in strange times causing different emotional stresses and strains and without the backbone of a normal life routine, it is no wonder that our training is suffering. 

So be kind to yourself. Remember, if you cannot love yourself you cannot love someone else or love what you are doing, so first give yourself some emotional space and permission to recognise what you have achieved so far and if your goals seem out of reach, then lower your goals until you are ready to re-evaluate them once again.

Go back to basics

The constant juggle: how to balance life with endurance running has never been so true, so once you have reset your goals write them down and set yourself a new plan and write that down too! Also think about mixing up your training routine. Whilst I am typically an early morning runner, at least one day a week I will run at lunchtime in order to enjoy some daylight as January mornings here in the UK are dark until around 7.30am.

Compartmentalise your priorities

Compartmentalising your life’s priorities will help to ensure you dedicate the right amount of time and energy across all the demands on your time; your family; possibly home schooling the kids; your training schedule and will help you to avoid falling into the trap of constantly working whilst at home. 

It is all about quality not quantity and trying to recognise the sense of joy and success from those quality moments you have set yourself. Bringing a dimension of structure and routine to your life may well help you to break that feeling of lethargy. My run streak has helped me throughout this Covid pandemic period, not running each day is simply not a question which enters my head.

And you know what it can be like when you’re feeling down, you miss a run or training session then a few days are missed, then a week … then you start feeling guilty and beat yourself up. Setting a routine which works for you is the key and then sticking to it, whatever your thing; run, walk, row, cycle, whatever ….

Set some good lifestyle treats 

I read an interesting article on the BBC this week Dry January: Will lockdown cause more people to give in? and I thought about rather than having a drink to reward ourselves, why not think about what areas of our lives could be improved through us making different choices? Why not replace that last glass of wine with a green tea? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you including enough balanced nutrients in your daily diet? By establishing healthier rewards, we can really improve the quality of our lives by making good lifestyle choices on the many elements of our lives which we can control.

So, stay safe and be kind to yourself, cheers

Andy

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