Many runners spend time during their run just thinking. I’m sure topics in their heads range from their to-do list when their run is over to day dreaming about taking a nap to what it would be like if trees had legs and could move around. I spend a lot of time just thinking about myself and my goals.
Throughout my college career, as I made my way to becoming a teacher, one thing that every and all my professors stressed to me and my classmates was the importance of reflecting. Reflect on what you are teaching. Reflect on how you are teaching. Reflect on how you handle disruptive behavior. Reflect on how you think your students are learning. Reflection on these topics can help improve your teaching because it causes you to think critically of what you are doing and how you can do it better.
As a teacher I know that one of my strengths is reflecting. I am constantly criticizing my lessons and my delivery of content. I am my biggest critic and I consider myself to be extremely hard on myself. If a lesson doesn’t work the way I thought it should, I change it immediately for the next class. I am constantly trying to make myself a better teacher.
My natural need to reflect on what I am doing has rolled over from my teaching career to my running career. I find myself often thinking about how I can improve my health and fitness. A lot of my thoughts are centered around running. How can I improve my current running routines? Should I try some different routes? What else can I do to help motivate myself to train hard? All of this is because want to become a better athlete.
Some of the questions I find myself asking a lot, especially during training, is “Am I training like I know I should be?” or “Am I putting in the effort and doing all the things I am supposed to be doing in order to improve?” Those might seem vague but to me they can be motivating factors. When I am supposed to be cross training on Saturdays but instead, I skip the workout (because I despise cross training), I know I am not putting in the effort and I am not training like I know I should be. When I snooze my alarm clock and tell myself, “I’ll just run after school instead,” I know I’m not training like I should be. These are the times when I might need to find new motivation in order to renew my enthusiasm for training.
That being said, this week has been deemed an “Off Week” for me from running as I recover from the half marathon. Next week will begin a two week period of “fun runs” before my training begins again for the Griffith Park Half Marathon in Los Angeles. Always being critical of myself, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my progress since June and brainstorming ways that I can continue this improvement when I begin the process of training again next month. The essential questions I’ve been asking:
- What are my goals for the upcoming half marathon?
- My goals for the upcoming half marathon in January is to beat my previous two times of 2:20:32 and 2:10:56. I also want to run the entire race without having to walk any part of it.
- What is my motivation for this half?
- I am running this half with my brother and his girlfriend. I would like to be able to keep up with them as I am almost positive that they have a faster pace than I do currently. My other motivation is that this is going to be checking off a small portion of my overall running goal to run a race in every state!
- What can I change about my training for this half that I may not have done for the last half?
- I know that I need to stick to my training plan more so than I have been. That means I need to do the cross training and take it seriously, no matter how much it pains me to be on a stationary bike or elliptical.
- I also need to change my eating habits. If I can eat a healthier diet than I currently am, my body will feel better and I will sleep better which would help me get up on mornings when I am running before school.
- I would like to implement more routes as I train because I get bored of the same ones which has caused disinterest in running.
- Along with Lori, I should try to find some other training buddies. Perhaps motivating other people to run will motivate me to run.
- Now that volleyball season is coming to a close, I will have time to do some training after school and should take advantage of that some days.
There are a lot of other aspects of my running and training that I know I need to change (like my shoes) but the list above can give you a general view as to how I reflect. Taking the time to reflect on any part of your life can help you find clarity and direction and can renew your enthusiasm for it, it doesn’t have to be running, fitness, or teaching. It can be about anything. You just have to ask yourself, “What am I doing and what do I want to be doing?”, “What changes do I want to make?”, and “How can I make those changes?”.
Perhaps after reading this, some runners who may not have done it before will begin reflecting on how to improve while or after they run. That’s great. But for those of you who would still prefer to think about you to-do lists and walking trees, that’s not a bad way to spend your time running either.