It’s easy to be discouraged when you only look at your progress over a short period of time. One bad session can make you feel like a month of hard work has been wasted. That’s why it’s important to look at your work over a longer period of time.
In the course of preparing for the half marathon I recently ran, there were training sessions that were better than others. And it was easy to let the bad sessions dominate my thoughts and diminish the value of the good days.
When I looked back over this year, two things were clear.
1. I’m running further and more often than ever before.
2. I’m getting faster, slowly but surely.
If I only looked at specific runs – which is what tends to happen as you consider your performance at the end of a run – then there would be lots of disappointment. There were plenty of days when I really just dragged my butt around the streets and where the hills almost defeated me.
But looking back now, I can see that I was making real progress, both in terms of training volume and speed.
When you think about your own progress, look at the data you’re collecting over a longer period than just a day or a week. Real progress is not a straight line. It goes up and down. But there are long term trends that you won’t be able to argue about that show your progress.
What’s clear to me is that before I get faster, I run further. My training has meant that I build volume before speed.
It’s like the stockmarket. If you have invested in stocks, looking at daily fluctuations can be very discouraging if you’re looking at long term investments. But if you look at the long term, the overall value of the stockmarket always grows – even when you take into account what economists call “corrections”.