On Sunday I ran the Telford 10k – my first ever 10k run (or 6.2 miles) – and I did it without walking or stopping at all. That said, I do run very, very slowly! 11 weeks ago I was just recovering from a really bad virus, I hadn’t exercised for ages and I was pretty unfit. My first run was 8 minutes of pain, but I vowed to myself that I would keep at it, and the 10k run in December was my goal.
I’m quite good at keeping secrets 😉 Apart from the two friends who told me about the event, I didn’t tell a soul. Not even my husband knew until I started to suffer with shin splints and was in chronic pain – and he started to wonder why I was coming home from those long ‘walks’ so completely knackered! Now I’ve completed the race, and spilled the beans, I know some of my family think I was insane to keep it to myself. So why did I?
When I started out, I knew there were two kinds of reactions I’d get from anyone I told. People who cared about me, and knew how ill I’d been, might be worried and try to put me off. I didn’t want to hear that. Or, they might be really supportive and excited for me, and try to encourage me by asking how it was going etc. I didn’t want to hear that either! Right up until the morning of the run, I had no idea if I would even go through with it (I was so nervous!), and I also had no idea if something – bad back, another virus, my thyroid – would prevent me from doing it anyway. My desire to keep it secret was partly superstitious, I think.
Now it’s all over and done with and I’m absolutely chuffed to bits that I took up the challenge. In less than 3 months I’ve gone from fit-for-nothing to running over 6 miles. I feel fantastic. And I’m going to stick at it – I’m already planning my next event!
And because this is, after all, a writing blog, here are some of the things I’ve learned about motivation and stickability through training for this run:
- Slow and steady is absolutely fine. If you are a natural sprinter, that’s fine too, but if you prefer to take it slowly, writing a little each day will get you to the end just as fast as the person who writes in big bursts then takes days off to recover. (Well, okay, maybe not quite as fast in some cases, but you will get there too!)
- Keeping it to yourself can be really helpful. Ever had a story idea you shared too soon, only to find so many holes in the plot you couldn’t face writing the thing? Keeping something to yourself gives it time to grow and develop, without being exposed to other people’s opinions and ideas.
- Goals sometimes work better if they are just out of reach. Forget the achievable part of the SMART targets acronym – sometimes a goal should be just outside of what you think is achievable if it is going to really stretch you. Aiming for 3 books a year might seem impossible – and maybe it is – but if you aim for 3 you might end up with 2. If you aim for 2 you’ll probably manage 1 and a half at best 🙂
- Reward your writing efforts. I got a medal for the 10k run – and I’m going to think of suitable rewards for writing milestones too. Perhaps a new notebook for the next 10,000 words completed, something like that.
What’s great about applying lessons from one part of life to another is that you get this kind of synergy – everything supports and informs everything else. Or maybe it’s just that I can’t ever stop thinking like a writer, even when I’m running. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
PS: For those of you who are interested in that type of thing, I did the run in just over an hour and 13 minutes.