“The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to BECOME a runner.”

(James Clear, Atomic Habits)

In this week that just passed (training week 3 of 18), I also read the book above (and below).  It’s a great book for life in general, but I found so much in it that relates to running, training and plans I thought I’d dedicate this post to it.

ooooh your hair is beautifuuuuul!

Ooooh your habit’s beautifuuuuul!

First, a quick review of my week:

Ohio got a big old dump of snow at the start of the week.  I’m proud to say however, that in “Jackie vs. the snow”, I triumphed.  This triumph involved 10 miles literally running in and out of neighbourhood streets, sometimes several times, on the road (which had been cleared) at 5am, a threshold run that was so icy that if someone had played Bolero, I could have badly imitated Jane Torville (the slipping stuffed my pace a bit), a 14 mile long run circling a park and a couple of sneaky treadmill sessions.  But hey, ain’t no snow gonna be messin’ with my running habit.

40 miles vs the snow. I win.

40 miles vs the snow. I win.

And the week to come contains the following:

  • Medium Long: 10 miles (easy pace)
  • Long: 15 miles
  • Other: 10 x 100 strides

Weekly total:  42 miles

*It’s on.

And so, back to those habits:

My Weekly Inner Philosophical Debate:  I’ve got a run habit

I’ve been a runner pretty much for as long as I’ve been a grown up (whether I have yet become a grown up is possibly debatable), but chronologically that’s about 30 years.  It actually became a HABIT when I trained for the Columbus full marathon in 2017.  That, I think, was a pretty pivotal phase.  I mentioned in an earlier post about how the marathon plan made running decisions really easy and I think that was the catalyst for my addiction.  As per the opening quote, my “goal” was ultimately to run the marathon, but the “plan” was actually to run 850 miles, 5 days a week for 18 weeks.  Completing the “goal” itself would take me just under (yessss!) 4 hours.  The PROCESS or “plan”, however would take 150 hours of running, about 750 hours talking about it, 800 hours thinking about it and about 630 hours dreaming about it – it became a true habit.  *I know some people who read my blog will check the maths here, **I have my workings! 😉

I guess the point is, if you want a run habit, a marathon plan is not a bad way to get one.

Another thing James Clear talks about in Atomic Habits is the role of IDENTITY, how we see ourselves and how important it is to apply the right filters to that.  I see in running forums people often saying “I didn’t feel like a real runner”.  I think it’s easy to feel like that, but we can be more in control of how we see ourselves if we try hard enough.  If you run, you are a runner.  When I was at school, I saw my identity as being academic.  Whether I gave myself that label or others did, for me the implication was “not sporty”.  I think I accepted that for years and behaved that way accordingly.  Now, aged 47, I’m placing in  races, I’m winning things (albeit small trinkets), but now I see myself as fairly sporty actually.  I’m still a bit bookish but hey, sporty bookish.  That’s my filter now.  I truly believe who we are and who we want to be has to come from within.  It’s got to start there at least.

The book also has some great advice for making things habitual and ALL of them can be applied to running.  He describes habit creation as a 4 step process:

A CUE:  Make it obvious (For runners:  have a plan, set a time and a place for when you are going to run, have your stuff visible, put running IN YOUR FACE)

A CRAVING:  Make it attractive (Join a club or be around others where your desired behaviour is common, find your run tribe, get that FOMO)

A RESPONSE:  Make it easy (he recommends committing to something short and quick – “I’ll just do 3 miles”, once you’ve hit the road, you’ll almost certainly want to do more, run from your door, have your kit ready).

A REWARD:  Make it satisfying (I think for so many runners, social media and apps like Strava are great little rewards.  I know we aren’t supposed to admit it and craving “likes” etc. is supposed to be bad bla bla bla… but, a fellow runner, kudossing your run, or saying “good job” in a comment, well, that’s just nice right?  I like it anyway – and even without that, post run endorphins are rather nice too.



Some special personal thanks for my run week just gone:

  • To Kate and Nick for pushing me on my 4 mile LTP, (Me:  girlie scream, it’s slippereeeeee, Them:  Shut it. Run. *OK they weren’t like that, but, there was  no way they were letting me give up and that’s the kind of grit I need and love (shame that grit wasn’t also on the roads).
  • To Kathi, Alison, Jane, Wendy and Rebekah for the most awesome shift pattern of support for 14 miles, useful insights into the “American way” and some great laughs “THEY’RE NOT YOURS”, “Is your dog judging my running” 😉
  • To Diane Vanderbrink for the book reco’
  • *And finally, a shout out and special fix up wishes to my girl LeeAnn.  *Missed you.