It’s been nearly a year since I completed my 1st ever 10k jogging distance and 19 months since I took up jogging to get myself fit.
Later on this month I plan to start training for a half-marathon. If you’d have told me this time 2 years ago that I’d become a regular jogger I would have laughed in your face. I couldn’t jog anywhere for any distance without getting stitches, puffing out of breath and looking like a beetroot. Okay I do look like a beetroot sometimes even now, but jogging is no longer an undiscovered, unattainable fitness regime, it’s now just part of my life.
As well as achieving what I thought were such unreachable goals, jogging (and at times I’ve also been known to run), has taught me quite a lot, about myself and in actual fact about life too.
In fact you can apply the act of jogging and taking up jogging to a lot of other areas in life:
Rules of engagement
Jogging is all about dealing with your mental attitude – if jogging was only about getting fitter I’d have completed the 10k distance in the first 6 weeks I started the plan. It was my mind that constantly dealt me brick wall after brick wall, and by managing to knock each and every one down I finally achieved my goal of the 10k. Every time my brain said to me “nah, it’s too cold to go outside”, or “why do you want to run those distance’s – you’ll just hurt yourself”, I shut it off and ignored it’s negativity. It wasn’t easy though. In fact a lot of stuff just is not easy to do but changing my attitude from I can’t to I will made a significant impact to breaking through those stupid walls.
Have a solid reason for wanting to achieve the goal. Saying I wanted to get fit is great but it’s difficult to measure. It’s hard to gauge what fit is and how fit I got the more I jogged. Being more specific makes it much easier to gauge and monitor. First I wanted to be able to jog the 5k, then the 10k. Going from nothing to these kinds of distances is a concrete goal that can be measured.
Motivation is fleeting but commitment is what counts. After jogging in hail, snow, rain and wind the motivation to get outside slightly fades. Instead I found solutions to the problems and carried on regardless. This still wasn’t always easy and didn’t get may any more motivation but however unmotivated I felt, I just put my trainers on and committed myself to do ten minutes of jogging. That way at least I’ll have done something. Turned out every time I did struggle to put my trainers on those days invariably became the best training sessions, and they always lasted longer than 10 minutes.
Have a plan. Take time to either make a plan based on your personal needs or find one. Then you’ve got to stick to it. Follow the plan religiously and it pays back big time. 8 weeks seemed an awful long time when I sat down and constructed a 10k running plan but it worked. I’d followed similar plans to get me to the 5k and I’d also created plans to increase my jogging distance. That one didn’t work as well so I ditched it and found another one. Plan is just that, it’s planning. Without it you can’t keep focused on that all important goal. It also gives you something to tick off which may sound a small thing to do but the act of ticking something off each time it’s incredibly empowering.
Constantly raise the bar once the level has been comfortably met. I was so pleased with myself when I finally reached a total of 30 minutes jogging time. Then I found I was just stuck on 30 minutes. I’d got to my happy plateau level and got stuck. So I had to do push myself further on wards, 30 minutes to 35 and then to 40…always moving forward. Every time my body adapted to the increase I then pushed it forward a bit more, according to the plan. There is always a new challenge that can be achieved. When I’d completed my set distances I changed my goals to get faster over smaller distances to increase my cardio and recovery times. Now I’ve done that I’ll start working on distance again.
Sometimes you don’t need a plan. Yes I know, I’m completely contradicting myself but lets be honest there are times you just want to lace up your trainers and head out the door, and that’s good too. No distance, no time measure, no pressure, no goals. Just pound those feet, spend some quality time with yourself and feel the stresses of the day just disappear. And as I’ve learnt on my jogging journey it’s not always about the challenge of competing, or the milestones you can set that motivate you. Just the ability to get outside and jog is good enough motivation and I’m all for that too :-)
When I said the above can be used in other areas of life it’s true. Think about the last time you wanted to take up a new hobby, go for a new career, or just learn something new. At first it’s always daunting (amid excitement), but the same rules always apply – commitment, a plan, a measure and the ability to not give up when things start to look a little ropey.