Back of the pack? Relax! How not being hard on yourself makes running easier

Work/life balance can be a funny old thing at RunBirmingham – when we’re not running with our inspirations – you lot – some of us are running anyway.

RB activator Sally has seen her fair share of events this year. Here’s her advice for those going beyond their first steps and looking to improve their running.

‘As runners we can give ourselves quite a hard time. “I’m not fast enough”, “I’m not getting any better”, “I feel like I’m going backwards rather than improving”. Any of these sound familiar? When I hear this from others, I can relate – I’ve been there and think most runners have. We find that there’s always another target – whether it’s going further, being able to run for longer or getting faster. In many ways this is healthy – these new goals are what can keep us motivated. But don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up for not being where you think you should. You know from having put the ground work in when you started running that it takes patience, effort and time so you need to put the work in.

It’s really important not to compare yourself to others. There are so many variables; age, gender, exercise history, health history, that you’re rarely comparing like with like.

I encourage my runners to concentrate on their own goals – whether it’s completing their loop in a personal best time or making it up that hill without a walk break. When you set yourself goals, do what will make YOU feel good? If it’s getting faster, have mini targets – don’t expect miracles overnight.. That’s how I approached my own target to get faster at the 5k – it took some time and was a gradual process but was worth it in the end.

There are various free phone apps you can use to measure your times if you don’t have a gps watch. And there are free weekly events like parkrun and Great Run Locals which are timed so you can track your progress. Remember though that not every run can be your personal best – we all have off days and in fact you owe it to your body just to run easy on purpose some times and allow the recovery that leads to improvement.

So, be kind to yourself, set achievable goals and remember to celebrate the journey you’ve already come on.’

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