By Matthew Cox, Team Brooks Athlete
It can be hard staying motivated without a goal, so with some states rules starting to relax, now is a great time to pick a goal race and start getting back into training. If you are not sure where to start, or those chilly winter mornings make your bed too snuggly to leave, I have got a few tips to get you started.
SET A GOAL
I like to pick a long-term goal and a few intermediate goals to keep me motivated.
Typically, my long-term goal is a long-distance race such as a marathon or half marathon, and my intermediate goals are shorter runs such as 5km or 10km.
For instance, a long-term goal for you might be the 13km race at Beach2Beach and intermediate goal could be a 5km Parkrun once a month between now and November.
It’s been hard to stay motivated having to social distance. If you’ve had some time off running or haven’t been running as much as you normally would, don’t expect to get back to your pre iso fitness in a few weeks. It may take 6 weeks to see any improvement at all.
Be careful not to try and improve too quickly. This could lead to injuries and will set you back in the long term.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
Not achieving a goal can be demoralising. However, setting a goal that’s too easy can result in you not pushing yourself to your limit.
So how do you set a realistic goal? As a starting point, there are several online calculators you can use to estimate your race time based on previous races or other runs. If you race often, you’ll develop a pretty good idea of what you can achieve.
A note of caution: A lot of watches have a race predictor function. In my experience, those predictions are not very accurate.
TRAIN WITH PEOPLE
Running doesn’t have to be a solo sport. You’ll get the most out of your training if you can do at least a few sessions a week with other people. It’s also more fun.
I do 2 sessions a week with a squad called RunCrew. I’ve really noticed the improvement in my training and overall enjoyment of running now that social distancing requirements have been relaxed and I can go back to training with them.
Make sure to play it safe and keep a 1.5-metre distance between you and your mate and keeping to your state’s limit on who/how many people you can run with!
GET A COACH
Each athlete has different strengths and weaknesses. Generic online training programs and running books are unlikely to be appropriate for all athletes. A good coach will provide tailored programs and advice for each of their athletes, maximise the athlete’s potential.
If you can’t find a coach, make sure you don’t just blindly follow a generic program, but you understand the intent of each workout and you adjust the prescribed workouts to suit you.
REGULARLY ACCESS IMPROVEMENT
To stay motivated it is important to feel like you are progressing. I would recommend repeating the same training session once every 4-6 weeks to measure progress (or do a parkrun or similar event). Setting intermediate race goals can also fulfil the same function.
In the winter months it’s really important to dress appropriately. There is nothing worse than being too cold or too hot, which can be a hard balance to reach as you warm-up whilst running.
I have two strategies for combating this problem. One, run a course where you return to your staring point after 10-15 minutes, so you can shed some clothing once you’ve warmed up.
If this isn’t possible, wear light removable layers. I’d usually wear gloves, a beanie and arm warmers. The gloves and beanie are easy to remove and stash in pockets (the Brooks Sherpa 5” Short are my favourite, plenty of pockets for small items). The arm warmers can be rolled down and worn on the wrists like sweat bands as you warm up.
It’s very tempting to try and get that last mile out of a shoe. 90% of my injuries have been from running on shoes that I should have replaced earlier. Relative to other sports running is quite cheap. Replace your shoes when they are worn out, it’s not worth an injury.