Habituating running…and running a marathon in 4 weeks

Often we read these incredible stories about runners who’ve committed to extraordinary goals.

Sometimes it’s pretty clear that on occaion they would have been better advised not to do it at all, you’ve proably come across people who are contemplating their first ever race with little to no trainng.

It reminds me of my training over the last decade running and racing mountain ultras, often I would meet people in the hills who asked my advice on the route to a certain peak.

Was that a bad thing necessarily?

To me it wasn’t – because they were actually asking for advice or help, rather than taking a risk without information to help. They proactively took action to increase their chances of reaching the summit.

Then it was down to me, I needed to make multiple decisions based on whether I thought they were in a good place to reach the summit, based upon their perceived ability, what the forecast weather conditions indicated and their navigational skills, amognst others.

Obviously, for most of these factors I wouldn’t have much of an indication, their navigational skill level for example – so I’d ask questions, get feedback and add that to my risk and decision making thought process.

So, how does this relate to a four week marathon, or whatever the challenging running goal might be?

Firstly, I am not advocating anyone tries to train for 4 weeks prior to a marathon, but you get what I’m driving at.

Often we hear about people who are aiming for something challenging, and with a lack of knowledge in a key area could be putting themselves in harms way.

What’s the best response?

Well on social media I always think it’s about being nice, if we were sitting in a coffee shop with them, how would we talk them through it?

Interstingly, this is exactly where habituation comes in.

You see, the 4 week marathon example is an extreme.

It’s unlikely, even with determination and strong commitment you’ll do anything other than achieve injury and fatigue.

But if we approached habitituation in a different, more measured and realistic way, we can set up habits that help, that set positivity into our training and that help us understand what we are capable of.

What do I mean?

Well, take those same 4 weeks, and instead work on a short, easy run to the end of your road, or to a particlular point that you can run too that’s easy enough for you.

If you’re an experienced runner, then the task might be a little more challenging, but it does need to be achieveable, otherwise commitment and motivation start to drop.

This is the power of habituation, the setting up of a system that really builds a positive result, and catapults you into a more positive way of thinking about your running.

Run with passion, Geoff.


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