This article appeared in the Feb/Mar issue of Irish Runner magazine which is jam packed full of articles of interest to the competitive and fun runner alike. Go get it in your local newsagent or take out an annual subscription for €30 delivered to your door.
A desire or willingness to do something; Enthusiasm.
It all feels very easy in January when we are setting our resolutions. ‘I want to get fit’ or ‘I want to be able to run 5k’ are all achievable goals, our friends do it, we see people in the park running for what seems like miles and miles while we sip our cappuccino and watch the kids kick the ball around. But sometimes when our well-intentioned ideas just don’t seem to last, what happens then?
Well, Thomas Edison once said that our greatest weakness lies in just giving up, and he’s right. Why do some people have the strength to dust themselves down and get back on the wagon every time the enthusiasm wanes? What makes the person training through the winter put on an extra layer because the temperature is below zero? Much of the time it’s nothing special, maybe they’ve just found their motivation to keep them going. But focusing on the end goal is not just the realm of the elite athlete, it is well within all our abilities to work our way through the periods when we just don’t feel like going for a run.
I do understand that sometimes ‘life’ just gets in the way. Work, the washing up, shopping, school lunches, they’re all part of the day to day distractions seemingly designed to keep us from pulling on the runners and heading out the door. You’re not alone, ask any marathon runner and they’ll have the same problems but the difference might just be that they make time for their sport and you should too. These interruptions are predominantly simple excuses. You need to decide what’s important to you. If you procrastinate then these little things take over, you lose control and the tail starts wagging the dog. Take charge, enlist some help with the daily chores and make some time for yourself and your exercise.
Running is fun, I’ve never met a person who regretted going out in the fresh air, even for a short amount of time. Arrange to go out with a friend, set a place and a time to meet and stick to it, because neither of you will want to let the other down. Running in company ticks a lot of boxes, not least being that time passes quickly. When starting a training programme, time on your feet is much more important than speed or distance. Aim to go out for a set amount of time and if you walk for more than half of it, then that’s great because no one starts off as Sonia O’Sullivan. When you go out again just aim to add an extra minute of running to the plan, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be running more than you walk.
All over Ireland running clubs have started their ‘couch to 5k’ or ‘fit for life’ groups. These are specifically designed to ease beginners into running and to nurture a love of the sport – ‘But I’m not good enough to join a club’ I hear you cry! That’s the joy of running clubs, they’re welcoming, encouraging and are full of first timers all looking for help to get up and go. There is no pressure to run fast or far, your club coach will support you whatever your ability. Have a look at the Athletics Ireland website to find your local club
For many people starting off, 5k is the first distance you’ll aim for. Why not set yourself a goal to finish your local parkrun? As a free, timed 5k in over 60 locations nationwide, the weekly event is an ideal nursery for reaching your planned distance. parkrun is all about participation and welcomes walkers, joggers, runners, families, buggies and pets. Taking place every Saturday at 9:30 you will get a finish time, but don’t be concerned, parkrun is not a race. The wonderful volunteers will give you the encouragement to reach your goal and go the distance no matter how fast or slow you might be, sometimes there is cake at the end too! See parkrun.ie for more details on where your local run is and how to register.
So, next time you open the door and it’s wet windy & cold, don’t sit back down on the couch. Take control, remember your motivation and be the dog, not the tail.