As 2018 drew to a close the First Intuition team were asked to come up with their goals for 2019. I decided that I would come up with something that I would find really challenging, this was for two reasons;
Firstly, because Goals should be challenging, right? What is the point in setting something easy that doesn’t take any effort, where is the incentive to improve or do something really amazing?
Secondly because I knew my students would be seeing the goal that I set. They have all set massive goals that are incredibly difficult to achieve (becoming a qualified accountant takes huge amounts of hard work and dedication) so what kind of example would I be setting for them if I chose something trivially easy.
I thought long and hard about what goal I should set. I looked at what had happened over 2018; I had attempted the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October and got around the course in about 2 hours 20 minutes. Since then I had been very lazy and had over-indulged over the Christmas period. I was unfit and overweight (pushing 16 stone) and I made my mind up:
“In 2019 I will run a half marathon in less than two hours”
This was then posted on our social media outlets and there were many congratulations and good luck messages sent to me, but I knew that I hadn’t achieved anything yet! I hadn’t even begun. I had to think about how I would train:
How to train:
As I tell my students, you don’t pass a tax exam by reading a book about tax, you actually have to practice calculating tax again and again and again…. it is only by a process of repeatedly using the same techniques can you master the art!
I felt the same about my running challenge. If I wanted to beat my target, I couldn’t do it half-heartedly. I couldn’t do it by reading about running. I couldn’t do it by spending weeks coming up with a beautifully colour coded running plan. If I wanted to do this, I had to get my trainers on and start running as often as I could.
When to train:
The next challenge to consider was when was I going to fit my training in? I work during the week and quite often at the weekend and evenings. I have a family and don’t want to miss out on time with them. But again, I thought of my students, they work full time. They have social lives and families and yet they can find time to study and prepare for their exams, so I must be able to find time to do my training. Again, I thought how would it look to all of those students who I expect to make sacrifices to be successful if I am not prepared to do the same?
So I looked at what a “normal” day looks like for me:
- 6.30AM – Kids are awake and looking for breakfast (don’t want to miss that time with the kids)
- 7.00AM – Getting showered, shaved, dressed (can’t miss that)
- 7.30AM – Make sure kids are ready for school
- 8.00AM – Leave for work (have to drive to work for 30 minutes)
- 8.30AM – Arrive at work (can’t miss this)
- 5PM – Leave work (again have to drive)
- 5.30PM – See the kids, homework, games, bedtime stories etc (can’t miss this)
- 7.30PM – Kids should be in bed! So, time to eat with my wife (don’t want to miss this)
- 8.30PM – Relax with my wife (maybe some TV then off to bed)
Quite often I lose a chunk of the evening as I am working (or my wife is working)
So, when could I fit in training? I then though “how about before anyone else wakes up? What if I set my alarm for 5AM, then I can be running by 5.30AM and back in time for breakfast?”
It was decided – I set my alarm for 5AM!
The alarm went off and woke me up, the last thing I wanted to do was get up let alone go for a run! But I dragged myself out of bed, pulled on my kit and went downstairs. I opened the door to be met by a freezing wind and no daylight whatsoever. I switched on my head-torch and headed into the darkness just over half an hour later I got back to the house, utterly shattered but I had made the first step.
Now I know a lot of people say that the first step is always the most difficult and “it gets easier after a while” well that just isn’t the case with 5.30 AM running. Every morning was a challenge to get up and run. Facing the snow and rain and hail is not something that is ever easy at that time in the morning. But I did think about what my students do practising for an Audit exam, does it every get more enjoyable over time? Don’t they need to “dig deep” to get their studying done.? I am sure that getting an extra hour in bed would feel a lot better than one more set of questions to practice.
I kept a record of my runs on Strava (feel free to follow) I could see the miles adding up as the weeks went by. I could see the total amount of time that I had been running for:
– At the end of week one I had run for 2hr 21 mins and covered 12.5 miles
– Then 2hr 58 mins covering 17.6 miles in week 2
– By this Friday (22nd March) I had covered just under 300 miles and had been running for just over 46 hours!
That is a lot of running! I was struck by how much each weeks running had added up to, just imagine how much better you could perform in your exams if you could have 46 extra hours of study, just by waking up earlier to get half an hours extra study done before the rest of the world wakes up?
The First Half Marathon – Colchester 24th March
This weekend I made the first attempt at hitting my goal. I knew that it was possible, my training runs were at a decent pace. I had run the distance so knew I could complete the race. But could I put it all together on the day?
The simple answer was no! I arrived early (like I would for an exam). I felt good on the start line the minutes counted down to 9AM and we were away! The first couple of miles were slightly downhill and I felt good, I felt strong, I felt fast. I kept checking my time and it was quick I had over a minute in hand. I then hit the first hill and I attacked it, passing the slower runners who were labouring on the climb. By mile 3 I had nearly 2 minutes in hand and was still feeling good. Mile 4 and 5 were starting to feel hard, but mile 6 really hurt. I looked at my watch and my time was ok. I had lost some of the time I had in hand, but my time to complete 10KM was really good (the quickest I had run for 2 years I later found out).
Then everything went wrong, running was becoming more and more difficult, it was tough just to keep going, people kept passing me. Each runner that went past seemed to drag me back making me slower and slower. The sight of first Buzz Lightyear and then Batman running past me made me feel sick! A lady running in a full wedding dress overtook me with absolute ease and all the time I was running slower and slower. The time I had in hand slipped away and I was missing my target by more and more time. Eventually I collapsed over the line more than 10 minutes slower that I had hoped.
I was gutted! Really disappointed. I felt I had let myself down I had run so much better in training and I really felt I could have achieved my goal. But again, I thought of my students what would I say to them if they had failed an exam:
Where you well enough prepared? I wasn’t, I had trained but everything had to be perfect on the day (and it wasn’t) I was the student that got exactly the pass mark in a mock exam, it was possible on the day but could easily go against me (and it did)
What happened on the day? I got it all wrong I ran off too fast and it came back to bite me. I got to excited about my early speed and I couldn’t keep it up. I was the student who saw the first question in the exam knew I could nail it and spent too long on it, then didn’t have enough time to complete the rest of the exam. Poor race technique came back to get me!
The most importantly what are you going to do next????????
Next steps are so important. I always say “Failing doesn’t matter, what you do afterwards does”
So, what do I do next?
First, I have to keep training. I know my pace has improved over the first three months of this year and it will continue to improve the more I train.
Second, I have to improve my race technique, this means not going off to fast. I need to make sure I pace every mile correctly, don’t focus on running the first part fast because I know it will cost me. I can only do this with practice. I have to prepare by running at a consistent pace for long periods of time.
Yesterday was the time to feel sorry for myself, now I have to get on with it. I have the Royal Parks Half marathon in October. I will make that one in under two hours!
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