Over the past month, we’ve given strategies and tips for learning how to walk or run a 5K. We’ve discussed making goals, eating well, staying healthy and handling the creeping Tucson heat. Today, we’ll look at a five-step path for making these changes long-lasting.
One of the most popular sections of running coach certification programs is sports psychology. Of particular interest is the section on how to take risks. Modified from “Running Within,” a helpful book on sports psychology by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott, this five-step plan might be a good way to help you think about taking risks.
We will focus on running, but the concepts apply in just about all situations.
What risks can you take to be a healthier, better runner? Well, you can run more often, run farther, run at a different time of day, run with different people. You can change your diet, change your equipment, change the location of your runs.
This training for the Meet Me Downtown 5K on May 31 may have given you the confidence to train for a half-marathon or even a full marathon or a triathlon. Now you want to run more often or run farther.
1: The first step is to check and see what the worst-case scenario with this change will be. If you can manage the worst-case scenario, ensure that the change will improve your athletic performance and your sense-of-life performance.
So now you want to train for a fall half-marathon. What could go wrong? Well, you might get injured. Your spouse might get grouchy that you’re not home. Your kids might get grouchy that you’re not there for soccer practice or early morning breakfast. You might be tired all the time and your boss might fire you for sleeping on the job.
2: If you can manage these worst-case scenarios, the next step is to check with your support team on possible behaviors. (“Honey, can you take care of the kids in the morning while I get a run in?” “Can we afford for me to get a sports massage once a month to help with potential injuries?”)
3: Then you want to develop a plan. Not just a running schedule, but a plan for managing these changes in your life. This might include schedule changes, food changes and friendship changes.
4: As you continue the training program, you want to regularly assess the outcome. (“Hey kids, do you remember me?” “Dear spouse, are you still OK with me making new friends?”)
5: Finally, keep track of the lessons learned from the risk. What training changes do you want to make? What practical lessons do you need to change? What relationship changes do you need to make? (For example, it could be your turn to be the support team for your spouse’s goals.)
These steps will help you manage a long-term goal with the rest of your life obligations and responsibilities.