My Running Goal for 2017

2016 - what can I say?  For me, and the rest of the world I daresay,  it was defined by a fortune cookie I opened years ago which said, "May you live in interesting times."  According to the sliver of paper tucked into the sweet treat, it was purported to be an old Chinese curse but actually isn't per my research, but let me know what you think by sending me an email or direct message via Instagram or via Twitter.

Upon reflection, I did not achieve my goal of improving my half marathon time in 2016, but I didn't expect to due to a recurring piriformis injury throughout my training period.  Yes, a real pain in the hiney, let me tell you.  I have since been more diligent about stretching and strength training, which is probably not a bad thing in the greater scheme of things.

For 2017, I have been contemplating signing up for the Great Ocean Road Marathon in May taking place between Lorne and Apollo Bay.  I love this part of Australia and I am glad to be within an easy distance of it.  Yes, it will be hilly, windy, and everything else in between, but it is so very beautiful in this part of the world that I may as well attempt it at least once in my lifetime.  My butt may not thank me for it but you gotta dare a few things now and then, right?  And I can avoid my overly enthusiastic neighbourhood magpie friends come late winter/early spring too, when breeding season comes around again, by signing up for an autumn marathon.  Sounds better and better already.  Honestly, how to prevent and/or avoid magpie attacks/swooping is worthy of a separate blog entry in itself (don't worry, my shredded nerves have recovered and my opinion of their lovely birdsong is unchanged.  They are just super grouchy during breeding season).

Please share your running goals for this year.  Trying a new distance?  Or have a different health goal in mind?  Would love to hear about it!


How to Avoid Getting into a New Year's Rut

At the beginning of a new year you are usually full of enthusiasm for the possibilities of the next 12 months and it's likely you've also made a list of your goals or resolutions and even worked out a plan or next steps to achieving those goals.

The first days or weeks go along just fine and then you start coming up against some challenges or obstacles you thought you had figured out.  For most people, I believe the three main killers to achieving your goals or resolutions are the following:

(1) Lack of motivation

(2) Lack of inspiration

(3) Distraction

A lack of motivation usually creeps in rather than stopping you in your tracks.  For me, it starts off as being too tired or busy to attend to my goals which concern my writing, running, or creative pursuits.  A deficit of inspiration soon follows and starts feeding off the lack of motivation and, finally, to top it off I then start distracting myself with everything and anything to avoid taking the steps to achieving my goals.  Sound familiar?

Over the last couple of years, I have taken stock of what hasn't worked for me in the past and I have found the next 3 tips the best way to get past any ruts:

(1) Spend time on your goals no matter how short

You might not think spending 5 or 10 minutes working on your goals or resolutions would be worth it but, those few minutes usually end up becoming 15, 20, or even 30 minutes without you noticing.  A short walk or run turns into something longer in fine weather or even on cold, rainy days, just being outside in nature provides ample motivation.

(2) Don't aim for perfection the first time around

This year I hope to get one or two short stories published.  I have written several articles and reviews in the recent past but fiction is something I haven't touched in a while.  I have plenty of ideas, with some that I like more than others, filling up a number of scraps of paper and notebooks, but it has been some time since I have crafted a true work of fiction.

Last weekend, I decided to start writing my first short story for this year and it was messy, terrible stuff.  But you know what?  It was cathartic to get that first attempt out of the way.  I found out how not to begin my short story and what I liked and didn't like about where the story would go.  I have started my second attempt, kept some ideas I liked from the first try, with a clearer understanding of how the story will develop.  The main objective is to get a feel for what you are trying to achieve by trying out different things and realise you're on a journey of discovery.

(3) Be consistent - slow and steady wins the race

One of my other goals this year is to improve my half-marathon time by 10-15 minutes compared to last year.  It's going to require a lot of hard work but the simplest thing I can do is to be consistent in doing the additional speed work, hills, and strength training needed to achieve this.  I've already changed some of my usual routine of simply going out for a run in the early morning and I have started to notice improvements in my times and comfort levels during runs.  Spread out your next steps towards achieving your goals, follow through on them on a regular basis and you will soon begin to see minor changes and improvements building up.

Remember, we're just starting out a new year and there's plenty of time to figure out what you want to achieve and your plan or next steps.  Good luck and happy 2016!

New Year's Resolution No. 2

This year I plan to complete the manuscript for my YA debut novel and also get two short stories published.  Ambitious?  Very.  Crazy?  Definitely.  Achievable?  That all depends on how much planning, hard work, and pure guts I'm willing to put into this year and beyond, all while holding down a full-time job and spending time with family and friends. 

To some of you this might seem altogether impossible.  The first thing that comes to mind is where one would find the time to achieve the amount of work involved in completing a manuscript and getting two short stories published.  You know what?  The problem is not finding the time.  I think my problem, and something a lot of us share and can relate to, is using the time we do have efficiently and not wasting it doing inane things such as online browsing for no real purpose or traipsing off for another cup of tea or coffee.

If you need to do some online shopping, go ahead but find what you're looking for pronto and submit your order - just get it done.  The same goes with updating yourself on news and other current affairs.  I am a bit of a news junkie so I understand this particular weakness very well.  Again, use a portion of your day to get some news in and then return to work.  I have started to get a little better with this by dedicating a small portion of my morning and evening time to catching up on the news but using the greater part of my day for actual work.

Perhaps I am in the midst of a positive hangover from the start of the new year but I look back on my life and, honestly, there have been so many times the difference between success and mediocrity/failure has been because I didn't put in the time and love into what I wanted to achieve.  It's not just simply about luck or timing or pre-existing circumstances.  A lot of it is really on you.  Your attitude and your state of mind first and foremost.

Everything starts with a dream or desire but we can solidify our goals by making plans and putting in the time and effort to get there. 

What you need to do now:

(1) Find your goals/dreams;

(2) Make your plans; and

(3) Start taking steps and put in the work to get there.

It's that simple but most of us don't get past step (1), let alone step (2).

Dare to dream, set your goals, make your plans, and start now.  Don't wait.