In my previous blog, I mentioned how you can use the Exercise Sphere to create a balanced training programme. In many cases, athletes will dive straight into putting together a training plan, but there are a few other steps that should be addressed before this stage.
Firstly, Planning & Preparation. You should be doing some of this already by applying your mind to your run, answering the “why?” questions and goal setting. There is quite a difference between planning and preparation, but for the purpose of this blog, planning refers to the thought behind running and preparation refers to actions taken to achieve that goal.
Next is Distractions. What could possibly distract, deter, prevent you from sticking to a training plan and achieving your goal? What are you going to do about these?
Nutrition and Training Plan are fairly obvious to all runners. Don’t overthink this in the early stages. If you are not going to be running for more than 2 hours (and especially if you are not in a hot climate) then all you need is some water. Secondly, if you are planning to do a long run for the first time, then you will need nutrition and - more importantly - you need to practice your nutrition. I have seen runners immobilised at the side of the road, retching and with stomach cramps because the nutrition they have taken doesn’t agree with them. Practice taking your nutrition on your training runs.
A key item for runners to pay specific attention to is their feet. It doesn’t matter if everything else is 100% - if your feet go, then so do you. Make sure you take very good care of them.
Mind training – this one I cannot stress enough! This is the key to perseverance, endurance and managing hardship. When doing a really tough run, it is very seldom the body that lets you down, it is your mind - so make sure you train it.
Other resources refers to people who can help you in some way, either directly or indirectly. Don’t try and go it alone - you will be amazed at how many people will want to help. Furthermore, think about your own, untapped internal resources that may be lying dormant - how will those come into play?
The Event plan refers to putting a plan in place for the day of the race, or for your regular running routine. This ensures that when you wake up you can allow your mind to stay calm and relaxed and focused only on the run. Know how you will start, where you will walk if it’s needed and how you will have the energy to finish those last couple of miles.
In your training plan you should already have rest days - these are as important, and possibly even more so, than running days. Recovery includes food, nutrition, hydration and rest.
The purpose of this series of blogs is to help you to start using your mind more effectively when you run. Plan B is part of this and is designed to avoid disappointment and feelings of loss. It sometimes happens that after doing many months of training, it is no longer possible for you to take part in the race that you were training for. So, you plan for this beforehand. Perhaps there is another race a few weeks afterwards that you can do, or you can move your goal sideways into achieving something slightly different?
Then we have Other – it's important to remember that no two people are the same, everyone is unique, and only you know what other factors may apply to your specific balanced running programme.
Finally, we come to Review. It is good practice to do a review to see how well you did and how accurate your programme was. What went well, what went badly, and of course – “Why?” Analyse each factor on the sphere in detail and make the necessary adjustments for the next time, and see how much more smoothly and better you perform during your next run.
About the author: Jon O’Hanlon was the first person to run across Africa (raising awareness and funds for elephant conservation and water sustainability) and is a mental wellness training coach and motivational speaker. Read Jon's blog 'How setting goals will change your run' here.