Goal Setting for the topsy turvy runner
I love to train, I love to run and I'm not lacking in motivation. However, ever since I can remember if someone tells me to do something, even if I know it's the right thing, I feel obliged not to. There have been improvements from my school days when as soon as Mum Franklin told me to do my homework I would do everything in my power to not. Even if I tell myself I need to it I can find a reason to do something similar but not the same and this is the reason I have trouble sticking to training plans. In addition to this my energy levels fluctuate hugely and some days the thought of running up hills or around in circles blowing like a wheezing sloth is not appealing.
There's a bit of me that's envious of the runner or athlete who can stick to a training plan, doing their long run every Sunday and a speed session every Tuesday. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are recovery runs with 2 drill sessions a week following Jack Daniels or whoever's training program word for word.
The most important thing I've learnt since my undergrad in Sports Science is to listen to everyone but do the same as no-one. After a bit of over racing last year I thought I'd approach 2016 and attempt to find a way for a rambling runner to gain some structure without having to stick to a weekly schedule.
What have I done differently?
Very simply, I've bought a calendar and written down the races which are important to me. That's it, Pftzinger eat your heart out!
Although this would be an improvement on previous years goal setting I have gone a little more in-depth...I've ranked the races in importance (A, B, C & training races). These are easy goals to create but a little harder to evaluate. I've not done a number of the races before so how do I decide whether I've been successful and if I have done the race before the outcome is dependent on so many variables; weather, health, sleep, work. In an effort to gauge improvements in performance I've chosen some more quantifiable goals. Track times, park run times and personal bests on local hill climbs are a few of the ways I've chosen to do this.
Example month - This was one of my first drafts and after trialling this method for a few months have changed a few things
As I mentioned above, I'm not a great fan of week by week training diaries/plans so I've opted for a broader training period and have opted to train on a month by month basis. Within a month the training is dictated by the races in the succeeding months, I've assessed the areas I'm weaker in and areas which need to be good to do well in the races. Should it be a short fell race with a lot of height gain I would chose to do more short hill repetitions and plyometric training than long slow runs. There's an example of a typical month in the image above.
The thought process resulting in the monthly plan is based solely on my need to only do the sessions based on my health, well-being and mental effort. This does take an element of organisation and commitment, if I were lacking enthusiasm or motivation then I may just come up with an excuse to sack a session off, thankfully I'm not of this mindset, in fact I enjoy ticking the list of sessions in the month, culminating in a goal in itself. There are week by week goals as well, there are based on height gain, time on feet and mileage.
One of the most difficult sessions I've always struggle to implement is the 'Rest Day', I can't bloody do it! I have to go climbing or mountain biking or do DIY. The cunning plan which seems to be working thus far is to have a lie in and not wake up at 6.30am, arrange to have breakfast with someone, go to work and then arrange to go to the cinema in the evening, this way I can't fit a run in or any other exercise, Eureka!
Reflections. These were with out doubt one of my least favourite assignments at Uni, I despised them. I dislike writing about myself (Oh the irony!) and often felt it was a load of tosh but when it comes to sport and exercise reflecting back on previous training, competitions and the like is so useful. It's necessary to see how you've developed, what has and hasn't worked and potentially cracking the code to your perfect taper or training week. To do this you need to record your training, I use Strava, I like it and think it's a useful tool. However, looking back over the last 18 months I haven't written much about the runs and gleaning any useful information to apply to further training is difficult with out this. Therefore, I have the best intentions to be more analytical of the sessions and races I do, writing down my feelings and what was good and bad. The need for this has become more apparent since reading Attackpoint.
Screen shot from my Strava account. I'm now using the simple coding for 'Workouts', 'Races' & 'Basic Training'
As far as I'm aware there are a few key elements to Goal Setting which are worth considering:
- Be realistic - I'd love to run a 30 minute 10km but it's not going to happen in the near future.
- Challenge yourself - You need to be striving for something, if it comes too easily then it won't feel hard earned and vice-versa, if it's too difficult you may feel despondent. This is where having intermediate and quantifiable goals is useful.
- Write your goals down - I prefer not to tell everyone about my goals but do believe writing them down, preferably in a place where you frequently look, is a good way of keeping you motivated. Others prefer to be public about their goals, the thinking being that it gives you motivation to succeed or perhaps not fail.
It's really important to remember that we all different, we adapt differently and react to training stressors in a unique way. There's every chance I will need to tinker with this form of training in the coming months but currently I'm enjoying it. If you're setting your own goals and looking at your training then make it personal. Train hard when you feel strong, take it easy when you're tired, train with others to help push yourself and be willing to look at a session and make it your own.
Most importantly, get out there and enjoy being active, if you're physically able to do something then do it.
For those of you who are interested in speaking to us more about training plans then you can read about the services we offer in store here.
Happy running - Steve