I was that girl who loved bright and colourful stationery. The shops would sell brown paper covers for school books but I always chose the brightest paper and folders I could find. Remember those pretty letter and envelope sets? I’d always get several for Christmas and there was nothing I loved more. Even today, I won’t be caught dead with a formal business diary. I think it used to embarrass my boss when I’d whip out my bright (often flowery) planners in client meetings but now I think he looks forward to seeing what new look I’ve chosen for the year. I must have been about 10 when I started writing down goals. I’d sit with my sister on New Year’s Eve and write down all the things I’d want to do in the new year. We’d then discuss our goals as our mum slept on the arm chair in front of the telly and my dad was long tucked in bed.
But back to my question. Is it foolish to plan for 2021? Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment? No. I’m a strong believer that goals help to guide us. I know there are people who don’t believe in goal-setting but for me personally, if I don’t have a goal to work towards, I lack direction and spend too much time in limbo, at least it feels that way. Goals keep me showing up and pushing myself to be and do more. Do I fail? Ha! More times than I’d like to count! But then I vow to start again on Monday. And if it means starting again for 52 Mondays, so be it. At least it gets me closer and closer to where I want to be.
When we had our first lockdown in April, I thought we’d be back to normal after a few months. Didn’t most of us? So I told myself that all my 2020 goals would simply be copied and pasted to 2021. Well… given we are still in a pandemic that won’t quite be possible. But let’s see – this is what I’ve been brave enough to put on paper, yes in a pretty and colourful planner.
Goals For 2021
1: Continue with my #40By40 List: There are still things on this list which are within reach. Not easy, but possible in our current situation – run 1km in 5 minutes and a mile in 8 minutes, join the Sports Bra Squad, complete a 40 Push-Up Challenge and hold a 40 second Pilates teaser, among others. So I’m going to continue working hard on those and save the big races for later.
2: Focus On Health and Strength: This is so important to me that I’ve made ‘Health and Strength’ my OFFICIAL chosen phrase for 2021. If you’re a regular reader you know I keep saying I will eat better and do more strength work and although I make some effort on the eating front, I just can’t seem to be bothered with strength work! Seriously, tell me to run 20K and I will start planning the route. Tell me to do a 10-minute strength routine and suddenly I’m too tired or the pantry needs decluttering. But this year, I commit to:
- Strength-train twice a week for 20 – 30 minutes at a time.
- Be proactive about my health. ‘Health’ is quite broad but in this context it covers two main areas, firstly, Improve My Eating Habits (less chocolate and snacking which are my Achilles’ heel and be more conscious about healthy eating). Secondly, Each Month Go For a Specific Health-Related Check, e.g. breast exam one month, dentist the next, etc.)
3: Host the #9×9 Spring Challenge: Last year I came up with the 9 x 9 Spring Challenge – run 9km a day for 9 consecutive days with a splash of colour to celebrate Spring. I’d love to do it again with more runners, maybe some prizes and who knows, even some medals! September is also Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month so I want the challenge to be more than just a celebration of spring but also a platform to encourage women to learn more about gynaecological cancers, including early detection, signs/symptoms and support available when diagnosed. Had this not affected my family, I would still be in the dark about a lot of it.
4: Run 2021 km in 2021: Without any guarantee of races this year, I thought setting a mileage goal would be more realistic. You know I’m all about how things sound right, hence 2021km! But this seems quite steep given my highest mileage (achieved in 2020) was just shy of 1700km. Hhmm. 300km more? You know I love an ‘impossible’ challenge, so bring it on! LOL!
What About Addo?
With the race on the 7th March 2021, I started training for the Addo Elephant Trail Run with Coach Marcel on 1st November. According to its website, the courses (100 Mile, 76km or 44km) “take runners through some of the most remote wilderness in the Addo Elephant National Park, through areas they would not be able to access any other way.” This will be my first ultra-marathon (yes, 44km still counts as an ultra!). I’m not sure if I ever wrote about how I got this entry? At the Gauteng Trail Clinic in 2019, I entered a draw where the prize was a free entry to Addo. I didn’t win. But when we got home, the woman who had won contacted me and said she would love to give her entry to me. I was incredibly touched by her kind gesture and equally terrified… but I found myself saying yes! This is such a wonderful opportunity and if 2020 taught me anything it’s to step outside my comfort zone.
After a very easy October, I eased into training with 137.4km in November with my longest run being 16km. I had some calf niggles mid-month which slowed things down a bit. But a few days rest seemed to do the trick and in December I clocked 208.2km (including three 20km long runs). Although I followed the plan quite well (80 – 90%), my runs were a lot slower than usual. I was sluggish, not enthusiastic and generally lacking in energy. I’m pleased I showed up for most runs and the mileage speaks for itself. But I was starting to get frustrated at myself and running in general. However, as a much-needed boost to my confidence, my first run in 2021 felt great, like really great. Despite it being a 20K, I was strong, energised and above all HAPPY. I’m hoping my lacklustre running was down to it being the end of a tough year. I needed this happy run.
But Will The Race Take Place?
The race is two months away. It’s in South Africa which is currently in a higher level of lockdown than previous months. In Botswana, we are not in a lockdown (yet) but we are under a curfew (no movement between 8pm and 4am) that’s expected to last until 31st January. Will the situation be worse or better in March? Will the race even take place? And if it does, will I feel safe (or responsible) travelling to a higher risk country to participate in a race? I don’t know. But what I do know is that training will continue as planned. With my renewed energy, I’m hoping the next two months go better than the first two. I want to be as physically and mentally prepared as I can be. But I also know there’s a possibility it might not happen and I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I get there. See? 2020 taught me plenty!
What are you looking forward to in 2021? Any new challenges? Do you anticipate a return to “normal”? Or more of the same?
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running. Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.