PositiI have a shelf full of running books – I don’t know why. All the basic information I need could be contained in one small volume. Nevertheless I enjoy reading them and each of has its own insights. They are a bit like cookbooks where some are a history of the food and culture of a region, whilst others are just lists of recipes but whatever the type of cookbook you tend to make only a few recipes from each book.
Cooking and running are both applied skills, so what you are ultimately looking for are instructions and practical tips you think you can apply. For example a tip that says the motivation for getting out on a cold winters night is the thought that competitors will be out there training, is meaningless for me as I am not good enough to think of racing other people. It stays on the page. However a simple statement saying it is important to train consistently and have goals is appropriate. It gives me a framework to examine what I do and think more clearly about it. (Both those tips were in a surprising good guide to getting fit for running in last Saturday’s Guardian, which also available online).
Sometime I think that what I need is a book of tips, small nuggets of advice that can be tried out and adopted if they work or tossed aside if they don’t - the equivalent of a book of aphorisms.
Perhaps I should collect some for this blog and make it a weekly feature. In which case, I will start with one from Andy Vernon (Runners World, November 2008, p67) who said that he had been advised, by sports psychologist Dave Alred, to keep a daily dairy in which to write three good things about his training and racing. At the end of the week he had to ask himself how he thought he had become a better runner in the past seven days. This made him more aware of his training, why he was doing it, and different types of improvement.
I think I could adapt this. It would not be daily but I could think of something good about each run and note it in my training dairy. I don’t think I could stretch to three good things but even on a bad day there must be at least be something. Also I like the idea of trying to recap the week and think of improvements. I never ask myself how I have improved (probably because I never think I have) but if I force myself to look I am sure I will be able find something. Surely there will be something – even if it is only a little thing. Finding it will help me be more positive (perhaps).