20:50 I have been away for a while but fear not for I am back! I have been feeling rubbish for a good few weeks now with a throat infection, flu symptoms, an atrocious cough and feeling generally run down so….. although I have taken part in a few races including the Cardiff Half Marathon, Great Birmingham run, NICE 10k and Raceways Stratford 10k I probably shouldn’t have done all these races as they probably didn’t add anything positive to my general level of health which is one of the reasons why I have been off blogging about fitness for quite a while now, but I am back on it!! HURRRAAAAAAAY!!!!!
One of the things that prompted this blog was a podcast I listen to on a weekly basis called Marathon Talk which is always excellent listening! In one particular episode a few weeks ago at 36/37 minutes in ( http://www.marathontalk.com/podcast/episode_355_barry_smyth.php) they have a wee bit of a training talk on the subject of Self Reflection as to why we run (although this could apply to any form of sport or exercise or any hobby in general). They touched on a point about setting goals and targets. Do you want to let this over take your life? Why are you doing it and what do you want to achieve? Do you want to lose weight, do you want to inspire someone, are you competitive, do you just want to clear your head, are you aiming for a pb? Also why do you want to do these things? Are you trying to achieve something that you can control in running or exercise that you may not be able to achieve elsewhere in life such as work, relationships, money, etc?
Yes, it is great to feel healthier, slimmer, more muscular, more toned and better in yourself and exercise is fantastic for that but if all that time spent in the gym attempting to squat more, curl more or knock minutes or seconds off your personal best is taking away from other parts of your life is it really worth it?
This struck a chord for me as for the past four years I have run a marathon each year and for 16-18 weeks before each marathon my life has been given over to training, recovering and looking after myself to get the best out of myself on race day… That’s a third of my year gone just in training for one day and for what??? Well the first one I did in 2013 was to see if I could achieve a marathon in a decent time and I did, the next one of course was to try and beat 3 hours which I narrowly failed to do so but thought I had it in me so the third attempt had the same target and I absolutely nailed it and was chuffed to bits and the fourth one was the London Marathon so I was aiming for a great time again (it wasn’t too bad) and of course I had the experience of taking part in the London Marathon which was genuinely and truly amazing! After all of these marathons I was well and truly cream crackered for a good two/three/four weeks after which then meant my exercise for anything was not at an optimal level which has me saying every time that no, I won’t be doing that again but again I go and sign up for another marathon which means I will be going through the whole cycle again! This marathon next year may be my last for a while, I only really want to do it again as I messed this particular race (Loch Ness Marathon) up last time round, it is a beautiful course and it is another opportunity to visit the fantastically awesome far north of Scotland as I can’t really think of another reason that I would want to go through that twenty plus week cycle all over again.
In this time frame of training and recovery I didn’t see friends anywhere near as much, my constant running/training may have adversely affected my social life even if health wise it has affected me in a positive manner, I hadn’t gone out drinking anywhere near as much (possibly a good thing) and I put other things like looking for different jobs or taking on other challenges on the back burner purely because of marathon training. Now I don’t know if this was the right or wrong thing to do, I am not a bad runner at all, for my level I am actually half decent but I am certainly never going to set the world alight with my running but I do wonder if I could have spent that time more wisely, done more with the rest of my life and become a more well rounded person.
Running is also something that is measurable, it is quite easy to set realistic goals and work towards them and hey it is something I really enjoy but there is potential that I am putting other things on the backburner as they are not so easily measurable or achievable.
Now I am definitely not the person to tell you what is right or wrong as for all the time I put into those efforts I am proud of my achievements and nobody can take that away from me but I would like people to put some thought in to why they want to aim for certain things and why they want to get faster/bigger/slimmer etc and just to reflect on whether we are using these targets to deflect or hide away from other issues in ones life. Also do you really need to be going out training at the crack of dawn or would you benefit from more sleep or an improved diet or spending time away from the TV or Facebook and Twitter??
So run, lift, cycle, climb, surf, trek, swim and squat but do it mainly because you enjoy it not because of some target you think you should achieve or aim for because it is popular or trendy or will make you a better person. Like I say there is nothing wrong with aiming high but don’t let it get in the way of the rest of your life!
Thanks to Martin & Tom at marathon talk for the inspiration for this blog and making me think about my own training (I still enjoy it but am mixing it up a bit more at the moment).
Happy training everyone!!