So the end of February is nigh. How are your 2014 goals shaping up?
I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do set goals and I’m quite excited because I just achieved a big one! In the same week that Jenny Jones became the first ever Briton to win an Olympic medal on the snow, I reached my own sporting goal, by running my first half marathon this decade.
Now I’m no Olympian, and it’s pretty difficult to stick to a training plan during a British winter, especially if, like me, you’re allergic to gyms. And yet somehow I managed to go out running in the dark, sometimes in the pouring rain, sometimes in skating rink conditions, almost every single Monday, Wednesday and Saturday morning ALL WINTER. Now I love my nice warm duvet as much as the next person, so how on earth did I pull it off?
1. A Long Term Plan with Mini Goals Along the Way
My ACTUAL goal is to run a sub-2hr half marathon, but I was so unfit when I started training nine months ago that I had to be a bit more realistic and set some interim goals. After all, I’d barely run more than three miles in one go since having my first child in 2008.
So I aimed to run the Brighton Half Marathon in 2hours 35 minutes, the same time as my first ever half marathon – the Great North Run – back in 2001. I actually smashed my goal and ran it in 2.28 – hurrah!
It might take me another two years to hit my sub-2hr target, but I have goals along the way to keep me going. Next on my list is a sub-65 minute 10k, and I’ll be taking on the Birmingham Half Marathon this October, and hoping to shave at least ten minutes off my time.
2. Self Belief Combined With a Realistic Goal
I’m pretty sure I can do this. At an earlier fitness peak, back in 2005, I ran the 13.1 miles of the pleasingly named Turkey Trot in two hours and four minutes. So instead of thinking I have to shave thirty minutes off my current time, I’m thinking I only have to go five minutes faster than I did then (let’s gloss over the fact that I was 28 and a few pounds lighter!).
3. A Very Real Time Limit
I’m 36 now, so if I don’t do this soon then I might just run out of time. There are loads of different theories on when women runners peak, and some older ultra-distance runners blow all of those theories out of the water, but I think it’s safe to say that if I haven’t achieved this goal by my early forties then it probably won’t happen.
4. Make It Fun
I’m going to share a little secret with you now. On every one of my long runs this winter I listened to Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs. It may not be coolest radio show in the world but I’m addicted because the people being interviewed are utterly fascinating. So if I didn’t feel like running ten miles in the darkest depths of winter, I would still put my trainers on because I was looking forward to hearing Ant & Dec or Nicola Benedetti or Miranda Hart talking about their lives.
The goal itself had an element of fun too, because the Brighton half gave me a chance to meet up with a childhood friend who lives in Hove. I’ve already persuaded three friends to enter the Birmingham half and I’m working on a few others! Making it sociable is motivational.
5. Tell Everyone
As much as I was tempted not to broadcast my little February race to the world, I knew it would motivate me if people were asking me about it. So I mentioned it on Facebook. A lot (sorry if it got boring). I stood up at networking groups and told people what I was doing, I told clients and suppliers, and I told friends and family. So then I had to do it.
6. A Positive Spin
Did I stick to my training plan? In short, no! I lost plenty of training days to coughs, colds and Christmas. But I refused to beat myself up about it. Sure, I had my off days, but mostly I just gave myself a pat on the back for the runs I DID get out on.
So now I’m going to apply all these lessons to my business goals, with number four at the top of my list. Why not inject some fun into your goals? Better yet, tell me how you’re going to do it in the comments below…