Couch to 2K, to couch then 5K?

running-1944798_640The 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?







Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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