The Runner’s Edit

The last week of January is statistically the most likely time for people to break their New Years Resolutions.  Whether you’re planning to eat better, not drink, grow a beard, learn a new skill or start a new fitness regime, the last week in January is going to severely test your character.

Antony, our head of CRM, knows a thing or two about keeping his promises. He set himself the challenge of running 12 half marathons in 12 months. He’s already completed 6 races, the last one in Gansbaai, near Cape Town in South Africa.

Antony shares with us his Top Ten Tips for setting, sticking too and achieving a New Years Resolution:

1 – MAKE A PLAN, AND VISUALISE IT.
Once you have decided to make a change, the first thing you should do is make a plan.  Luckily a good friend of my girlfriend, Lauren, is an exceptional marathon runner. Lauren and I worked together to help figure out a training plan to suit me and help me achieve my goal.  The plan was brilliantly varied, with increased distances, tempos and frequency, which I immediately put into my Year of Living Happy 2015 wall planner to help ensure I could visualise the days, weeks and months ahead.

Year Of Living Happy 2015 Wall Planner by THE GREEN GABLES

2 – GET INTO THE DETAIL OF YOUR PLAN, DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING TO CHANCE.
Once you have a top level plan, break it down into smaller, bite-sized chunks and get into the detail of it.  For me that meant Coach Lauren and I sitting and picking out some interesting and different training runs around the area where I live near to Richmond, in order to ensure the training didn’t get boring and felt fresh every time, and I also put these runs into  my own personalised activity map.

Personalised Activity Map by MAPS INTERNATIONAL

3 – IT’S ABOUT THE JOURNEY NOT THE DESTINATION, SO DOCUMENT IT.
You should definitely document your journey as you go, so that you can look back and see how much you have developed and how far you have really have come.  A huge personal goal of my #ManProject was to blog every week about my #12in12months challenge so I treated myself to a special runners notebook (and chocolate!) to keep notes as I went, so that I wouldn’t forget anything.  Being able to look back on how I struggled through the first run, what I learnt after my first intervals session or how I felt after I just decided to take a week off (guilty) helps motivate me going forward.

Runner’s Chocolate And Notebook Gift Set by QUIRKY GIFT LIBRARY

4 – ALL THE GEAR, NO IDEA?
It doesn’t matter whether you have any idea what you’re doing or not, having the right gear for your challenge, is absolutely essential.  If you’re going to take up painting get yourself a decent easel, if you’re planning to learn hula-hooping get a shiny new hula-hoop and if you’re going to start running 12 half marathons in 12 months then definitely get a t-shirt that reflects your challenge.  Having the right gear immediately takes away any possible reason to stop, quit or not achieve your goals.

Runners T Shirt by STABO

5 – KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED
During your ‘New Year, new you’ phase there will definitely be times that your motivation levels drop and you feel like giving up on the whole thing.  For me this happened after I ran my first marathon and then had a week off for ‘recovery week’.  Starting training again felt like starting over completely from new.  Just putting my trainers on to get out of the door felt like climbing a mountain and motivation was almost nonexistent.  Surrounding yourself with positive motivational quotes, on the back of fridge doors or on your front door, helps you remember why you are doing what you are doing.

‘The Time Is Now’ Quote Print by COCO AND DEE

6 – COMMUNICATE WITH THOSE AROUND YOU
Having the support of those around you is essential if you are to have any chance of achieving your goals.  I am very lucky that my girlfriend Kristy has been there to support me for most of my half marathons.  (I do have to say however that it was easier to get her to come to the one near Cape Town in South Africa than it was to the Dirt Run in Leighton Buzzard.)  Keeping them aware of how you are doing, when you are flying and most importantly when you are struggling is the absolute key to success.  Sometimes just letting them know where you are can make all the difference.

Personalised Running Sign by GIDDY KIPPER

7 – DON’T OVERDO IT
Keep perspective as you work towards your target.  You can’t be perfect 100% of the time and shouldn’t beat yourself up if you have a little wobble.  What I’ve learnt over the last 6 months is that having time off from your goal, and simply enjoying yourself is as important for you as sticking to your plan.  I’ve had weeks of training where I have done absolutely no exercise and just lazed around the house, but these have then inspired some of the best training weeks of the #ManProject  There’s nothing wrong with kicking back, relaxing and having a glass (or two) of wine!

Personalised ‘It’s Wine O’clock’ Wine Glass by HOPE AND WILLOW

8 – CELEBRATE OTHERS ACHIEVEMENTS
As you inevitably gather support on your journey towards ‘perfection’ you will undoubtedly find similar, like-minded people also working towards a similar goal.  Just as you need a pick me up or some encouragement every now and then, so will they.  If your training buddy smashes it on a run, or your dieting partner hits their goal, or your fellow dry-athlete makes it through January without drinking then celebrate it and make a big deal of it.  For my 4th half marathon in Exeter a number of my oldest, childhood friends came up and ran it with me.  For some of them it was their first half marathon ever, and celebrating with them gave me more pleasure than running the thing myself.  And lets be honest, you’d like something off them when you hit your goal.

Personalised London Marathon Card by HANNAH LLOYD

9 – ENJOY IT
Whatever journey you have decided to go on and whatever it is you have decided to learn, conquer, attempt, etc then try and enjoy it.  There will be moments of low confidence, self doubt and possible soul searching, but just enjoy the experience.  After each race, and each step towards completion of the challenge, I go through all types of emotions but I’ve learnt to just enjoy them.   If I’m low then I just congratulate myself on what I’ve done so far and eat some chocolate.

Congratulations Running Gift Chocolate by QUIRKY GIFT LIBRARY

10 – CELEBRATE YOUR OWN ACHIEVEMENTS
If you are lucky enough to make it to your goal then you should never underestimate what you have achieved, no matter how large or small.  Consciously deciding to make a change, and then making that change a reality really is a victory for the human spirit, and for you!  Whether you’ve learned how to juggle, lost 1 stone in weight or simply stopped eating so much cheese you should celebrate.  Buy yourself something special that you can hang somewhere, or see everyday, to remind you what a great job you have done.  I am only 7 runs down so far, so the celebrations have been fairly restrained.  Once I have completed half marathon number 12 though you watch me go!

Personalised Marathon Print by HANNAH LLOYD

You can follow Antony’s blog at https://antonysmanproject.wordpress.com or on twitter @12in12months. He is raising money for 12 different charities and has already trimmed 17 minutes of his race time.

Antony after one of his half marathons

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