2020: A year that taught runners to rethink and refocus

Over the past year, we’ve all had to rethink our approach to running (amongst many other things) and the running community has overflowed with creative ideas to keep us focused and motivated. From personal challenges and virtual races, to local adventures and backyard ultras, we’ve witnessed the remarkable resourcefulness of runners.

More than ever, running (and physical activity in general) has been essential to keep us balanced, healthy and happy. And while in many ways we’ve been unable to train and exercise as usual, many of us have found novel and clever ways to overcome obstacles, adapt and turn challenges into opportunities. Embracing new thinking and new ways of doing things, and showing what we’re capable of.

Photo by ASICS

The rise of new running habits

There’s a lot to learn from the rise of the these new running habits and challenges. Here are some of the lessons we took from them.

From personal challenges and virtual races, to local adventures and backyard ultras, we’ve witnessed the remarkable resourcefulness of runners.

Make it personal

The absence of official and organised events doesn’t stop us from creating personal projects. We can plan them on our own terms (distance, type of terrain, day and time of our challenge, route, organisation, etc); this way solo projects are as stimulating and motivating as races with hundreds of other runners.

Treat it exactly as you’d treat an official event: training; preparation; route planning and timing, rest, fuel, warm-up; the main event. Pre-challenge nerves and hype guaranteed!

So, make it personal. Find the reason or cause to attempt a challenge that truly speaks to you or that will push your limits. Voluntary exposure is the best way to thrive.

A few Team Run4It members accomplished inspiring projects and challenges over the last year.

Gayle’s driveway marathon

Our very own Visual Merchandiser, Gayle, achieved a driveway marathon last April. She did 655 laps to complete the distance and managed to raise around £2,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK. With the support of her amazing family and neighbours, she moved past the different restrictions, adapted and achieved her goal (even though her marathon time was slower than originally planned).

Romain’s backyard ultra

Last May, I myself ran a backyard 100k ultra over a 4k loop near my flat. I trained for a few months without any races in sight and decided on the 100k run a week before. On the day, I set up a small aid station on my terrace with all the necessary nutrition and drinks and a sheet of paper to tick the 25 laps one after the other. Adventures really are on our doorstep! 

Mandy’s Goggins challenge

Over the first weekend in March 2021, Mandy, our Run4It Bridge of Allan shop manager took on the 4x4x48 David Goggins challenge running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. Completing 12 runs in total (including midnight and 4am runs), sticking with it, overcoming the stop/start nature, sleep deprivation and mind games to come out on the other side stronger!

Jason’s Deeside Way FKT

On Sunday 14 March 2021, Jason from Run4It Aberdeen set a new Deeside Way FKT, running the full 70km stretch from Ballater to Aberdeen at a sickening average pace of 4:04/km (6:32/mile), to arrive at Duthie Park gates in 4h 45m 46s! The result of months of relentless training, dedication and hard work – as well as good weather, strong legs and a support crew on the day!

And these are just a handful of examples illustrating the way runners’, world over, have been turning trials into triumph. 

Be here now – Stay in the present moment

“Even if your goal is on hold, you can still build the skills needed to achieve it.” They’re not just words, British pro pole-vaulter Harry Coppell proved everything is possible when you give yourself a chance: he broke the British pole vault record last September (clearing 5.85m) after more than 6 months without competitions.

We control and we can curate our environment to make it conducive to success.

Whatever happens, an injury or a cancelled race, we control and we can curate our environment to make it conducive to success. It’s up to us to put in, on a daily basis, the necessary work and effort to achieve our goal. Whether it’s building a more structured training plan or a makeshift home gym, becoming more careful about hydration pre and post runs or getting more sleep. We can flip our approach and focus on the process, not the outcome. Find happiness and motivation from our everyday training. We can have our eyes on the prize but we need to keep our head in the moment. 

Photo by ASICS

Then control what you can control, and assess what you can improve. This is how we can turn the unknown into something great and enjoy the process without necessarily knowing when and where is the finish line. 

Get unstuck – Move past obstacles to reach your goals

Most of the time, what keeps us blocked isn’t the obstacle itself but our perception of it. 

When facing challenges or difficulties, we often let them become our number one focus and let our emotions take control and fool us. When we believe in the obstacle more than in the goal, which will inevitably triumph?

In his book The Obstacle is the Way, author Ryan Holiday talks about the difference between perception and observation: “perceiving is always connected to your subjective emotions, so perception can deceit you. Observation is objective and keeps you in the here and now and shows you what is actually happening right now. Not what might happen in two days or somewhere else”.

In the past year, a lot of runners realised it was up to them to make a move and find new ways of training, racing to keep growing through the sports (despite all the restrictions and in the absence of races). They steadied themselves, controlled their emotions and chose to find fortune in this downturn. 

Photo by ASICS

If fear is holding you back from making a move, “try to observe and be honest with what is really going on. If you cut out all the self-made fear, most of the problems are not that hard to solve.” 

Curiosity fuels creativity and motivation

A lot of runners are looking for external inspiration as a way to influence and boost their confidence and creativity. To look at others achievements and stories is sometimes the proof we need to believe in our own abilities and take up a new challenge. 

Here we share some ideas to help you fuel your creativity, and that as a result can motivate you to take up solo projects or challenges: 

  • Books to inform and inspire you 
  • Examples of running challenges to keep you moving and motivated
  • Advice on goal setting