Consistency is the key
England road running international Liam Dee talks about routine and realistic goal setting.
Until the world seemed to come to a screeching halt in March 2020, our habits whether good or bad, were alive and kicking as we went to work or school, trained, slouched on the sofa in the evenings, and more.
But with everything turned on its head, many of us find ourselves out of routine, with a lot of us now [Lockdown 1] stuck at home and only allowed out for essentials and exercise. With this, we’re finding a lot more free time to train and lots of people may be tempted to go out and run harder than ever, do an hour of sit ups and run reps up the stairs, or run every day when you usually only are able to run 3 days per week.
But is this really the smart choice? I don’t believe so. Training - whether for general fitness, to compete, or just for fun - is about being consistent with your effort. Whether that's in sport, academic studies, hygiene, whatever - the power of consistent habit has a profound impact on all facets of life.
- Let’s take the example of Runner A. Working from home, he’s decided to go hard in training. He’s increased his mileage from 40 miles per week to 70. At first, our friend loves it as a sense of accomplishment hitting bigger mileage than ever before washes over him. But it isn’t manageable. After a period of three hard weeks, he picks up an injury and can’t run, also causing stress and worry. After 3 weeks training, and 2 weeks off with injury, Runner A is back to an average of just 42 miles.
- By contrast, keeping a consistent effort over a period of time will pay dividends, like our friend Runner B. Instead of pushing, she decides to maintain her weekly mileage of 40. With the extra time, she builds in a 10-minute core routine a couple of times a week which is more than manageable. After the same 5 weeks, she has an average of 40 miles perweek, and is still enjoying her running and the opportunity to fit in some strength.
In the past, I have been guilty of using an unmanageable approach. Trying to knock every session for six rather than complete them as planned and in a controlled manner. Not only did my body give out, but it meant my mind suffered similarly as I didn’t meet or exceed some overzealous goals.
This period should be a reassessment, particularly of your values towards the sport - which ultimately will lead to a more wholesome relationship with the sport, physically and mentally. Finding the joy in just running is often lost when we are in the fray of the competition season as we’re looking to the next event. But now, with no racing at least until June or July , we have a chance to step back and try and simply enjoy the processes of training. At the end of the day, enjoying what you do as a whole will get you out of the door day-in-day-out and yield results when it does come time to lace up and toe the line again.
Liam’s top tips
- Be confident with what you’re doing; don’t ramp it all up.
- Just get out and run, throw your stopwatch away.
- Use all this extra time to learn a new skill, not train harder!
- Look to the future and think about what races you could run in August.
- Have fun!