Many of us measure our running success with numbers – most often, our personal bests. Improving your time over a measured distance is the easiest way of recognising success, but it’s not easy to get a PB and it can be demotivating when you keep training and trying, but that PB eludes you. However, it’s not to only way to measure your running success. Here are five alternative ways of feeling good about your running…
Running by feel
Mentally take note of how you feel whilst out running and compare it with how you felt last month or last year. Maybe you can run further than before without needing a walking break, or perhaps you are able to complete a longer run without feeling tired. You can also try to mix it up a little by trying out some new terrain – leaving the Garmin at home and challenging yourself to a trail run can leave you feeling invigorated. Keeping a training log that records how you felt after each run can help you to see your progress… and can help you to guard against overtraining by making you aware of when you are fatigued.
Number of events completed
Instead of worrying about your race times, consider focusing on the number of events you complete each year. You can also work on collecting the three Ms if that’s your kind of thing: miles, memories and medals. Maybe sign up for one event each month. It can also be fun to try something completely different, such as an adventure race, multisport event (duathlon, aquathlon, triathlon or swicle/aquabike) or an endurance race based on time, not distance. If you live near a parkrun, then you could aim for your next milestone, whether that’s 50, 100, 250 or 500.
Completing a running streak
Perhaps you should try a running streak, where you run every day for a period of time, regardless of the weather. Your runs can be as long (or as short) as you like, as long as they are at least 1 mile. This can have some disadvantages, as you may be ill at some stage or have other commitments that make it difficult, but you can set your own rules about what you can achieve – maybe a 30 days streak is all it will take to get your mojo back. An alternative is to aim to complete a certain mileage by the end of each month or by the end of the year.
Consider your time logged/years running
Look back on your running history. For how many years have you been a runner? There may be times when I feel like I’m not achieving anything, but I started doing parkrun in 2010, so I’ve been able to call myself a runner for over 5 years. I’ve had short periods of time when an injury has got the better of me, but I’ve always returned to running.
Find out your age grading
This is one of the most magical stats for me. Each birthday does not need to be treated with gloom as for runners it’s a chance to receive a better age grading without doing anything different. parkrun tells each runner their age grading, but if you don’t do parkrun, you can calculate it for yourself. This way, even if you are not beating old PBs, you may still see progress as your age grading for specific distance may have improved.