What being a Junkie has taught me

Last year August I signed up with a running coach. I secretly hoped that he would in some miraculous way make me a faster runner.

I remember that first afternoon track session well. A couple of runners gathered on the grass field, then we started with a 2.3km warm up (which almost killed me) followed by more warming up, and finally running around and around a grass track, ending off with another cool down on the same 2.3km warm up route (ok, this time I did die). After my first session, I remember asking the coach, “So this will make me fast, right?” I was so naive!

Track session

A year later, here’s what I’ve learnt about track training and coaching:

  • The pace I run does not define me as a runner. *repeat*
  • Even those running at 4 mins/km want to run faster. It’s a runner’s thing.
  • There’s a difference between a quality run and an easy run. You need to do both.
  • Nobody forces you to do anything. Progress is entirely in your hands.
  • Injuries happen.
  • When it comes to track, everyone is equal and gets treated the same way. Everyone does the same track session. Slow runner? Pffft, *suck it up Junkie*
  • I’ve made the most incredible friends with some of the most extraordinary people from all walks of life. At track, we find that common bond.
  • Track has taught me to put things into perspective. The lessons around consistency and discipline can be applied to all things in my life.

I guess the biggest thing I’ve gained is not just one coach, I’ve scored over 20 different coaches! Yes, so Dave is the main kahuna, but each person that I train with at track has made a difference to my running and taught me something in their own way.

It’s the odd word during the warm up about the best PB races; it’s the encouragement as each one of them laps me. It’s the tips offered about my running form & reminders not to slouch; it’s the books loaned to me; the caring Whatsapp messages, those that run that last lap with me and help me push my limits. It’s the LSD’s on Sunday, the jokes we share, the ones that look out for me at races and those who sacrifice their track session to pace me.

It’s been the most incredible year. I can truly say that track training with the Running Junkies has changed the way I think about running, changed the way I judge my pace and has made me understand what matters most about why I run. There’s so much more to love about running than my pace!Track 11

Afraid to set a goal

At the beginning of the year, my 12 year old niece signed a contract with my sister that states that if she successfully receives good marks for her exams, she will be allowed to attend all the school disco’s. It came as no surprise recently that she was not allowed to attend the latest disco due to low marks because her goals were a tad unrealistic to begin with.Dom goals

But I do feel her pain. Setting my own running goals lately is a challenge. I’m committed to my training and at this stage, my coach has made me run each and every day to build up consistency and a good foundation. But in the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking about my goals and more specifically, the pace I would like to run.

I signed up with Coach Dave to run faster than my current 8 minutes per km. But what is my specific goal? What pace am I working towards? Can I run at 7 minutes per km? Or should I be brave and set a goal of 6 minutes per km?

You see, this frightens me because I don’t know. I have no idea what I am capable of? I’m worried that I set a goal that is unreachable and unrealistic. I set a 5km PB (personal best) time on Saturday, but then the next day ran a race at 7:49 mins/km. Huh?TTSo I went back to one of my favourite blog posts about setting goals posted by Mark Wolff. Bottom line: My goals need to be realistic. Also, to ensure that I don’t get injured and disappointed, I need to accept that reaching my goals will take time, patience and discipline.

So for now, I’m committing to 3 (attainable) goals:

  1. Don’t skip Monday, Wednesday & Saturday training sessions & give it 110% at every session. Push hard.
  2. Run every day (except Friday). As Coach Dave says: Consistency, consistency, consistency.
  3. Keep a log book & focus on learning how my body responds to training sessions. It’s like Mark points out, “Remember to aim that arrow well, don’t just look at the target but assess the wind direction and speed, stay steady in the pull and release with intended purpose.”The wall

This is all I’m committing to until I feel a bit more confident to set more specific goals.

I’ll also be chatting to my niece about her goals and suggesting she might want to re-submit a revised contract if she has any intentions of attending more disco’s. It’s the smaller goals which are achievable that matter more and build up your confidence to set higher goals than having to deal with failures which set you back.