Secret of Success: Goal Setting

Apologies, it’s been a month and a half since my last update. A lot has happened.

We bypassed the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans, rejoiced at having another Royal mouth to feed, enjoyed all of London’s fireworks from a festive Parliament Hill but most importantly, I ran 10 miles. 10 fricking miles.

Epic news only for me admittedly. Not only because this is my furthest distance to date but Monday 31st December saw me achieve my goal of running 10 miles before 2013. It also facilitated the discovery of two of life’s many secrets; the power of goal setting and the importance of the iliotibial band.

My ambition to run 10 miles was to prepare me to run 13 of those bad boys in January/early February so that I can achieve my ultimate goal in April;  the Virgin London Marathon 2013. Having mapped out my route on MapMyRun, I needed to know how far 10 miles felt as well as ensure my mind and body were prepared for it.

Although it took me a whopping 2hours12 mins, I felt absolutely elated when I finished the run. The adrenalin surged round my body. I punched my hand into the air. Truly victorious.

Achieving my goal made me feel as if anything is possible. Even running 26.2miles.

So as I settle in to 2013, I know I’ve got an exciting year ahead. I just need to set achievable goals, run my own race and make sure I map out where I want to go. And I’m not just talking about running.

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Running with the Running Community

At the beginning of November I ran my first ever 10K at the Mornington Chasers Regent’s Park 10K Winter Series.

Having (unfortunately but sensibly) forgone friends’ parties respectively celebrating 40th birthday and hen do the night before, I turned up at Regents Park at 8am in preparation for a 9am start. A valuable lesson I learnt from my first ever 5K.

The weather was heinous. Super cold with torrential rain.

Lovely.

But it didn’t matter really. It just added to the excitement of my task that lay ahead. Besides, I had psyched myself up sufficiently. Luckily Chris, my trainer, had bestowed a few words of wisdom the night before when the panic in me began to rise as a head cold suddenly developed.

Runners (of all ages) started piling in to register their number. The feeling that I had been internalising became a shared group experience as more than 250+ people gathered and excitedly talked to friends and strangers alike. The atmostphere was thrilling. There was a real buzz. Everyone was so friendly.

And that’s one of the things I love about this new hobby of mine. The running community.

I didn’t really know it existed. Or rather, I wasn’t fully aware of it’s magnitude or reach before I spontaneously decided to run the London Marathon.

But I love the running tips you receive from different people – either online or face to face – as they share their own experiences of the sport (a reason why I started this blog)

I’m indebted to:

  • the woman who registered my number and advised me to only wear a vest top and waterproof jacket (3 layers she said was overkill – and she was right);
  • the 45 year old man I met before the race began who broke down the race into laps (that got me through the difficult second ‘already halfway there’ lap and gave me an unbridled energy for the third ‘practically home’ lap);  as well as
  • the unflinching encouragement of the stewards who stood in the pouring rain and spurred me on when I felt like stopping.

Running is a strange beast. You get a sense being truly part of something and yet we all have to run our own race. Even amongst all those runners, the only person we are truly running against is ourselves.

When I crossed that line at 1: 09 the feeling of achievement pumped round my body with the same robustness as the blood in my arteries (and I sprinted the last 200m). Although I did stop three times to stretch my calves with each lap, there were even times where I entered into a meditative state. (albeit briefly)

The next one is on Sunday 2nd December. Will you be joining me?

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5K and beyond

My plan was to start a blog right at the start of my Marathon journey. Not only to fully document my progress but also hold the virtual hand of any other running virgins who have suddenly decided to take up running.

But now I’m 7 weeks in to my training. Gah! I have a new 6 week plan and an actual running race under my belt. A 5K one to be precise. At Ally Pally. With other people!

Admittedly they all sped off into the distance as soon as the race began. I just managed to overtake one red-faced runner, but that second to last place – at 37 minutes – felt glorious. To think, at the beginning of August I could only jog for 30 seconds before my chest felt like it was going to explode. So Im feeling pretty good right now (and trying hard to forget that it’s not even one eighth of a marathon).

Park Run organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world and are open to everyone. All you have to do is register.

You can check out my route at Ally Pally. The hills were a bit of a killer – especially in terms of controlling my breathing –  but I’m due to do it again in a few weeks time so let’s see how I get on.