Hi guys I hope you are well and enjoying yourselves out there. Some great events have flown by over the last few weeks and it’s exciting to see people who have connected with me on Instagram and Facebook sharing their results and achievements.I am loving hearing about how you are getting on and also what goals you are setting for the future. So keep up the good work and keep the posts coming
I’d also like to say a quick thanks for all of the feedback over the last few weeks. It took me a little bit of convincing to actually start writing this blog, when I was approached initially I wasn’t sure I had much to offer or that people would want to read about my exploits. The kind words and encouragement have been overwhelming and I hope I can keep motivating you in some way towards reaching your personal goals.
This month’s entry is a topic that I’m sure a lot of you can relate to. I was going to write about this at some point and having recently had a large discussion with my boss Ben about it I thought I’d put something down on paper while it was still fresh.
A couple of questions I am often asked are “how do you manage your schedule?” or “where on earth do you find all that time to train?”
Life is always going to be busy and using the old saying “I’ll commit to blah blah as soon as I’ve finished such and such” is always going to be a hollow commitment. As soon as one time consuming activity finishes, something else will surely sneak up and fill its place. Running is a lifestyle choice and I guess what I’m trying to get at is that our success is not only measured in the results on race day, but also in managing our schedule during the weeks and months leading up to an event.
For me it’s a juggling act between family time with Julia, 2 year old Emily and our border collie Jess. On top of that we have been renovating an old 1930’s bungalow that is thankfully almost finished after 3 years and 1000s of hours of frustrations. Last but not least my job can, at times, totally overrule my schedule with very little notice, as I’m sure you can expect when working for the Military. For instance for the last 6 weeks I have been working around 60-70 hours on a very intense course that covers things like calculating and placing explosives while commanding a team of engineers in a combat environment. While this is all heaps of fun it’s also a lot of hard work, but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
The nuts and bolts of it
As we all know some training sessions aren’t great, in fact some can be down right terrible. We all have days where things just don’t click and the pressure of everyday life can easily hinder a training week leaving you feeling bummed and deflated. But with good systems in place you can measure and track your progress making it a little easier to forget those off days and not look back.
Here is some of the key things that help me put one foot in front of the other no matter what life is throwing my way…
Enter an event
This one speaks for itself really. I like to have a race every 12 weeks or so just to keep things fresh. By paying the entry fee the commitment is made, it’s fresh motivation to help get me out the door on those rainy days or early morning runs. Not only that but I’m sure anyone who has done one of these events will agree that the atmosphere on race day is infectious. Going from being the weird guy at work who runs to being just another runner amongst a huge bunch of people is a great feeling, and I love chatting with new people on the day.
Plan out each week
I’m a little bit old school with this one and fully believe that some things have to be written down. Every Sunday evening I sit down to plan out my training week based on my work schedule and then stick it up on the fridge. It’s nothing fancy just a table template made up in Microsoft excel that I print off and fill out by hand. It covers things like the type of run I will do, elevation gain, speed work sessions, the aim and, most importantly, the location for each run.
I think when planning that it is key to try and think about where you will actually run. It’s a huge help when you have had a crazy day and all you have to do is lace up and follow the predetermined session on your weekly plan.
Also try to get into the habit of thinking about the aim of the session in the planning stage. I’m a strong believer in the fact that every session should have an aim even if it is simply to have fun and go with the flow. If you are just running aimlessly at a random pace you aren’t maximizing your precious training time and will end up doing endless junk miles. Whenever I step off on a run I actually say out loud to myself what the aim is so that it is fresh in the back of my mind.
Sure rigid structure can take some of the magic away but this is simply a system I use when I know I’m in for a busy week. Also worth noting is I often have to swap days around but rarely do I miss a run altogether. If you do have to drop a run its no biggie, just prioritize the key sessions and avoid dropping the speed focused sessions or the long run, as these are the building blocks and should be priority within your weekly schedule.
With GPS running watches available now for less than $200 dollars there is a ton of programs out there that you can use to set weekly goals while they track your progress online. If you don’t have one I would seriously recommend making the purchase. They keep you honest and make sure you actually run the distance you set out the door to run.
