2021 has been an unexpected year for many reasons, both good and bad. It has seen the continual rise of covid but also seen the return of many sporting events. The year has flown by, but at the end of the year I like to set my goals for the year ahead. I set multiple types of goals and here is what goals I set and why.
This is always my main goal above everything else achievement wise: to stay healthy. This is because without being healthy and injury-free, none of my achievements would be achievable. This continually reminds me that no matter what goals I want to chase after, I will not compromise my health. This is because I believe in order to be the best, strongest athlete I can be, I need to be the healthiest athlete possible.
Time/achievement based goals.
Just as remaining healthy is important, so is setting time/achievement based goals. This is due tot their measurability. They allow you to measure your progress over the year, so you can see the steps you are taking. This helps give you direction and also keeps you motivated throughout the year, especially at moments when things get tough. If you have days when sessions don’t quite go to plan or you feel your motivation dwindle, goals can remind you what it is you are working towards. They remind you, even on the toughest days, not to give up. Sometimes, it is the hardest days that actually make you a stronger and in turn faster athlete, so keep those goals in mind at all times.
On the flip side, once the year is up, such goals give you a boost, whether it be of accomplishment or motivation. If you have achieved what you set out to, you feel a positive surge of belief that reminds you to continue what you are doing and believe in your own ability. Alternatively, if you have not achieved such goals, it boosts you into the new year to chase after these goals even more.
So, now we have arrived at the end of the year, to help give you direction, whether it be in or out of sport, it may be useful to your motivation and progression to set yourself some goals.
As athletes, or people in most walks of life, we are constantly striving and moving forward. We are always thinking about the next goal or event to give us direction and prevent us from looking backwards. However, it is important to occasionally take the time to reflect on all you have achieved, especially over the past year, and what better time to do this then at the end of the year.
For many, 2021 has been yet another year filled with lots of uncertainty, but there has been lots of achievement for so many people, on lots of different levels. Whatever your job or hobby, I am sure if you reflect, you will be amazed by the progress you have made and the steps you have taken.
Why is it important to reflect?
Reflection is a key part of self-development. In order to take steps forward, we need to see where we have come from. Not only is this important to allow us to learn from our mistakes, but it also allows us to see the result of hard work. When you are ticking off the weeks of training and racing, you can quite easily feel as though you are working hard but not progressing massively, but when you look at the year as a whole, you will be amazed by how far you have come. This is very motivating. It gives you the drive to push on and ride the ups and downs of life.
I for one can relate to the act of only remembering the races and sessions that didn’t go to plan. This causes you to feel like little things aren’t going to plan, however, you forget the 10 sessions out of 11 that did go to plan. It is the consistency that truly pays off, so that one session will have minimal, if no effect.
So, whether you sit down and consciously reflect, or take 5 mins to think back before you fall asleep, do look back on the year you have had. Be it in sport or in other walks of life, you will be surprised by the steps you have taken.
This weeks blog is a very short one because I had my booster vaccine and spent the whole day in bed feeling sorry for myself so I didn’t have much energy to write it.
I’m sure a lot of us have been guilty of continuing to train when we might not feel our best. It’s very easy to get into the mindset that we need to train hard at whatever cost and not let anything get in the way. However, this isn’t always the best thing to do. Sometimes, pushing on when you need to rest can be very damaging and set you back for longer than necessary. This is where it is important to listen to your body.
Whilst our brain might be telling us to keep pushing on and get out there, our body does not feel the same. My brain was desperate to get outside and run towards the end of the week, but my body would’ve majorly struggled and done more damage than good.
It’s hard to make the call, but if we’re in it for the long run and not just for the time being, this is the best thing to do. Allow your body to focus on one thing, getting better and building itself up. If we add in the damage of training, we will take twice as long to get better and only drag it out longer.
So, the moral of this short and sweet blog, is to listen to your body and not always your brain, because sometimes your brain doesn’t have your bodies best interests at heart.
