I believe opportunities for personal learning and development are everywhere, and they land for us when we’re ready. When I signed up to run a half-marathon I set clear goals, took advice, and followed a plan, however, the learning I gained through the experience gave me valuable insights that stretched much further than my planned intentions. I’ve shared my top three insights here.
1) There is no substitute for expert coaching and advice
Following a tailored plan created by someone with the right expertise was really helpful and an education on its own. I was given information about things like nutrition, increasing mileage and using speed form techniques so my training activity could be effective. I achieved a personal best. But I missed my target finish time. There were many on race day that smashed theirs. The harsh reality that I could have achieved much better performance if I’d had regular coaching and guidance whilst following the plan is something I’ll be investing in for the future.
2) Reflecting on experience can be very revealing
Reflecting after the event I discovered my ‘I can’t do this’ voice kicked in at around 60-70% completion. This was both in training (when I experienced injury) and on the day. Whilst I got past the unhelpful mind-set, it hindered my overall performance in the second half of the event and eroded the gains I’d made in the first. It’s useful data because now I can anticipate when a performance slump is likely and work to overcome it in training in the future. I can also look out for it when planning other challenges.
3) Too narrow a focus can be just as harmful as too little
I was so intent on doing well at running that I stopped my usual exercise routine. I now know this would have complemented my training. The results of solely focusing on my running meant I put undue strain on some muscles, whilst neglecting to train and strengthen supporting muscles. A great analogy that shows early and consistent investment in support areas is essential in achieving a desired outcome.
Whilst quality, informed plans, discipline and reflecting on experience are essential building blocks for personal development, better results are possible when they are implemented with specialist advice, guidance and support along the way.
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