Stretch out the day
Adults over 25 don’t really need more than 7 hours sleep, look it up if you don’t believe me. I have one or two pre works runs each week where I get up at 5am or earlier. Once you are used to it, it’s a really pleasant time of the day to run. Invest in some nice gloves and a good quality thermal top and you will most likely end up having to drop a layer like I do! On the other end of the scale it’s nice to get out for a late run every now and again as well if the day dictates it. Emily goes to bed at around 7.30PM so I go out for the odd run after she is asleep as well. These runs are often a good chance to let the day soak in and mentally prepare for what tomorrow may bring. It’s not rocket science but people ask where I get the time and it’s usually at the very end or right at the start of each day.
This is a good one! My work place is around 13km away from home, once a week I try to run there and back. This gives me an easy 26km day and is always a nice way to start the day. All it takes is a little prior planning by thinking a day ahead and leaving yourself some fresh clothes, a towel and some cash for lunch if you don’t want to run in with it on your back.
Keep track of how long it takes you and think of using the run in as a tempo workout. It’s a great feeling having done a hard session before the day has begun and it’s also a good measure over a distance that won’t change.
It’s a lot easier to get out the door when your running buddy is on the doorstep giving you grief for considering a sleep in! Having someone to keep you honest is great for the training, as the time seems to fly by while you chat away taking in your surroundings.
Another cool idea if you have a running buddy is taking turns planning out new adventures. When its your turn plan an interesting session like hill repeats on a new climb or just exploring a new trail, then when its their turn enjoy just having to show up with it all planned out for you.
This links up with what I said earlier about my job and the course I was on. Sometimes you can only do so much. During the course I had to drop my mileage significantly (around 30% less) but this is a much healthier approach than constantly missing sessions and weekly mileage goals. A key point for me during this period was that I would always get out for one trail run of over 30km each week even if it meant getting up at 4am to get it done.
A disclaimer that I can add from personal experience is to be wary of trying to catch up on lost kms after these crazy periods, as this is a quick road to injury. Its been hard keeping on lid on my legs over the last couple of weeks since the course has finished but I know how important it is to stay within a healthy increase in time on the feet.
While I know it’s not a very practical tip for some I have a nutty border collie who helps to keep me honest. If she doesn’t get a run every 2nd day she starts turning the lawn into what looks like a scene from the moon landing. Ask a friend if you can take their dog for a run, there isn’t much that can match the positive vibes and good energy of a happy pooch. Just don’t be that dog owner without poop bags whose dog does a big steamer in the middle of a shared walkway. Also don’t forget your dog’s needs while you are out on a long run with them. Pack plenty of extra water and a couple of doggy biscuits into your bag and enjoy sharing an adventure with man’s best friend.
It is so important to have the support of your family. Share your goals with them and make a plan to ensure you can train on certain days or at certain times. Its really all about balance and trying to keep things routine for the others in the household so that you cause them minimal interruptions but also keep them in the loop with your progress.
(A look at one of my weekly training plans. A strange week I wouldn’t normally run 6x 10kms but it was a little recovery experiment…)
At the end of the day the points I’ve rattled off are pretty simple, this is aimed at people who are finding it hard to get in their training hours or keep motivated while being put through the spin cycle of life.
There are a lot more avenues I could go down with this one but I think I’ve answered the question that prompted this rant in the first place.
I genuinely LOVE running so for me it will always be there and I will make sacrifices to squeeze it in if I have to. I love the training and think that if you aren’t enjoying your training you should backtrack and question why you are out there in the first place. Think about the fact that if you were to race once every 3 months you would spend around 60 days training to the one day at an event. Get yourself organized and into the right mindset so that you can enjoy those 60 days and the rest will blossom from there.
Of course you will have to make some sacrifices along the way, but in my opinion they are all worth it and you are not alone J
So if you are struggling take the plunge and enter an event, find a training partner, buy a dog or just offer to run your friends. Most importantly make a deliberate effort to plan out your training week because it doesn’t take a very big excuse to stop you from going out for a run when you have no game plan to follow.
I haven’t had a sleep in since I can remember, and Julia and I don’t usually sit down until around 9pm each evening. Life is busy but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Stay tuned