Neil Featherby: When a personal best is not a personal best
(c) Ryan McVay
I have lost my running mojo is something I regularly hear especially at this time of year from those who perhaps had set their sights back in January on a spring half or full marathon and then once completed have now lost a little direction or are finding it hard to pick themselves up again after all the effort.
At the same time I have also heard it from a number of people who watched the magnificent sight of what is the London Marathon and then despite being advised to work into a running programme very carefully, they ignored that advice and with too much early exuberance they have done too much too soon and have now ground to a bit of a halt.
Whilst there are still plenty of races and events in this year's running calendar to take part in, it does not matter who you are, there will be times when there is a slump in motivation. If and when these occasions do happen, it is important for you or your coach to understand why you may be feeling this way.
There are plenty of things you can do to get your enthusiasm back if you really want to, but whatever your level of ability, we all need goals.
First and foremost though, when setting any new challenge, it is important to follow a plan which you know is achievable to not burn out before you get there.
I personally believe that if you have the drive and a dream to one day climb the highest of mountains, then don't be put off, but think about how you are going to get there and how long it may take to achieve such ambitions.
Make sure you also include short and medium term goals which are of course more immediately achievable and don't be put off if and when you have to deal with any minor setbacks.
For those who really do want to aim high, don't let your ambitions bring added pressure or conflict either, especially from outside influences and be clear that you know exactly what you need to do and any sacrifices you may need to make to attain your goal. At the same time, the only person you should be doing this for is you and of course those closest to you.
When I first started running, I just wanted to run a marathon, but within two years I had a dream to win an England vest.
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I told no more than just two people due to the fear of firstly being laughed at and then of course not wanting the added pressure of knowing that others might be watching and waiting for me to succeed or of course fail.
Nowadays with social media being a huge part of our lives, it is so easy to post our intentions followed by the usual likes and praise.
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This is great, but if in the cold light of day you then start thinking that perhaps you have shared your thoughts a little too prematurely, this may just lend itself to making your challenge more difficult.
One particular young athlete who I know, recently finished a 5k race with a new PB. With lots of pats on the back, he then expected or perhaps more appropriately put, felt that he was expected to PB again less than a week later over the same distance.
Unfortunately he didn't albeit just six seconds short which in my book was two very good performances in a such a short space of time.
Nevertheless, it was quite clear that he was disappointed and I get this, but over the next few days, his mindset changed somewhat.
The high level of motivation and energy just a couple of weeks earlier now became mixed with feelings of fatigue and dare I say just a little negativity.
With this in mind, I looked at the stats from his watch to notice that the first race was indeed nearly a full one tenth of a mile shorter than the second race ie 3.03 to 3.12 miles.
I have checked this out with other runners who also did both races to confirm this as well.
Doing some calculations, I worked out that his second run was actually eight seconds a mile quicker. Needless to say there is a pro and a con to all of this, but at the same time it also demonstrates just how our minds can affect how we feel and of course what we call our mojo.
At the end of the day, it really is all about retaining our levels of motivation for which we need goals to satisfy our own personal needs.
They need to be realistic and you need to have a clear and structured plan which is designed to take you along your journey.
Stay focused, stay hungry and keep believing even when there may be a blip. Most importantly, keep going forward and enjoy the ride as it might be a long one particularly for those who really do dare to dream big.