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Time to say goodbye - 10 years and over 230 articles with The Irish Times

Jun 04, 2024

Today was the final time I put pen to paper on my Get Running column. With more than 200 articles in print I have now covered all bases in the world of recreational running. There is something in The Irish Times archives for whatever challenge running brings you this summer and beyond.

From good technique to self-belief, injury prevention to motivation, marathon training to parkrun pacing I’ve said it all. I’ll continue nudging you all to get outdoors and move via my own ForgetTheGym blog from now on.

Who will keep me on track?

The biggest risk to my future writing is no longer having an editor or a publishing deadline. Just like the benefits of having a running training plan and a coach, my writing thrives on routine, deadlines and being accountable to others. After a decade of newspaper writing, one would think I’d have finetuned a quick and efficient process, but just like my running I spend a lot of time procrastinating before I even get started. The ideas spin in my head for a week before I even start typing.  But once the first paragraph is complete (or my first 5 minutes of running) I fall into my rhythm and enjoy the process immensely.  I wonder why I took so long to get moving. Sound familiar? I know I’m not the only one to do this.

Accepting I need accountability

I struggle to stick to my self-imposed writing and running deadlines. But I now accept that it is only natural for some of us to prioritise everything else ahead of a task that seems overwhelming or daunting. I’ve given up judging myself for it. I may never be someone who hops out of bed and starts writing or running before checking my inbox. But that wonderful feeling of finishing an article or completing a run I can only experience by actually getting started. I’ve learnt to trick myself into taking the first step without relying on my own willpower or motivation. To make it happen, I know I need others in my corner.

Get Togethers and Deadlines

If you spend as much time as I do putting off those big tasks, in work or in running, try using deadlines and dates to help you. Knowing this column has to be submitted this evening focusses my mind. I won’t let my editor down. Knowing I have a group of women waiting for me on the beach this evening will also ensure I turn up in my running gear later. Having committed to a post pilates coffee with a friend tomorrow morning will get me to that pilates class. Setting up a whatsapp group with some neighbours to arrange sea dips will mean I’ll go myself. There is no room for negotiation when others are depending on me.

Having a Team and a Goal

While not everyone has a newspaper editor or a running coach to keep them on their toes, having a race deadline and a training group has kept many runners disciplined and successful over the years. The support, encouragement and camaraderie lifts the pressure from our own shoulders. If you are tired from trying to convince yourself to do something that seems too difficult to start, it’s time to team up. Get a buddy or join a group. We can do so much more together than solely relying on our own strength, knowledge and willpower. As I launch my marathon coaching programme this month I know the accountability to the coaches and group members takes the hard work out of each individuals training journey. It lightens the load when runners have others to bounce off and learn from eachothers ups and downs.

It’s the same old story

How much have you learnt about yourself and running in the last decade? You may be able to highlight races, personal bests and running achievements, but do you remember the setbacks you also had along the way? Give yourself a pat on the back for the hurdles you have overcome. Your weekly routines and consistency have built your success, not just those memorable race days. You will appreciate all you  have achieved if you delve into your training history and old photos. I’ve not become a super-efficient writer, but I still have written regularly for 10 years. Let’s celebrate what we have achieved in the last decade not focus on what we didn’t do.  As I look back over all the articles, I notice the same themes coming through. We all run for different reasons but to run well into our future, while also enjoying it, is the dream of most of the runners I have met.

What will the next 10 years bring?

If you would like to be enjoying running 10 years from now, it is important you take responsibility for making that a real possibility. Remember why you started running and what you miss when you have not done it for a while. Imagine your future and the headspace running will offer you when you need it most. Get help shaping your future by spending time with others who are further along the path you wish to travel. Look after your body especially that weak point you know might be an issue further down the line. And finally, probably the one message I have repeated the most for 10 years. Stay in your own lane and don’t worry too much about the path others are following. Be inspired by others but try not to compare too much. Running doesn’t always have to be a race especially if it strips the joy and freedom from it. Just get out the door, enjoy the fresh air and keep on running.

This article was first published in The Irish Times on 3rd June 2024

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