Earlier in the week I rather excitedly prepared myself for an eagerly anticipated afternoon out at Tesco. I put on ‘proper’ clothes, ran a brush through my mane of many colours and plucked my eyebrows, as it was the only part of my face that would really be visible anyway. It didn’t matter that what lay beneath my mask was akin to the bearded lady from The Greatest Showman.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with the delights of the shop, but when I got home, I realised that I had forgotten to pick up potatoes. Not a big deal I hear you say, and you would be right, however the delights of the tattie should not be underestimated. This was one of the key components for several of the weekly meals I had planned. Fear not though, all was not lost. The next day I asked my live-in lover (aka the husband) if he could swing by and pick up some potatoes when he was at the petrol station. He walked in later that day with, wait for it…….. baby potatoes!!!! I tried to hide my simmering rage like the pot lid when the tatties start to boil. I couldn’t quite understand why anyone would pick up baby potatoes when the instructions were for potatoes? Surely if someone asks for potatoes, they mean the multi-purpose variety. Good old King Edwards or Maris Piper classics. I realised I hadn’t been specific enough.
The next day I nipped into Home Bargains. Not the first place that springs to mind for the potato purchaser, I know, but I had to pick up some toilet rolls and useless household items, so it made sense to try and kill a few birds with the one bargain hunting stone. When I arrived at the fruit and veg section, the shelf was bare, barren, depotatofied, a green crate of nothingness. I left the shop feeling unfulfilled and slightly bereft as I had no time to visit another before picking up my daughter. I should have gone to the actual supermarket. I tried to cut corners and it didn’t work!
Where am I going with this? Well, those potatoes made me think about a few of the running goals I have had over the years. My goals have always been attainable to where I have been with my fitness at a particular time, but one goal has always been just as elusive as those spuds.
Trying to get your times down can be a bit like losing weight. Taking the big chunks off is relatively easy at the start, but when you get a bit quicker or a bit thinner, it’s just a case of ritually chopping away at the trunk of a tree, working hard until you knock that baby down to smash your goal. I had managed to go sub 40 minutes for 10k before I joined my local running club (by 2 seconds), but hey, I had finally made it! I couldn’t actually believe I had managed it after years of trying, and only by the time it takes to pass gas or blink. Although very interestingly a bee can flap it’s wings 200 times each second, so 2 seconds probably felt like a considerable amount of time for the bee community.🐝
Anyway, after I joined Central Athletics Club, with the consistency of training, the incorporation of speed sessions and the motivation from friends and our coach Derek, my times came down and down and down. Every time I ran a new PB, I would set myself a new goal for a faster time. In Spring 2015 I managed to run 35.23 for a 10k. Ok, I’m kind of cheating as it was on the track, but a 10k is a 10k and the 25 laps is rather monotonous compared to the Balfron 10k for example – although a lot less hilly. Let’s say it was more mentally challenging! My road PB was 35.30, so not a kick in the arse away from it. My goal for the remainder of the year was to go sub 35 minutes. I ran race after race, continuing with my training day in, day out, choosing flat races that had PB potential, but I couldn’t quite grasp that time.
The Stirling 10k was going to be one of my last chances that year and it was also one of the most likely places to bag that PB. Stirling had been the venue for my first sub-40, despite puking as I crossed the finish line, missing a small child by a very small margin. The course is fast and flat, which is one of the unique selling points of the race. This also means that it attracts the fastest runners from all over Scotland, so there would be plenty of vest tails to try and cling to.
The week before the race my glands flared up again, a common occurrence for me at the time. I had picked up a virus and couldn’t run. Then unfortunately I had to get some heart tests done and subsequently joined the baby train which derailed me somewhat. The sub 35 10k is my elusive tattie! I never did manage to go sub 35 for my 10k, but maybe I shouldn’t write myself off! Some of the fastest Scottish women have ran PBs in their 40s! It’s not the right time in my life jut now to be putting in the hours and training needed, but who knows in a few years? Right now I’m just enjoying my running, with the goal being to burn as many calories as it takes to allow me to eat at least one scone with jam and clotted cream every day!
Running goals are targets that you can be really clear about, but they need to be personal to you. We’ve all heard of SMART goals. Choose a time, a distance or a challenge you want to work towards and the rest is all about making a plan, and sticking to it come hail, rain or shine. Don’t worry about anyone else, focus on what you are doing. Sometimes your goals may elude you, like the potatoes, but if you give it your very best shot then you can’t be disappointed, and you’ll find that you may not be far away from reaching them. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t committed enough to those spuds anyway!
· Join a club! I seriously can’t overstate how amazing clubs are and not just for helping you get quicker. There are a myriad of positive reasons why joining a club is a great choice, which I’ll write about in a few weeks. I’ve been a member of Central Athletics Club for around 12 years and I also started training with RTC Warriors in Falkirk a few years ago. Both are amazing groups with fantastic people, a range of speed sessions to take part in and with runners of all ages and abilities! Something for everyone! So, if you have recently laced up your trainers again, or started for the first-time during lockdown, then go along to your local club once we can mix again.
· Setting yourself goals are a great way to stay motivated. My first 10k was 52.32 and I was chuffed to have a time. I didn’t know if it was good or bad and I didn’t care. My goal had been to finish. Then my next goal was to take a minute off, then go sub-50. Running a 35 minute 10k never even crossed my mind at that stage.
· Some days you will find that the shelf is empty. Don’t worry about those days. If you can force yourself out on a day like that, then you are another step closer to your goal and probably mentally stronger than the day before.
· No one else can go out and get your goals for you. They can support you and listen, but it’s up to you at the end of the day! You can do it!!!
· Stock up on tatties next time you’re at Tesco. They have many benefits for the trotting community, especially post run!
For all the spud thirsty runners out there, find out more about how potatoes can boost your running.
For more information on those fascinating bees, this is a great website.
For help with goal setting take a look at this website.