Happy New Year! I trust you’ve made your New’s Years resolutions?
I’ve spent past years resolving to be perfect – a perfect runner, a perfect wife, a perfect coach. A bit of a born perfectionist, I constantly disappointed myself because perfection is difficult if not impossible to come by.
We can however, choose to be better than we’ve been before.
So in 2014, I want to be better than I’ve ever been before. In fact, I want to run a marathon PB, achieving my sub 3:21:00 goal. Which would be better than my last PB (by 12 minutes – but who’s counting).
And I want 2014 to be your best year yet too!
How, you ask?
Here are 3 tips that will specifically help you to be a better runner:
1. Define your motivating factor.
There are two types of people. The first type (let’s call them the go-getters) set their sight on a goal and then simply chase it down, blowing aside any obstacles as they come across them. Sometimes they stumble – but they simply pick themselves back up and keep going. It’s hard, it’s work, but it’s also fun and extremely rewarding.
Then there’s the type of person (let’s call them the dreamers) who want certain things but spend copious amounts of time getting upset with what would appear to be a never-ending stream of obstacles that get in their way of actually accomplishing their goals. They constantly look for validation their excuses are warranted. They are always waiting for the perfect time to “start”. They might actually start but they are usually false starts – a few days or weeks full-on and then reverting right back to their place of excuses.
I’m not mocking the dreamers – I’ve actually been this type of person in the past and, if I let myself, it’s not at all hard to revert back to this place. But I hate it there. So I make sure to keep myself up-to-date on my motivating factor – I need it in order to be a go-getter.
My current motivating factor stems from a strong desire to find out what my body is physically capable of as a runner. As a coach and nutritionist I have a vested interest in personally ‘practicing what I preach’. This wildly audacious marathon time goal I hold is borderline crazy – yet I know I am physically capable of it. It’s a matter of what combination of training, nutrition and rest will get me there.
You’ll notice I mentioned I know I can run a sub 3:21:00 marathon. It’s essential that you believe you can accomplish your goal. When I achieved my current PB, I had set out that day with 100% confidence that I could do it. You must believe in yourself. Better yet, surround yourself with people who believe in you (friends, family, coaches, trainers, teachers).
2. Map out your plan (or hire a coach).
Motivated? Good. Now get a plan. You’re not reaching any of your goals without one. Your plan needs to be both realistic and flexible, ideally mapped out in a chart or spreadsheet (not just in your head). For example, my running schedule is entirely mapped out in an excel spreadsheet for the next 30 weeks. My meal plans are set. My strength and stretching routines are in place. I’ve signed up for the races I’ll run (about one per month) in practice and preparation as I close in on my final Eugene Marathon goal.
In the past, when I did not feel confident I had the expertise to map out my own plan, I hired a coach. I’ve worked with 5 different coaches over the past 12 years, gaining immense and invaluable learnings from each one – and I’ve become a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and registered holistic nutritionist as well. I’m going after my sub-3:21:00 marathon goal self-coached this year but I wouldn’t ever underestimate the value of a coach, particularly if you haven’t the time to research the best plan to achieve your goal yourself.
3. Surround yourself with support.
You need to be motivated, you must believe you can do it and you have to have a plan. But if you don’t have support, all your best intentions might fall to the wayside. It’s ideal to have an accountability partner, training partners and people who are cheering you on, keen to help you and see you succeed.
I have the full support of my husband, who trains alongside me with his own wildly audacious goals. I’ve adapted my training schedule so that I can run some of my training runs, especially the longer ones, with the Wednesday night and Saturday morning run group just up the street from me. I’m looking at joining a Thursday night group as well.
Join running groups, share your goals with family and friends, find a training partner who has similar goals as you do. Hire a trainer or a coach who is able to check in with you at least once or twice a week.
Well, I’m off to be the best that I can this year and chase down my sub 3:21 marathon (translation: I’m now heading out the door for an 8km training run on this first day of 2014).
What about you? How will you do better this year? How will you be better? Let me know your goals for 2014 in the comments below.
Happy running 🙂
Sarah J Cuff, RNH, PTS