There’s many things I could have written about here in the past few weeks but as always life seems to find a way of getting in the plans that I make. Life took a big change on Monday, as it did for many people, but the more I think about it, the more I can’t help feeling that (for now at least) whilst it has changed life, it hasn’t really changed my plans.
Since coming back from injury, I set myself the initial target of achieving a 5K sub 20 minute time by the end of March. I had my sights set on the Leeds 5K Race series which happens once a month and thought the end of March (March 25th to be precise) would be the perfect time to do this. In the meantime I took part in a couple of parkruns as part of my running club parkrun league. On neither occasion did I expect to get anywhere near a sub 20 minute time, but on both occasions I ended up with the exact same time of 20:07. Though not quite the sub 20 time I was aiming for I was happy that I had got so near. Then I began to wonder to myself, if I had achieved a time of under 20 minutes, would it count? When I run a parkrun I do so with the determination to do so as fast as I possibly can and to finish it in front of as many people as possible. However, that’s just my choice and I know that the parkrun organisers and many parkrunners don’t consider it a “race” as such. In which case I’m not sure if achieving my desired time in a parkrun would constitute the achievement I wanted it to.
Then a couple of weeks ago, as races started being cancelled everywhere my social media feed was full of people understandably upset that their planned upcoming races had been cancelled. Personally, from day one I thought this was the right approach and am glad that those people who initially seemed to consider themselves victims of the corona virus situation have since come to realise that nothing could be further from the truth and that to prevent more genuine victims, this sort of decisive action needed taking. However, I was quite surprised to see a number of people commenting on how because the race no longer existed, neither did their motivation. If they didn’t have a race on the horizon, then what were they running for?
I could write an essay about this viewpoint and how I think it’s completely the wrong approach to take. I will instead just suggest that anyone who wants to read more about the topic of motivation would be better off reading The Passion Paradox by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. It’s a great read and anything I write on here is likely to be either intentionally or unconsciously a version of the main viewpoints put forward in it.
This then led me to question my view about my parkrun efforts or any future efforts which might not be part of an official race. Achieving a time or a distance is still achieving a time or a distance regardless of the setting. If I run 5k in less than 20 minutes then I’ve set out exactly what I intended to. Whether or not I do it on a specific course at a specific time and on a specific pre-arranged date shouldn’t make any difference to whether or not I should consider my efforts a success or not. I won’t be wearing Vaporflys, won’t have a team of pacers also acting as drafters for me and won’t have a laser guiding pacing car leading the way for me so there can be no question about whether or not I’ve achieved what I want to. As I’m writing this it’s March 28th which means I have another 3 days to achieve my target. Hopefully I’ll be writing on here again in a few days time, smugly congratulating myself for running 50 times around the local sports centre car park (or a similarly deserted and flat space) in less than 20 minutes.