Restarting your running regime (and your life!)

How to get back into life and running when you are unmotivated…

As readers of my blog and my long suffering friends and family will be aware, I have a dream of completing a certain ultra running challenge. It requires a full year of dedicated training and perseverance, and oodles of will power. Unfortunately I also have a problem. I am unfit, a bit overweight and totally unmotivated. This sort of ruins my goal before I have even started.

The challenge by the way, is the Hardmoors Grand Slam: four ultra marathons run across sections of the Cleveland Way on the North York Moors. 30, 55, 110 and 60 mile trail races respectively, that must be completed within the same calendar year. I have completed all but the 110 mile race (which is the entire Cleveland Way run under 36 hours) over the years, so I pretty much know what is required of me. But this actually makes me even more despondent, as I know that I am literally miles away from being in suitable shape to give this series my best effort. So what is my problem? What is stopping me from accomplishing a long held goal in my life?

If I know what is required, and if I do actually know how to train to reach my desired level of necessary fitness, then why can I not put a pair of trainers on, head out the front door and start putting in some serious training?!? Well, the best excuse I can come up with is that it’s a head problem. (Apart from the muscles) I feel like Rocky Balboa in Rocky 2, where he is overwhelmed by the condition of Adrian after the birth of his son. He simply refuses to train because his ‘head isn’t in the right place’. And that is exactly how I feel myself. My mind feels numb, my body feels ruined and my whole being feels out of kilter with my intended purpose in life. I simply don’t feel like doing any training anymore.

Allow me to explain… Andy’s World is in a bit of a mess at the moment. I am struggling to find new full time employment, my personal circumstances have just changed dramatically and I no longer live under the gorgeous woods that I used to love running through. No longer do I have the winding tracks and steep hills of Guisborough Woods, the stunning views from the top of Highcliff, Hangstone Stone or Roseberry or the liberating freedom of the North York Moors. Oh no, I now have to run past the boarded up windows of closed businesses, council estates littered with crisp packets and Morrisons shopping trolleys, and hordes of screaming kids. Possibly armed… That’s a lot to digest in a matter of months! And while I will always be a believer in personal responsibility for our circumstances, finding that magical spark and drive to recreate meaningful momentum in my life is proving almost impossible at the minute. And so for the last six months of this year I have been rotting away in a my own private pity party. And I should know better – I’ve been here before! I lost my start-up business in the recession of 2007, and that was a horrible experience. But I did recover.

So what am I doing about it this time around..?

Well, here’s the thing… no matter how sorry I feel for myself, or how angry I am with ‘my Maker’ for not helping me out when I really feel He should, I will always be firm and immovable in my beliefs. And my beliefs are this:

  • Life and the universe are impartial – they do not conspire against you personally! That is not to say that ‘the Boss’ doesn’t step in every now and then to discipline those who follow His way when they need it (like a father disciplines his naughty child). It just means that I am where I am now because of decisions I have made recently, and because of external factors that would affect everyone in my sort of position equally! Knowing the difference between an annoyed Creator and general life circumstance requires wisdom sometimes, but I guess that’s what your conscience is for.
  • No matter how crap life appears to become, we as individuals are solely responsible for how we deal with, and handle whatever challenges we find in front of us. We either defeat it by finding a way over, around or straight bloody through the walls we face in front of us, or we stay trapped. It’s that simple. We don’t have to like it, but it is a fact. Overcome or be defeated – simple.
  • More often than not we do not have a ‘Rocky moment’ of inspiration, where the light bulb suddenly goes on and we get a random urge to drink raw egg yolks at dawn and run up lots of stairs… winning seems to be a lot more boring than that. From what I can tell, (and please feel free to give me your own thoughts) succeeding at something, whatever it is, most often happens with plain old hard and consistent work. Nothing glamorous. Just doing the right thing at the right time. All of the time (or most of it, anyway). Even when you do not feel like doing whatever you know in your heart you are meant to be doing. Taking the hard choice instead of the comfortable one. Kaizen. One tiny improvement every day.
  • It all starts with the mind. The human spirit is capable of great and wonderful things – so long as you actually unleash whatever it is that you were personally given! You need to make that firm, resolute decision to forsake the easy decisions for the hard, awkward, boring, tedious and initially, unenjoyable ones. In other words, you need to choose to embrace the long, hard slog. You need to graft at your craft! That warm, fuzzy feeling that we all love to bask in will come later on. But for now we need to start hammering away at the wall in front of us. Breaking it down – one brick at at time… This is when it helps to have faith.
  • God really does help those who help themselves – it’s true! (It’s an easy statement to distort by taking it out of context – so just don’t!)

Personally, I am going to try and write more. A lot more. This blog post is my effort. Training wise, well I’m going to actually start doing some! I am going to actually get out there and strategically build up my runs and fitness to where I know I need to be. I am going to forget all the days that I have lost due to ‘fat and lazy disease’ and start afresh on a new page with what I’ve already got. Do the things that work; change the things that don’t. I am going to inspire myself by reading and remembering all the things that I love about achieving my personal goals through the use of running. And I’m going to bloody well enjoy it!

I used to love running home after an eight hour shift at work at midnight. Everyone thought I was mental – and the more they laughed, the more I knew I was doing the right type of training! And this was also the first time I conquered my one time nemesis – the Hardmoors 55. It was my third attempt and my training paid off handsomely for me. As for my life direction in general – well, I have decided on a new course. So I am going to pursue it. I am putting in every effort that I know is needed, and I am going to live what I believe. I now want results.

As Dr Frank-N-Furter sang in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: ‘Don’t dream it… be it…’


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