The path to success is seldom a straight line. My struggles with improving my personal fitness go to prove this.
For several years, I had set a target at the start of each year to try and get fitter or at least to engage in some sort of fitness activity. Sadly, each year I have ended up prioritizing this target as low and therefore failed to make much progress against it. I completed courses, read books, completed projects, but neglected the health and fitness aspect of my well-being. I either couldn’t find the time, couldn’t find an appropriate fitness activity, couldn’t establish a habit or routine or one of a number of other excuses which all sounded plausible and valid to me at the time.
This year I made progress. I started the couch to 5K programme and for 5 weeks made good progress. It was becoming increasingly difficult each week as I had to run for longer periods of time however I had built a habit of getting up for my run each morning before work. I was experiencing some mild aches in my legs but this wasn’t stopping me. I simply put this down to the strain of the increasing distances. I was motivated, and I could see the progress I was making. Each week I was running further and further. All was going well towards achieving a 5K run.
Then I had a family holiday and took two weeks out. On my return I decided to jump in at week 4 of the programme, stepping back a week as I thought this would be sufficient to build up the habit again. I found it difficult to restart my habit of morning runs but I managed it. After only a couple of runs I started to have painful aches in the left leg in particular. I gave myself a couple of extra rest days to see if this would help. It didn’t. I then tried to work through the aches and pains and this didn’t help either.
I eventually settled with a couple of weeks of rest and decided to go all the way back to week 1 of the programme, which brings us up to this week. On Monday I wanted to start but made the excuse that it was a bank holiday. Tuesday wasn’t any good; I cant quite remember what my excuse was, possibly that the first day back after a bank holiday deserved a lie in. Finally on Wednesday after a significant internal struggle in getting out of bed, I did week 1 run 1 again. Now, I just need to establish the habit.
As I reflect I can see decisions which impacted my progress, some right decisions and some where in retrospect I may have been wrong. I can see that motivation has been key. In the first 5 weeks I could see my increasing fitness level in the increasing times spent running. This obvious progress kept my motivation up which helped in maintaining my habit. When I stopped however and when I then had difficulties restarting the progress wasn’t there. I was running distances less than I had previously managed but having pain in doing so. It was demotivating and as a result made sustaining the habit difficult. Trying to get going again was difficult and I must admit to being close this morning to not going for a run, to in effect give up on the whole endeavour.
I have now taken my first step to restarting. The motivation and habit isn’t there so I will need to rely on my resilience and perseverance. I suspect this will mean, each morning for the foreseeable future, I will need to fight to get myself out of bed and running rather than having an extra 30mins in bed. Hopefully in five weeks time I will be back to the same stage I had previously achieved and that I can then go beyond to my eventual goal of 5K.
I wonder how my experiences might be mirrored in student learning? How do we as teachers help to ensure they remain motivated and develop resilience?