Look Back to Move Forward

It’s not uncommon, when you’re training for an ultramarathon or some other kind of Sport Walking challenge, to get stuck in a bit of a rut. It can feel like you’re just doing the same thing over and over or maybe you don’t think you’re making the same kind of progress as you did before.

We can be talking about months of training for a big challenge, so finding a way to stay motivated and to feel like all the work you’re doing is worthwhile is really important. If you’re not in a good place in terms of your motivation, you’ll find it harder to achieve the gains that will make the challenge come easier to you.

One of the really valuable things you can do to keep your motivation high and to get you back on track if you’ve begun to feel like you’re struggling, is to look back at what you’ve achieved so far.

It’s all too easy just to be focused on what lies ahead – your overall goal, the training you need to do, the preparations you need to make – and this means that you’re assessing your progress by how much you have left to do, how you feel about what is yet to happen, rather than what you’ve already done. It’s really surprising how easy it is to get caught out like this.

When you look back on the work you’ve done in the past (and not necessarily during your current training block), you start to realise the compound gains you’ve made in training. You take greater notice of how all the sessions you’ve done contribute to your overall progress. You have a sense of the time that has passed and this too helps you realise how much progress you have already made.

You want to take note of improvements in your speed and pace from a previous point in time, you want to look back on any challenges you’ve taken on in the past and remind yourself of your achievements and, generally, you want to soak up all the good stuff. But you don’t want to keep stopping and looking back like this all the time, as that would just be like flipping the problem back the other way!  

We’re looking for balance here and, on the whole, the main emphasis does want to be on what you’re doing and where you’re going. So it’s best to save these reflective moments for those times when you really need them. 

So much of being a Sport Walker and especially taking on ultramarathon challenges is about mental toughness and resilience but this doesn’t mean that you should think you need to be invincible. Challenges come at us all the time and in all sorts of different ways and the challenge of feeling like you’re not making the progress you need to is just another one.

But just as mental toughness and resilience in the challenge itself is about the way you adapt to the difficulties that occur, rather than thinking you can prevent them from happening, it’s the same with training doubts.

You shouldn’t think you can avoid periods of self doubt but instead, you should work to cultivate a positive attitude to tackling them. Reflecting on your achievements to date, is a great way to build your defences and strengthen your self belief.

So the next time you’re uncertain about your abilities, turn round and look back, it’ll help you move forward.

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