Don’t dream of winning
Don’t dream of winning. Train for it. @mo_farah #makeitcount
Mo’s been on my wall since the British 10K a while back, reminding me of the importance of setting goals and doing my best to reach them. I know Mo’s *actually* thinking about winning races, but for mere mortals winning means something else. To me it’s about setting goals to challenge my body, my stamina, my mental strength. It’s about aiming high and doing what I can to get there.
It’s so easy to sign up for a race imagining in your mind’s eye what crossing the finish line will feel like, ’forgetting’ to think through what you’ll have to do to even make it there in the first place. Add in some ideas on the time and the way you’d like to reach the finish, and you had better start thinking about training.
Most people know the basic rules - get a plan and follow it, don’t increase your training distance by more than 10% per week, focus a period on either speed work or building distance, allow yourself ample rest to recover from hard sessions, eat well, sleep well, hydrate well.
But training that neglects your mind is poor training in my view. Train your body and you might be training your mind at the same time, but countless are the runners I have met who set out a training plan 16 weeks before a big race and then proceed to nearly kill themselves pushing through to achieve every single session, the right distance, the right pace, the right…
Call me lazy/negative/uncommitted all you like, but unless you’re super(wo)man this is a seriously difficult thing to achieve between work/family/partner/.. commitments (and I sincerely applaud people who follow plans to the dot, I’m just not capable, or willing). I have seen blind plan-dedication break people’s belief in themselves (“I didn’t do that long run, there’s no way I can do my race!”), make people burst into tears when injuries prevent them training as the plan says, etc etc. What you need to cultivate is not a belief in the plan but a belief in yourself and that you know what’s right for you. If you miss that session - you missed it. Focus on the next one. If your body decides it ain’t playing ball on a run - that is one run, not the be-all and end-all of your ability to reach your goals. Believe that your desire to achieve will give you intelligence to know what’s right. I know this is not going to work for everyone. But it works for me, for now.
I map out a training plan and bear it in mind over the weeks. I consistently alter it, every single week. My life is unpredictable, my body is unpredictable and I am not going to beat myself up over missed runs. I want to reach my goals but what I want the most is to cross the finish line knowing that I am listening to my body, building my confidence, learning from runs and test-races and missed runs and shared runs.
I dream of going sub 3.45 in a marathon, sub 1.40 in a half, sub 42 in a 10k, sub 20 in a 5k. And I’m training - my way - to get there.