Evaluate And Plan

It’s all too easy to forget the achievements of the past year, especially as we edge towards the final days of 2012. Races have come and gone and we are left with experiences, memories, times (hopefully new PBs), and finishers trophies. Those early months of 2012 already seem so long ago. For me, the race season started back in March at the D33 ultramarathon with a further 6 events in fairly quick succession, finally ending in August, which itself now feels like a distant memory!

As the New Year approaches, consider the following:

  • What were your goals in 2012?
  • Did you achieve them?
  • If not, have you identified where things went wrong?
  • What have you learned this past year?
  • Did races and training go to plan?
  • Did nutrition strategies work for you?
  • Did trainers and kit work for you?

The list is by no means complete. There’s one question that is almost guaranteed a response in the affirmative.

  • Is there room for improvement?

Most people, myself included, will be able to easily identify where improvements can be made. Don’t, however, get hung up on the negatives. It’s all too easy to focus on these at the expense of giving ourselves a well deserved pat on the back. Maybe that new PB eluded you but what can you take from that day?

Anyone who has run an ultra will appreciate that there’s no such thing as a typical day. You can run the exact same route and yet experience a completely different run from one day to another. One day you might find yourself in ‘The Zone’, the next might be the biggest slog of your life. The difference may be down to some obvious factor such as an increased temperature, or it might have no discernible cause.

What matters is how you deal with it. You may not finish the day with a new PB, but what you can take from that day? What did you learn from it? Did you finish in the face of adversity?

My experience at the West Highland Way Race this year is a perfect example. Anyone who reads my posts will no doubt be all too familiar with the tales of stomach issues and projectile vomit. Reflecting on that race, I took away a number of positives. For one, I have a new definition of ‘low’, which has set the bar for how bad I can feel and yet still finish.

I put that lesson to good use at my very next race, the Clyde Stride. My body hadn’t recovered fully by the time of the race and, by the 13 mile mark, I was really suffering. However, I didn’t quit. The pain and suffering just didn’t compare to that of the West Highland Way Race and, at ‘only’ 40 miles, I was sure I could grind out a finish. I did. It wasn’t pretty but I did it and, as a result of my determination to finish, I took away a few great memories – Running and enjoying some banter with Thomas Robb up until approx. 18 miles; Slogging it out with Neil MacRitchie, who was similarly suffering from the West Highland Way Race, from mile 20 through to the finish; Having a red squirrel shoot through a field to the left of me, jumping through a fence and landing at my feet before scurrying away; and, of course, finally crossing that finish line (only to be reminded that the Devil O’ The Highlands was only 2 weeks later, not 3!). Had I not finished, I would not have most of those memories.

So, be sure to evaluate your year, celebrate your successes, and consider how best to improve on these to attain your 2013 goals.

Happy Running :o)