Two weeks ago today I dramatically pushed back the limits of my running. In one morning I went from a best distance of 12km in an hour and fifteen minutes (done on a treadmill in my gym), to running 12 miles round a Welsh lake, at a better pace than I have done in the gym, and without stopping.
To achieve this is used several personal development techniques. How did I do this, and how can you use these same techniques to achieve your exercise goal?
Inspiring Health and Fitness
Keeping me going was my overall inspiring health and fitness goal. This goal is to run the Flora London Marathon 2007. I realized if I could not run the 12 miles, how could I run 26? I also realized that if I could achieve this leap in distance then the marathon should be mine. It was my desire to cross the line next April that kept me going every step of the way. Besides, twice round the lake would be a marathon! If I could do one lap, surely I could do two laps?
To Do: You need to have a health and fitness goal that is achievable, but sufficiently high to excite and stretch you.
Mentoring and Encouragement
One of the biggest things that helped me to achieve this breakthrough was the encouragement and advice of an experienced marathon runner (my mentor for the run). But above all my mentor ran every step of the way with me. Having someone tell you that you can do something that you previously thought impossible, and the person telling you this being qualified to do so is very powerful. You have no excuse for not pushing your boundaries. When this person then goes every step of the way with you, advising and encouraging you it is even more powerful. Having a mentor can be one of the most powerful tools for personal development you can use.
To Do: Find someone who is qualified to take you one step further towards you health and fitness goal, and ask them to take that step with you.
I kept score at regular intervals along the run by checking my heart rate on my heart rate monitor. One of my aims was to run the distance within a set heart rate range. I congratulated myself every time my watch showed I was within that range. In this way I was scoring myself to achieve a regular pace. I am glad to say I got a perfect score by the finish line.
To Do: Decide on a way to score yourself, and stick to it. Celebrate every time you win!.
Goal Setting and Rewards
Throughout the run I kept setting goals such as “get to the castle” or “make it to the dam” or near the end I was saying “just to the next lamppost.” In this way I broke the 12 miles down into manageable chunks, and would celebrate each time I achieved my goal. I also had the overriding goals of running all the way (no walking or stopping) and setting a good pace, all of which I achieved.
To Do: Break you next exercise session into tiny goals, and reward yourself every time you achieve these mini goals.
Running for 2 hours and 10 minutes was just as much a mental challenge as physical. My mind was full of doubts and my body full of aches, and part of it was just plain boring. So how did I cope? One way was by distracting myself. I remembered wonderful holidays, focused on a particular lamb or tree that I was running towards, or visualized the Power of Intention falling from the sky and filling me with great energy and endurance. Anything to take my mind off how I felt and how much more there was to go.
To Do: Plan in advance to remember something exciting, and remember it in vivid detail.
Power of Intention
I have been listening to at CD set in my car called The Power of Intention by Wayne W Dyer. The CDs talk of us being made out of and part of a universal energy. That universal energy is always available for us to use. I am still not quite sure what to make of this yet, but while running I called upon this energy to fill me. I finished, so it worked didn’t it? Perhaps, but at the very least it worked as a mental distraction.
To Do: Find a cassette or CD to listen to that will give you a more positive outlook for your activity.
From deciding to do the run on the Friday, to actually doing it on the Sunday, I made sure I told every one of the 55 people I was camping with that weekend, that I would “run the lake.” This set up a huge amount of peer pressure for me. If I failed the run I would painfully and publicly fail BIG. This created a powerful incentive for me to succeed in the run. Also as a result of succeeding the run after telling everyone, a lot of respect was generated which translated into a large number of sponsorships for the charity I am running for St Ann’s Hospice.
To Do: Increase peer pressure on yourself by telling everyone what you plan to do, and ask them to check up on you later to make sure you have done it.
As you can see I was able to use many personal development techniques in order to take me from the initial challenge to run the lake, to actually running it and running it well. Without the use of the above techniques I would have been less likely to finish. The techniques dramatically increased my chance of success, and I’ll continue to use them till I cross that London Marathon finish line (and beyond). Make sure you use these techniques too.