Monday, 21 March 2011

Don’t let a setback spoil your goal

When things don’t go well the easiest thing to do is give up, but that’s not necessarily the right thing to do, though in some cases it may be. I myself gave up on football and hockey as I was rubbish at them, but I didn’t give up on sport and ended up finding something that I was good at, that’s running for those that don’t know. Not only have I been a good runner but I have many happy memories, not just of winning but of taking part in many fantastic events. Plus I’ve made many friends who are runners.

Today I wanted to write about perseverance and how you can get to your goal, even if it takes longer than you planned for. When I began running I didn’t really have any goals, other than to try it out and find out how good I could be. I’d been inspired by watching my old school mate, Andrew Geddes, win the AAAs 1500m indoor title, and I wanted to see what I could achieve. Pretty soon after starting running, I found myself training with a couple of 800m runners and naturally, and because I was a big Steve Ovett fan, their goal became my goal. The goal was to break 2 min for 800m. I don’t know if you’ll appreciate how difficult that is, in fact to some other runners it might have been really easy, but I certainly didn’t really appreciate it until my first 800m race, which I completed in 2:15.2. I’d run, what I had assumed was a perfect first 400m in 59 seconds, only to have my legs turn to jelly with 220m to go. I went away, carried on with the training, raced some 100m, 200m and 400m races and returned to the 800m 2 months later, where I improved to 2:14.8. Reading all this, one can be forgiven for thinking the 800m was not my bag and I should give up running and join a bowls team, but I was very much in my running infancy and I actually enjoyed the competition, even if I was nowhere near my goal. By the end of that season I did actually achieve a 2:07.0. Still a long way away from 1:59 but proof that perseverance was paying off.

Three and a half years later I finally ran a sub 2 min 800m, 1:59.6 to be exact. It had taken a long time but I’d done it. Along the way I’d realised that I was never going to be a good 800m runner but that I was relatively better the longer the distance was. I’d found an enjoyment in running cross country and road relays and had won medals as part of a team. Now I’d achieved my goal it was time to concentrate on longer distances, which I did to good effect.

Another good example of perseverance, from the Alsop archives, is how I continued to train hard through my M40-44 age grouping. I had some measure of success, winning a few Scottish Masters championships and being a member of successful teams at Herne Hill Harriers and Edinburgh AC but I only managed one sub 27 min 5 mile race in that time, and couldn’t get under 33 min for 10k. In 2010, at the age of 45, I had a good year, achieving 26:33 for 5 miles and 32:19 for 10k (where I went through 5 miles in 26:05). Admittedly I had come off shift towards the end of the previous year, and had added core activities to my training but the point is that it would have been too easy to accept I’d had my best days and there was no further point to keep pushing myself in training. But I always felt I was better than my results had shown so I persevered with the training.

I’m now in another persevering phase, having missed two months of training in the winter, I’m lacking background so every race is hard to take as I finish way down on my form of 2010. But I know that if I plug away I will get better and I will achieve something special again, in the meantime I can help Herne Hill to more success. I still feel I have a sub 15:30 5k in me, maybe not this year but one day.

It’s times like this that you have to look for the positive. This Saturday I decided to run another Park Run 5k. This time I, my partner, Carole, and my client, Ray, decided to try the one at Pennington Flash. The course was more akin to a trail race with undulating gravel paths and a section of grass, churned up by horse hooves. It was certainly a tougher course than the one at Heaton Park. On this occasion I finished 2nd in 17:33, 8 seconds slower than the one I ran two weeks previously, at Heaton Park, but judging by the course I’d say it was a better run. Ray, who’d run two pbs in his previous two runs at Heaton Park, was 15 sec slower than his pb, a further indicator that this was a tougher course. On the positive side, I now hold the course record for M45-49 as well as the age graded record for the course.

I’ve nothing more planned race wise, so I’m just going to continue with the hard work. Ray is running the Wilmslow half marathon on Sunday so I’ll be seeing him later for his final tune up. I’ve just spoken to Lee about his run in yesterday’s Kilomathon, he ran 2 hr 5 min 27 sec for the 26.2k, if he can keep that pace going he’s on for 3 hr 20 min in the marathon – an amazing feat carrying a 40lb pack. With four weeks to go Lee now has his final phase schedule of training, it’s interesting stuff, so interesting I wish I was doing the schedule myself. Incidentally Lee is being featured on Granada Reports on 31 March.

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