4Performance coached athlete Nicky McGill shares her thoughts on being consistent in training.
One of the best parts of owning a running shop was having so much opportunity to talk about running. People from all different walks of life with varying goals and a vast array of experience would approach us for advice and guidance, as well as getting a shoe fitting or sourcing the latest bit of kit.
When people came in searching for the answer to improvement, I would talk to them about consistency.
It didn’t matter what their starting point was, whether they were a beginner or experienced runner or a three hour versus a ‘just wanting to get round’ marathoner. The key to running longer or faster or even on some occasions both is consistency.
It feels a bit phoney to write about rediscovering consistency for myself. After all, as a personal trainer and having owned a running shop for ten years, it’s almost engraved on my soul. I believe in the concept wholeheartedly. I’ve rattled on about it more than I care to mention, but since my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, had forgotten what consistency looked and felt like.
It’s been just under three weeks since I’ve been following a training plan under my coaches beady eye. A bit like PT Pete, Jon isn’t emotionally affected by the Fibromyalgia. He doesn’t judge it or accept ‘excuses’ (not that I’ve tried). I respect his experience and his fairness too much to play that card.
At the moment the whole point of the training is to instil habit via consistency. A message Jon has reiterated throughout our communications so far. It’s an important message to receive and gives me confidence that what I’m doing is worthwhile. He summed it up rather nicely the other day: ‘"All we want to achieve at the moment is routine… hit the session as best you can then before you know it, fitness, pace, power, strength, recovery and weight loss all follows".
The repeated message helps to reduce the barriers to achieving a consistent behaviour. Forgetting the ‘why’ for example or getting distracted in a session by combining it with other tasks. Cycling and shopping anyone? (Actually, I did that one and got a little rap on the knuckles for it).
I understand why. Training needs to be specific and focused. Unless I plan to go shopping in Lanza while cycling around the island, stopping to shop does not represent specific, focused training. Consistency also helps to stymie excuses; "the pool is too hot or the wind is too strong". There’s a reason why my triathlon group’s mantra is "just f**ing do it".
Consistency is important. It allows you the space to focus on what you want to achieve and more importantly it takes away the need for perfection. If you don’t hit your session today, well don’t worry- you’ll get another chance tomorrow.
It helps develop routine and builds momentum. It offers a way to measure. It generates accountability via reporting mechanisms, either to Jon directly or to friends via my Strava account or even to followers on Instagram- there’s always a training photo opportunity.
Consistency also offers reassurance. Against the fear of starting or inertia or the goal being too big, or too looming. After all, little steps are much easier than big steps, especially when you have a metaphorical hill in front of you that needs climbing.
I’ve surprised myself, that by taking the pressure off, I’ve been able to start every session I’ve been set. And if I start, my likelihood of hitting the session improves tremendously.
I’ve also surprised myself by enjoying the routine and discipline of consistency. I’ll still be singing its praises, but now with a little more understanding.