After a good summer and autumn of training, a few work and personal trips have “interfered” with a good run of consistent training. At the time of writing I’ve since had another bout of interference!
I’ve struggled to get up a few times due to the rain I can hear outside and the “don’t miss twice” mantra (see below) has been found lacking.
My attitude to training, running, and exercise has changed over the years. I was all about races and PBs and prepping myself for those events. Now, I just want to be fit, in shape and able to turn the speed on when I need to. It’s boring and it’s not sexy, but consistency is the key. The winter can do a good job of getting in the way of consistency.
If your aim is the smash every race going, then that might just be enough to get you through the winter. A big target like a spring marathon with a good training plan definitely did it for me previously and works for many. If like me, you just want to get out of the door more often with the least amount of resistance. Then here are 14 things to help.
Have gear you love to wear – It’s contradictory, in that I love kit, but I try to embrace a minimalist nature. Kit is not the be-all and end-all. You don’t have to have every bit of kit going for all eventualities. One of the beauties of running or outdoor bodyweight training is that it can be done with minimal kit.
If running’s your thing and you get a lot of joy and value out of it (and you can afford it), go a get yourself a nice pair of running shoes. I’ve recently got some new running tops (in the sale) and nice base layers (discount supermarket) and I love them. I pull them on, and I want to go an exercise. Having comfortable kit that fits you well and makes you feel good, really helps.
Look after your kit – Keep all your sports kit together and keep it organised. Always keep those essentials (gloves and hats) in the same place and always return them to the same place. Buffs can be used as a neck warmer, hat or headband and are easy to tuck away in a waistband or pocket when not needed. I have started to wear thin woollen gloves that are inexpensive and again, easily stored.
Keep your favourite kit clean – don’t let it fester in the washing basket. If the washing machine is not going on for a few days, rinse it out in the sink and let it drip dry in the bathroom or outside if feasible. You’ll be surprised how quickly sports kit drys.
Pick the right time – I’m very much a morning trainer. If it’s not done by 9 am, it’s very unlikely I’ll get it done that day. I don’t pretend that I’m going to do it later in the day. If mornings are not your thing or just too busy, figure out a time you can run. Is it lunchtime or is after work feasible? Can you fit it in? Does it need to be after the kids have gone to bed? If at night – tell someone where you’re going. Pick a sensible route. Be visible. Take a phone. Use a tracker. Take a bank card or have payment facilities on your phone. See my previous post staying about staying safe whilst out running
Make space in your day – make enough space in your day that you’ll enough time to get ready, go run or train, have a shower afterwards and doesn’t compromise whatever you’re doing next. This can start the night before and is often my downfall. If you have an early start, get an early night. If you go to bed at 6 am, are you getting up at 6 am? Doubtful.
Be organised – pull out everything you need (or think you might need) and set it out the night/morning/afternoon before. Don’t forget watches, bank card, phone, keys, and earphones. Make sure everything is charged. If you’re already pushed for time, trying to find a missing glove could compromise the whole session.
This is its own sub-section.
If it’s too bad, don’t go – for whatever reason – weather, time, commitments. It’s not the end of the world. One missed session in the grand scheme will make very little difference. Do see the last point of this sub-section.
Pick a safe and sensible route – one you’ll be able to complete if you have time limitations. If you stepped out late, cut a section out. “Little and often” beats “big and in frequent”.
Slow down – if you’re blowing and it’s a slog. Slow down. There’s no shame. You got out the door. Don’t screw it up by going too hard. Common parlance from running coaches is that most (if not all) people go too hard on easy days.
If it’s not working – cut it short! If it really is a pile of poo, just do what you can. Be it 15 mins or 2 miles. Again, little and often are all important. Making training and/or running a habit is the thing.
Don’t miss twice – possibly the most important point here. If you miss one day or session, try as hard as possible to make the next one. Do not make the opposite habit of always missing. If you do miss twice, just don’t miss thrice!!!
Change it up – I’m not mad about tempo or threshold runs. I run on feel. If I feel good, I go faster. If not feeling so good, I slow down or reduce the length of a run. I do like efforts, though. Upon slowing down or reducing the length of a run, I will put in several harder efforts or “sprints” over 50 to 100m. Commonly these are between lampposts, or to landmarks along the route (the next road, a parked car, a bus stop). I find it much more fun and makes the time and distance go past much quicker as your concentration is elsewhere. Feels badass too!
Mindset and Review
Be a runner – or a person who trains/exercises. I believe having a mindset saying “I am a runner” or “I am a person who trains in all weathers” and “I am a person who does not miss twice” really makes a difference. You’re not an occasional runner. You’re a runner and therefore you go running.
Review what works – If early nights and morning runs are going well and you’re loving life, then crack on. Otherwise, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The quote wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein, is very true. If your running or training is crap, you’re half arsing your job and your wife/husband is not happy with you, review what you’re doing. Time change. Duration change. Activity change. Be more organised. Be more communicative with family. Explain why it is important to you and why it benefits you and everyone around you, may provide a little bit of compromise.
The overarching view of this post is, that taking a series of smaller, more manageable steps, showing up every day (if you can) and doing little things every day, will get you to your big goal.