Back on the road

Returning to a more personal note this month!  I’m Drew, and help to produce the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s blogs, news stories and social media content.  Back in July 2015, I blogged about a valiant, but what turned out to be an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to run 30 miles over the course of Men’s Health Week.

Well, I’m obviously a glutton for punishment, because I’ve signed up to do a marathon in May – my first ever.  So as I begin to slowly build up my training, I’ve been reflecting on what went well last time, and what I could do to improve my chances of sticking at it this time around.  Hopefully with some useful lessons for us all in there, whether we are training for the next ultra marathon/triathlon/mission to Mars, or simply looking to be more physically active.

1. Set achievable goals, but goals that are flexible for you. Last time my goal was clear (30 miles in a week) but inflexible – that’s too far to go to try and make up at the end. Not a lot of room for sickness, injury, or in my case, overwork. This time around, I’ve set myself a steadily increasing goal for either miles run or supportive exercise. Not too much to start as well, given that I’ve got a little under 3 months to go and don’t want to peak too soon!

Fitting in a run from work can be good…

Fitting in a run from work can be good…

This is a good way to keep yourself motivated; there will be times when you are looking to exercise more or be more healthy, and circumstances will intrude. We have jobs, other people in our life who demand our time and other interests to pursue. If you can set yourself some minimum goals, as well as stretch ones, then this should help you keep flexible but on track.

 

2. Let the steam out of the kettle – in other words, identify and allow yourself times for breaks or treats.

I can’t believe those kids overtook me again…

I can’t believe those kids overtook me again…

For starters, I’m doing a minimum of three runs a week. But if I do better than that, or make the runs longer, I’m going to give myself the next one or two days off after a run. That’s good for my recovery but also will help keep me motivated.

If you are too strict to begin with – whether that’s trying to eat no sugar at all, go to the gym every day, or simply are too down on yourself if you miss a goal – then you’re more likely to get frustrated, disillusioned and then stop. That’s my plan, and it seems to be working well so far. Last week, I did two 10km runs at the start of the week, but then had to knuckle down for work for the next four days. However, on Sunday I decided to go for a longer run, and 11.5 miles later, I was still feeling energetic. Well, you know, not that energetic, but much better than I thought I would.

Now that’s a route!

Now that’s a route!

3. Vary your routine – similar to the above, if you try to hit your goals by doing just the same thing, the result is likely to be boredom and then abandonment of what you are trying to achieve. I’m looking to mix things up with my running; I’m running 3 different local routes, and then picking a fresh long route for my weekend runs to keep things interesting. I’ve also started to mix up the speeds, with shorter but faster runs, and then longer, slower paced ones. You can apply this kind of mix to any kind of sport or physical activity. Likewise, if you are looking to eat healthier, make sure you have a range of dishes on hand to keep things interesting. Oatcakes and water might be what you think you need, but as a diet, that’s going to get old, fast!

And with that point, I think that’s enough sitting at my desk. Time for a jog!