- Consistency rules in running. But life gets in the way. We skip a session here and there. That eats away at our consistency. How can we not miss a day of running?
Anyone can put together a good week of training. Most will put together 2 weeks. The numbers drop off at a full month. How many can back it up month after month?
Life, family, work, injury, health and my own head have all gotten in the way of consistent training over the years. Since returning from injury I’ve turned that around. This is what has worked for me.
- Know Your Goals
- Know Your Weaknesses
- You Can’t Do Everything
- Keep The Plan Simple
- Use Friction
- Switch On Switch Off
1. Know Your Goals
Be clear on your goals. The doubts will set in. When they do it really helps to know what you are striving for.
I chase goals that register something deep in me. Understanding what I want out of running helps with this. Further thoughts on this are in Run Alive.
Putting the goals in writing as clear, simple and measurable statements make them easy to reference. It leaves no doubt as to why I am training. Having these goal statements in a place I see often makes it easier to grind out a session when I otherwise don’t want to do it. Check out 2018 Running Goals.
2. Know Your Weakness
When are we at our weakest? When am I most likely to skip training? What’s my go to justification for slacking off?
Training at the end of the day is often a fail point for me. After a day of work, family stuff and assorted other items I find it too easy to justify skipping my run. By avoiding scheduling training in the evening I give this weakness less opportunity.
When my weekend falls on a weekday I have the advantage of training during the day. After dropping the kids off at school I run straight away. Trying to fit something else in before the run usually causes me to run out of time to fit in the training. Again I make a point of structuring my day to avoid this weakness.
3. You Can’t Do Everything
It is impossible to include every type of run in a training week. Trying to cover all bases just doesn’t work. Understanding there is a big cross over of training effects helps. Knowing what to prioritise is important.
Comes back to knowing your goals. Focus on what will lead you there. Then allow enough space and recovery to perform those runs well. Anything else is extra. Be careful with the extra, it usually gets in the way.
My main focus is aiming to run fast enough at the Wings For Life World Run to make it an ultra marathon. Along the way there I will be racing a 10km cross country. Using the 10km as a stepping stone towards the ultra marathon keeps me heading in the right direction. However, I have to accept it may not be my fastest 10km. Altering my training to achieve my fastest at the shorter distance will take me away from my big goal.
4. Keep The Plan Simple
Writing every detail in a long training plan sets it up to fail. I write out a basic overview which lists 2 to 3 key points for each block of training. As I come up to each block I right out about 4 weeks at a time. Each run is listed as a headline rather than a detailed description.
Headline: Long 40km
Description: Start very easy, making an effort hold back the pace over the first 3km. Then hold 5:35/km for the remainder of the run. Accept I will likely have to push the intensity heavily in the final 5km just to maintain pace. When running uphill focus on being relaxed but ensuring good form, don’t worry about pace. Use the assistance of gravity to bring back some of the time on the downhill.
The difference allows for the ebb and flow that occurs in training.
Check out Training Plan Overview 2018: 7 Steps To Setup Your Running for an example of how I keep the plan simple.
5. Use Friction
Make it easy to do what you want. Make it difficult to do the things you shouldn’t.
The more steps there is to do something the less likely we are to do it. I use this principle to get in my training before an early start at work. When the alarm goes off it be would easy to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep for a while. This is where I throw in some friction. Using my phone for the alarm I disable the snooze function. I place the phone a bit out of reach so I have to sit up to turn it off. There is enough in the way to make it harder for me to go back to sleep. My clothes and training gear are all set out from the night before. As a matter of habit I just put it on before my brain has had a chance to think.
Make it easy to develop those habits that get you training. Habits beat motivation.
6. Switch On Switch Off
Be on task. I have the urge to keep going over my training statistics and explore my training looking for the fine details that may help me get faster. Doing this over and over is a very inefficient way to spend my time. It also doesn’t lead to much improvement beyond just getting the basics right.
When training I get the most out of a session if I focus completely on it. Being free of distractions. It isn’t an easy skill to master, but it is a skill we can develop with practice. On a run I am only running. My concentration is on what I need to do now. Of course random other thoughts float into my head. They try to pull my attention away down another track. Being able to pull mind back on task works wonders.
This is a concept to apply to other areas of life. Essentially it is the act of mindfulness. I should place my attention into what I need to do now. That may be as simple as paying attention to what my kids are saying to me. It may be my work or getting chores done at home.
Being able to switch on and switch off allows me to get more out of the other areas of my life. As result it reduces the loose ends. This makes it easier not be distracted when it is time to train.
It isn’t easy to back it up day after day. It is something I’ve rarely been able to achieve. That is part of the journey. Trying to make the hard a bit easier. Running consistency does get rewarded with results.