Hello everyone! I hope that you are all well and feeling fit and healthy?
Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of updates and blogs over recent months. Simply, I have been a busy boy with both business and my own exercise and something has had to give. Looking back through my diary for the last few months of 2012 I realise that I have a few things to bring you up to speed with!
Although December was a bit quieter, it is fair to say that October and November were a busy couple of months for me in terms of training and events. Some went ok and some maybe not quite as planned, and it got me thinking about how we respond to success and set-backs. Do you use them to your advantage, get the most from each experience, allow them to halt your progress or even set you back?
It has been said by a man much wiser than me that
“it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”
I am sure that you have heard the old saying that it “isn’t a failure unless you fail to learn something from the experience”?
This message can be used when analysing both your successes and perceived “failures”. Our aim is to use ALL of our experiences to drive us on and increase our chances of success in the future.
Let’s bring you up to speed on my own experiences during November…
Firstly, my longest run ever (at just short of 19 miles) took place on the 11th November. To be honest I was pretty confident about the event as it was simply being used as a training run and at a slow pace compared with my usual shorter runs. Running at between 8 and 9 minute miles, I felt fine until the last mile or so and completed it in just over 2:40. For an off-road event I was pretty happy about the outcome and took great confidence from this for the upcoming Norwich Half Marathon that took place on 25th November.
Unfortunately, that didn’t go quite as I had hoped…
Having previously only run one half marathon I can not profess to being an expert but I had undoubtedly learnt a lot from the previous experience (where I had gone out too fast and completely “blown up” in the last 4-5 miles). I had been getting used to running at a more steady pace in the build up to this more recent attempt and was pretty happy with how things were progressing.
When it came to the day of the event we were treated to high winds and cold temperatures that were effectively blowing us backwards from the start! I still felt confident and went with my game plan and, to be honest, was running pretty comfortably at my target pace. However, to cut a long story short, at around 5 miles I noticed some pain and lack of mobility in my ankle, by 6 miles it had developed and by 7 miles I was eventually forced to retire. My body had broken down on me and I had to take what felt like a “walk of shame” back against the flow of runners still making their way around the course.
My target was to break 1:40 and seeing the competitors I had been running alongside all comfortably breaking this (approx 1:37-1:38) at the finish really hit home and made my frustration even worse.
For those of you that don’t know me, it’s fair to say that I do not like not hitting the targets I set. Therefore, it’s probably fair to say that I wasn’t the most fun to be around for a day or two!
Looking back at it now there are lessons to be reminded of from this experience:
1. Listen to your body.
I had been experiencing some discomfort in the week building up to the event but had ignored it and hoped that it would go away. If I had been suffering with it earlier in the year I probably would have looked into it in more depth. I had simply let my event target cloud my senses and stop me from taking it as seriously as I maybe should have. Do not ignore “niggles”. Get them checked and work with them ASAP.
2. Listen to advice.
This may come from professionals, friends, family or numerous other sources. It may not always be good advice and you don’t always need to follow it but listening to it and then appraising it is always recommended. On this occasion I didn’t listen to my own advice. If a client had suffered with the same issues as me in the week building up can I say that I would have told him to do the same things as me? In all honesty, no!
3. Focus on the process.
Although we generally set ourselves specific goals when it comes to events, we quite often forget to drill down on the details of what will get us to those goals in the first place. The idea of running sub 1:40 had taken away from the idea of running relaxed, with good form and steady breathing irrespective of the environment on the day. It is possible that the severe weather on the day changed my running style to a greater effect than it should have, thus leading to increased stress on my body and ultimately the breakdown of my ankle. An ineffective process will not lead to an effective outcome! Bear this in mind whatever your goals may be.
4. Don’t beat yourself up.
There will be times when things don’t go to plan, that’s the way of the world. What separates those that are ultimately successful from those that are not is how we respond. Simply “beating yourself up” without a proper de-brief about where things may have gone wrong (and how you can limit the chances of them happening again) will not help you in the long term. It is natural to feel disappointed, frustrated, sad or angry after feeling you have “failed”. However, using this to improve future process and to motivate you onwards is essential. Feel sorry for yourself if you want (as I did) but get over it quickly and move on. Do not let it stop you, change your planned course or hinder your progress. Ultimately, injury stopped me this time. It was not due to going off too fast and I was on track to hit my target until the ankle issue took hold. In that sense I had followed my plan, my process was working and I could take positives from the experience for next time (which there will now have to be!)
Never stop learning and never be too proud to admit your mistakes.