Knowing when to listen and who to listen to

Whenever you start anything new you will find many different people who want to help and give you advice. There will be training plans, dietary advice and lots of different suggestions on what you can do.

My advice is to take a lot of it with a pinch of salt. What works for one person may not work for you. Whilst we are physiologically pretty much the same, we all have our own individualities that make us fundamentally different.

I went to a gym some time ago and a very healthy living instructor was determined to get me having miso soup regularly. Whilst undeniably that was going to be a lot healthier than the McDonald’s breakfast I preferred at the time, it was too much of a leap from one extreme to the other.

Small steps and small ventures outside of a comfort zone are going to see bigger returns than massive culture and lifestyle changes that could propel you backwards and zap any confidence you’ve built so far.

In my training over the last sixteen months, I’ve heard many different people saying I should do this or that. I’ve done some of them. I’ve not done some others. Only you know your own circumstances.

Injuries can hit anyone, from top elite athletes to folk starting out on their first run. The top athletes have people around them to look after them with science based rehabilitation, but the average Joe and Jo Bloggs on the street doesn’t have that.

What they do have access to is common sense which to me is essential for initial care of yourself and for ongoing maintenance. I must clarify at this point that even looking after yourself perfectly does NOT make you invincible and a degree of luck / bad luck is involved not personal invincibility!

Below are a few tips that I’ve learnt over the last year or so, and as I said earlier these are what work for me, take them with the aforementioned pinch of salt, tweak them to your own situation and merge some views together if need be and work out what’s best for you.

You know your body best of all, you know what is comfortable, what is unbearable, etc.. Learn more about how your body works and why things hurt / ache and the benefits of water and recovery time.

What you eat and drink has a direct link to what performance your body produces. No one should tell you to cut everything out that you enjoy. No one should tell you to jump straight from McDonald’s breakfasts daily to misu soup. Small tweaks and little steps forwards.

Keep a record of what you do, what you run, how frequently, and what you intake. You can analyse how you are performing, identify any small changes you WANT to make, and can spot where you may want to challenge yourself.

Challenge yourself for one or two things each month. Whether it is cut out or cut back one food such as pizza, bacon butties, or alcohol – see how you go for a whole month, then reward yourself for the resolve. You could challenge yourself to run x times a week or month too or to run so many miles, see if you can build up that resolve.

I personally find that by reviewing what I’m doing, planning what is possible and do-able, and challenging myself over short spells works for me. Why not see if you could give that a try?

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