Now that I’ve been back into running, I’ve realized where my fitness plan always fell down. I need a goal. Without goals to keep me accountable, I know I find it too easy to slack off and give up. If there’s not a challenge in it, I just get bored. But now that I’ve finally figured this out, I can put together a fitness plan that works for me in the long-term. Previously, I’d challenge myself to do a race then when I finished, that was it, I acted like I was done. But I wasn’t done, trying to maintain your level of fitness isn’t something that’s ever really done. I just didn’t have the next thing lined up, the next challenge to keep me motivated.
So I’ve decided to change things. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was up and running again with the goal of running in a 10K this month. But this time, I’m not stopping there. This time, I’m planning what’s next. And what’s next is that I’m going to challenge myself to run a 10K race each month for the next 12 months.
Why? First and foremost, I need to do a better job of taking care of my body and keeping fit. Second, I enjoy running. For me it’s something that, barring injury, I know I can maintain. And 10K for me is a good manageable distance to that pushes me just enough. In fact, my Up and Running coach Julia Jones calls the 10K distance “absolute perfection.” So for the next year, I will have goals that keep me motivated and training throughout the year to keep up my level of fitness.
I haven’t worked out all the logistics yet, but I’ve already started. My first race (actually a 7K) was at the end of April, the Blenheim Palace 7K. This was a great race to start with, small, local and unassuming. And its tough hilly course meant I really pushed myself. Yes, there was a guy who finished ahead of me running the whole race while pushing a pushchair with TWO CHILDREN IN IT, but I ran at a personal best pace and crushed my goal time. The most encouraging thing about the race was that fact that of the top 5 overall finishers, 4 were over 40, demonstrating that age is no barrier to just getting out there and doing it. April – check.
For the month of May, I’ve got the Oxford Town & Gown 10K lined up this Sunday. Then in June, Phil somehow convinced me to join in the Zest Alpro Challenge near Henley-on-Thames. This one is actually a 10K adventure run and I don’t completely know what I’ve gotten myself into but I do get to go down a water slide. With 3 months of races in the books, I’m now looking for races to add throughout the year. Stay tuned as I put a schedule together. Please leave a comment or get in touch if there are any races you recommend (UK & Europe).
To make this challenge even more interesting though, I want my running to serve some other purpose other than just keeping me fit. So I’m going raise money as I run for a cause near and dear to my heart, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, the major UK charity offering information and support to people affected by Irritable Bowel Diseases. Aside from research into treatments and a possible cure, I believe some of the most important work funded by Crohn’s and Colitis UK is the support they provide to young people affected by the disease. In fact this year they are focusing on the devastating impact Crohn’s and Colitis can have on young people.
Some of the challenges young people face include: falling behind in education, struggles with employment, difficulty maintaining a social life and relationships and moving from paediatric to adult health care. I was first diagnosed at the age of twenty, trying to keep up with college courses and maintaining my social life, all while trying to avoid the embarrassment of an accident while I walked from one class to the next. Children and teens with IBD can find these emotional and physical challenges almost impossible to cope with on a daily basis. Crohn’s and Colitis UK works to provide them and their families with a much-needed support system.
So my year-long 10K running challenge will keep me fit but also allow me to do my little part to raise support and awareness for Crohn’s & Colitis. If you want to help my cause and get involved, head over to my JustGiving page and donate. You’ll also be able to follow along with my race diaries here on the blog.
And, why not join me in a race!