Seeing as Christmas is rapidly approaching, what topic is better to write about than Christmas presents for runners. Every year it gets harder and harder to find the right presents for people because it seems they have everything they need. It is also even more of a challenge when you are trying to cut down on buying unnecessary things for the sake of it. For this reason, I have compiled together a list of the five best presents for runners that won’t go wasted and will definitely be appreciated.
1- Headband: No runner is set for a winter of training unless they have a headband. It is the perfect balance of an accessory. It prevents your ears from getting cold fro the bitter winter wind, but having an open top also prevents you from overheating. In all honesty, I think they are revolutionary. No winter run is complete without a headband
2-Decent pair of gloves: Nobody wants cold hands! I am a big glove wearer, both on easy runs and during sessions. I always find if my hands are warm, I feel so much warmer and smoother when I run. Sometimes a pair of mittens can be a solid investment as keeping your fingers together to heat each other can make your hands warmer than in gloves.
3-Coffee: For the majority of runners, coffee is an essential. I may be the only runner who doesn’t like or drink coffee, haha! BUT, every runner I know thinks good coffee is a godsend. Therefore, why not give the gift of caffeine. It will be incredibly welcomed and also not go to waste. Be sure to go for sustainably produced or organic brands to make that gift extra special to those involved in all aspects of the process.
4-Training Diary: If you don’t have one, you probably should invest in one. Training diaries are an important element of training. They allow you to track what you are doing and also report how you feel, allowing you to noticed trends that may occur and also understand why things such as tiredness and injury occur. It is also bizarrely therapeutic as it forces you to sit down and reflect on the week, allowing you to recognise the little wins of each week and the areas that need working on.
5-Cafe voucher: now this may sound bizarre, and to be honest it might not even exist, but if it doesn’t, it definitely should! A cafe voucher would be an excellent gift choice for a runner. Post-session or long run, what runner doesn’t enjoy a trip out for brunch?! It’s the second best thing after running, although some runners may argue that the cafe trip is motivation for the session. If this isn’t a legitimate present, why not make your own voucher and then take your friend out for brunch?
Things don’t always go as we hope, or as we feel we we are capable of. This can be difficult to take at the time but it is important to allow ourselves to get frustrated. It is also important to then be able to accept it and move on. Most things happen for a reason, and in the journey of sport, or another other hobby/work for that matter, the route of progression will not always be linear, but that’s ok!
Everyone has their own journey, and every high and low has a purpose that will serve us in the long run. Whilst we may not appreciate or recognise it at the time, the lows teach is invaluable lessons, and sometimes they are actually for the best. Without the lows, mistakes, or difficulties, we would not be able to progress and become stronger athletes. It is great when things go amazingly and to plan, but that doesn’t teach us to fight. The tougher times remind us that nothing worth having comes easily, and it reminds us to never take the journey for granted. We always come away from the tough times with a new lesson, whether that be about our approach, our training, our mindset, our everyday life, or just what it means to be human. There is also a positive to take away and remind us that all aspects of the journey need to be respected.
The highs are great, and it’s what we all work hard for, but without the lows we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the meaning of the highs. Tough times set us up to value the highs so much more. When things do eventually go as we hope, and the stars all align, the feeling will be so much sweeter and hold so much more worth, because we know what it’s like not to get there. Those who have experienced the tougher times and have had hiccups on their journey, learn to appreciate every step of the ride whether it be positive or testing.
Gives us fight.
If you’ve had to battle through the lows, you have had to pick yourself up when you’re down and carry on. You have had to keeping pushing forward when the odds were stacked against you and not give up. Now, this creates an invaluable trait, or creates fight. The difficulties light the fire in our stomachs that makes us more and more determined. It gives us that edge and deeper drive that perhaps those who have not experienced many lows don’t have. Therefore, the lows should be cherished and grabbed hold of, because the fight they give us cannot be earned any other way. True strength develops when you have to continually get back up when times push you down.
So, next time you face an obstacle in the road that pushes you off the straight road ahead, recognise the invaluable lessons you are learning and know that that experience will only make you stronger in the long run.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!