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Refocusing – Getting back on the horse

Hackney Refocusing

Around the blogosphere, there seems to have been a few race and marathon disappointments. I have had a few of these myself recently.

As disappointing as it is to work towards something, and not achieve your goal. It’s not good to dwell on it too long.

What is shows is that you’ve put in the hard work, just how f*ckin’ hard it is and what it takes to get those times.

I previously wrote about what I called the PB (PR) trap. At the start of your running career, the PBs come thick and fast. You feel great, then complacency sets in, you rest on your laurels, then try to claw yourself back to where you once were and you don’t quite make it.

Sometimes it’s just not your day. Be it build up (injury) or the day itself (weather). A girl I know from BMF has really put in the training for a marathon. I see her week in week out and have seen the progress she made as her strength went up and up. She was disappointed with the Brighton Marathon (I’m not sure why), but the first thing she did was sign up for the Bournemouth Marathon in October.

That’s what you have to do. You get back on the horse.

Putting in the work

If you’ve had a disappointment and you are really honestly with yourself. Did you put the required effort in?

If you did. Do you need to up it?

What else could you do? Speed work, track work, strength work.

Is running on your own working? Do you need to join a club and get some competition?

Did you really stretch after every session? And really warm up and down?

Did you do the little things? – hydration, diet, recovery.

When I thought about this, the phrase below came to mind-

“Are you living the (athlete) life?”

At first, this sounded a bit over the top. Then I thought, I may not be being paid, but there are plenty of things I can do within and around my daily life and running to improve. It could be as simple as knocking the evening glass of wine on the head for a few weeks or getting a run of early nights in before a race.

Do you think of yourself as an athlete? Maybe you should. An athlete can be defined in plenty of ways.

Nike co-founder and Steve Prefontaine’s coach Bill Bowerman put it well –

“If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Not everyone is a natural runner. There’s the odd outlier. But is not a reason to say you can’t do it what you want to do.

There are plenty of people who hated PE or gym, never ran in their life, and then found they had a knack for it and became quite good and you could be the same.

Everyone has their own journey and there tend to be a few bumps in it.

It brings me back to the quote

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

– Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

Is your head right?

In Britain, we have a tendency to undersell ourselves. People say to me –”Oh, you run don’t you Iain” to which I reply in some self-depreciating way, belittling what I actually do so it doesn’t sound too grand.

“Who, me! No, I just go for a couple of runs in the evening when I have time.”

It has recently become clear that I have and overconfidence issue. Or to put it another way, I have an “It’ll be okay” mindset. Which can manifest itself as lack of preparation.

It’ll be fine. I’ll just turn up and knock it out of the park.

Not always the case. I could be living my athlete life better.


  • Set your goal (complete a particular distance, to be fit for a race, to achieve a time)
  • Is it SMART? (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)
  • Create/check your race schedule – think a little longer term. Should you plan in a number of preparation races with the aim to hit your goal?
  • Create/revise a realistic training plan. There is plenty of help available online.
  • Think – What are the little things you should be doing or the things you shouldn’t be doing?

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