Oiselle put this quote on a coffee mug and I have become obsessed with it. For the record, both the quote and the mug. It is so easy to read that quote, dismiss it as a cute mantra, and move on with your day. But this is gold! It not only applies to training but to business and personal development as well.
Let’s discuss, shall we?
We like instant gratification and easy. We can have fast food delivered to our doors through Uber Eats and we can basically have anything delivered to our house through Amazon Prime. There are self-help books galore that promise quick and easy fixes to all kinds of problems.
Most recently, I’ve been reading a book on habits that debunks the myth that you can make a new habit in 21 days. Spoiler alert: the average time to make a new habit is about 3 times longer! This study from the University London College found that on average it takes 66 days for new habits to become automatic (complexity of the habit and current routines were also a big factor in the length of time to automaticity).
Success in running is no different. When we first start to run, we see really big gains for a small investment of time and energy. It is really exciting to get faster and run longer with changes that you can notice in a matter of days. Eventually this will plateau as your body becomes fit and well trained. Then we will have to work harder to see smaller gains. This isn’t easy and can sometimes be frustrating.
Sometimes success in running doesn’t even feel like a linear progression. There can be days when we just feel off and easy paces are challenging. We can train for weeks and then totally bomb a race because there are so many factors that go in to having the “perfect race.”
Have you ever heard that quote from Winston Churchill before? We need to be able to harness that level of discipline in running because this is where the magic happens. As we know, it takes weeks (months really) to build up to peak. How do we maintain excitement and focus on a goal that seems far away? How do we shift our perspective to make the most of the daily grind?
New Runners and the Daily Grind
For the new runner, training will be hard because it is a new routine. Creating that habit of running will take a lot of work and energy. If you have the support of a friend or a running group it will make it much easier to be consistent with your workouts. In this phase of training, the discipline is all about creating the habit and consistency in running. You’ll be finding ways to make it work in to your daily routine. As you learn more about running you can also expand to other topics like nutrition, hydration, and cross training. But in the beginning, it is best to take this in small steps so you can adjust your routine to a new normal.
Experienced Runners and the Daily Grind
For the experienced runner, we can also focus on the daily disciplines of training. Shifting our focus from the outcomes to the grind is helpful because there are some things that are just plain out of our control when it comes to running and especially racing. As a trained and raced athlete, we usually have a plan already selected or a coach to work with.
There is so much to think about as an experienced runner when we change our focus to the daily grind. Did we eat the best to fuel our bodies properly? Are we well hydrated? Did we show up for the workout with intention? Are we being smart about our pacing during the workouts? Do we push hard enough on the hard days? Are we being mindful to our cross training and strength training? Do we rest and recover well to keep balance in our training?
That’s actually a lot to think about, isn’t it? But, when we shift our focus here to make sure that we are doing the daily disciplines of training the results will take care of themselves. It may not always come in our time table and it make take some plan revisions to get different results but you should see progress along the way. It’s going to take a lot of hard work…but that’s what makes it all worth it in the end, right?
Tips for keeping your focus on the daily grind:
1. Have a plan to follow
2. Track your daily progress for workouts, nutrition, hydration and sleep
3. Find an accountability partner or coach
4. On a bi-weekly or monthly basis review your training logs to make sure you are taking care of each puzzle piece. If you notice any gaps, you can adjust your plan to get you moving closer towards your goals.
5. Reward yourself for hitting consistency goals along the way. You don’t have to wait until you get that elusive PR.
Wash, rinse, repeat