Beyond the Finish Line:

Running and Living with Purpose

The NC500 Guide to Life

Day 6

Cut Yourself Some Slack – Be Kind To Yourself

Day 6

Cut Yourself Some Slack – Be Kind To Yourself

 One of the fundamental principles of achieving any goal is to break it down into smaller steps, focusing on the next step in a linear fashion until larger milestones or completion is achieved.

At times when you find things easy, this method may not be as necessary, and the rungs on the step ladder can be much further apart, on these days we often have a greater sense of our own capability of making good progress.

But on the days when we’re struggling, then breaking down the target into micro steps is a fundamental principle of maintaining momentum.

This was the case on the NC 500 run when I was struggling with the distance, pain, the weather, just about everything.

When to run and when to walk was a constant battle but was largely determined by the terrain, in principle I walked up every hill and ran down every hill, the problem much more complex on the flat parts.

My mind told me that I should be running on the flats, but my body often argued that point well enough to make me stop and walk.

These are the times when the internal conversations were exhausting.

“You should be running”

“But I’m fucked, I don’t wanna run”

“Just run for a little bit”

“Nope I’m not doing it”

“You’re finish time will be far later if you don’t run”

“I don’t care”

“Yeah I do care”

“Come on, let’s run”

“OK let’s run”

At these times I gave myself visual markers to get to, the obvious one if I could see a hill in the distance I would say to myself just run to the base of the hill and pick a visual marker as that point and then I can walk from there.

If there was a long section of flat road I would say run to the sign and then walk, or run to the tree and then walk, the important thing here was that there were times when I would get to the marker and still feel I could continue to run, but the deal was done and was that I was to walk when I got to that point, so i made sure that i gave myself the reward that was due to me.

This is the fundamental basis of effort/achievement and reward.

The importance of rewards after achievements is fundamental to human motivation and behaviour.

Rewards play a crucial role in increasing the likelihood of repeated success.

Without the reward, the likelihood is, we will lose motivation and change our behaviour.

This was the same with food and drink throughout the challenge.

I remember speaking to Walter Hill, a revered running coach, who himself still holds a 50-mile road run record, over 20 years after setting it.

He said “along the way if you feel like fish and chips and you have the opportunity to have some, then have some, and if at the end of the day you feel like a beer, even though it may not be the best preparation for long distance endurance events, have that beer, because those little rewards are your wins for achieving what you’ve done”.

“They will lift your spirits, they will be the moments that you enjoy the most”

And he was right.

Those moments were amazing.

Those small, simple actions that rewarded me for the effort that preceded them made them all the more pleasurable.

One of the most special of these was fish and chips from a van mid way through day 4, I was hungry and tired and out of no where appeared this van selling food, as I sat on a rock in the sun eating this I was in heaven, simply amazing.

That’s not to say that we can reward, reward, and reward without the prior effort and achievement, this relationship must run in sequence, the reward comes after the effort.

But the principle of being kind to yourself, especially at times when you need that kindness is an important one.

Self-compassion has been linked to better mental health outcomes. When you are kind to yourself, you are less likely to engage in self-criticism and negative self-talk, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Like most things, self-compassion improves with practise. The more you do it the better you become at it, and the more it serves you.

So set your goals, because these are a driver of focus and increased performance, but break them down into smaller micro goals and celebrate achievements of these smaller steps with a reward.

Kindness Within = Strength Throughout

Be the best version of you

Your journey to a brighter future starts here

Let’s do it!

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