Training for any kind of running event that’s further or harder than what you’re used to requires change. More kilometres, more hills, more evenings with a red face and sweaty t-shirt. I’m going to talk running, but this could refer to anything really. (For me, running is often a metaphor for my life – a mixture of enjoyable good days mixed with hard up-hill slogs, red faces, occasional achievement, and being slightly undignified under pressure!)
Any goal makes for great motivation. Six weeks to get to 5 km, ten weeks to get to 10 km or three months to get to a half marathon… whatever it might be, deciding to do something, anything, will probably help get you up and at it.
You see, if you’ve decided to do something (let’s say the easiest leg in a team marathon – my current goal), you’re more likely to put on your trainers and leave the house. And let’s say it’s been a tough kind of day and all you’re really doing is going through the motions, you might tell yourself you’ll just go out and do 4 km, nice and easy. When you get to 4 km, you can pat yourself on the back, say well done. It’s four more kilometres than planned. It’s four in the bank.
But this is where I think there is some wonderful jiggery-pokery. Some marvellous medicine that comes from having something to work for, something about which you care.
Because, when you’ve done a bit, the hardest bit in fact, got a few kilometres under your belt, a few lengths of the pool, a few sentences in German out clearly, to ever get to that point again, where you go a little bit further, you’d have to start again. Right from zero. If you’ve done a mile and need to do two, stopping after one means starting again tomorrow. From zero. That’s one plus two. Three. Rather than one, plus one more now. Two. Keeping going makes sense. Maths says so. And your brain seems to know too. That’s why you can push yourself when you least expected it.
Because it might be well done for getting going, well done for doing to the hard bit. And if you’re already half way up that hill, go for the top. You’ve got this far, you may as well keep going. You’ve got this far, you can go further.
[I don’t usually go in for ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ with little posts, but I should add that sometimes if all you’ve got is getting out of bed or getting out of the house, that’s fine. Your limit is your limit and no one else’s business.]