As the sands of time keep moving and another month is already upon us, I always feel, the start of a new year, month, week or day brings a freshness that allows us to start over again. I’m not one for new years resolutions but I believe that the new year brings hope and the promise of bigger and better things for the months ahead. Some will toe the line and make progress as the days go by, but for others, the promises they made to themselves will go unfulfilled. This has often been my narrative when January comes around. I’ll go gung ho into something only to fail after a short period. 2024 was different. After a sluggish period after the Dublin marathon, I needed something to get me back into the running groove. The Runner’s Diary 5k a day or more challenge was the perfect tonic. It gave me a reason to get out and run everyday in January. I made a deal with myself to run at least 5 miles a day. And I accomplished just that. It was a great way to start 2024 and get over the post Dublin marathon blues. It wasn’t without its difficulties. There were some days that I didn’t feel like running. Be it cold or rainy days, head colds or man flu, but the thoughts of breaking my January streak and the encouragement of seeing so many others journey on Strava kept getting me out the door.
Post Dublin Marathon was a struggle for me. I knew I needed a break both physically and mentally. I had gone from little running over the last number of years to training and running two marathons in 2023. While both races and training went extremely well, the body and mind needed some time to recover. Taking time off from running for me is a double edged sword. While I know the benefits I get from running and love the good routine of training and racing regularly, I can slip out of this positive mind frame very easily. A week or two off turns into a month and a month rolls into the next month. All of a sudden I’ve undone all the good work and training. This is what I allowed to happen during the months of November and December. My motivation seemed to shut off and it’s like I went into self sabotage mode. All the good habits I had built up went out the window. I have allowed this to happen to me in the past. While I know the benefits that running will give me with my mental health/wellness, often for me, that inner battle is much harder than that of training or racing. It’s something that I must continue to work on going forward.
So what can I do to keep myself motivated and on the straight and narrow? The Runners Diary 5k challenge for January was a huge boost. I posted on Strava and committed to meet anyone who was willing to turn up in Carrigaline at 7pm any night for a run. This gave me extra initiative and incentive to get out every night.
Writing this blog also helps. It allows me to see everything that is positive about running and the people involved in our sport. Also, It wouldn’t be much of a running blog if I didn’t actually run!
Other techniques I must use going forward are to do more group runs and more running with my Eagle club mates. There is nothing like that joy of running with a group no matter what the pace. I can chat, or just listen to the chat, or just listen to the sound of runners hitting the ground underneath. It’s Magic.
I have a few races coming up to keep my flow going. The Kinsale 10 mile is the first one on the horizon. Being from Kinsale originally and the fact that the race goes past my original home are surely worthy reasons to keep training going. The Cork City and Dublin Marathons are also both pencilled into the calendar and I’ll talk about them more in the future.
As always, I try to find a few nuggets of inspiration wherever I can, and music is always a source I can rely on. While I’m not a musical person, I can not hold a tune nor can I play a musical instrument, but I love listening to music. If I’m not listening to ‘The Runners Diary Podcast’ I am listening to music. My family might say that my varied musical choices might be questionable but I’ll play music anywhere. In the car, at home, at work, gardening, wherever I can listen to a few tunes, I will. The only place I don’t listen to music is on runs. I like to take in my surroundings while getting my miles in! One person who I have started listening to alot over the last number of years is Chris Stapleton. He is an American Country star and most have probably never heard of him. I was introduced to his music by a work colleague a few years ago and haven’t looked back since, he is now on my regular rotation on my Spotify playlists. A lot of his songs have some deep and meaningful lyrics and one in particular I just can’t get out of my head. His song ‘Starting Over’ talks about starting afresh and the hope of better days ahead. The lyrics in the verse below remind us that we all face challenges, and that sometimes we might fail, but it can be all worth it in the end.
‘This might not be an easy time
There’s rivers to cross and hills to climb
And some days we might fall apart
And some nights might feel cold and dark
But nobody wins afraid of losing
And the hard roads are the ones worth choosing
Someday we’ll look back and smile
And know it was worth every mile’