This week we’re wrapping up our first 360 YOU program (don’t worry, we’ll be back with a new program next month!). Over three months, our participants started and completed a 5K training plan; learned about the basics of effort, cross-training, and the run-walk method; and received practical advice on nutrition from our 360 YOU mentors Mary Cain and Team Atalanta. But in designing the program, we wanted to go beyond running and provide life advice that would, yes, help you be a better runner, but also help you live a happier and healthier life beyond that. From identity and purpose to body image and community—we covered a lot.
Now that we’re closing out this chapter, you might be wondering what’s next? When you accomplish a goal, how and when do you begin to dream about the next one? To answer those questions we spoke with Team Atalanta’s coach Julia Lucas about transitioning from one goal to the next.
Start With Reflection
It’s important to reflect on what you are proud of after finishing a race, training program, or other goal you’ve set for yourself. “If you’re happy with your race, or if you’re not, it’s really similar advice—look back and say, ‘What am I proud of? What are the wins here? And what can I improve upon?'” says Lucas.
You’ll want to find that sweet spot in terms of reflection time. You don’t want to wait too long after the event has passed to where you no longer remember your feelings or the finer details. At the same time, your immediate emotions right after crossing the finish line could also cloud your judgment. “Anything that you think in the first five minutes, just disregard it,” says Lucas.
Within the same day or weekend, make sure to take the time reflect on the whole experience. Those reflections will come in handy to help you prepare better for the next race or the next workout. “Use every race as a building block for the next race,” says Lucas.
Make Use of Your Journal or Training Log
There’s nothing wrong with silently meditating on the experience or talking it through with a friend or coach, but you’ll get even more use if you find a moment to write your thoughts down. “Everything sticks better if you write it down,” says Lucas. Even just a few notes can go a long way in helping your remember the experience.
As Lucas notes, journaling helps you work through any surface emotions you have and get down to what you really think. “It’s always helpful to write through and see what comes out,” she says.
Whether it’s old fashioned pen and paper or just a note on your phone, there’s no wrong way to journal.
Celebrate Any Risks You Took
They wouldn’t really be goals if they didn’t involve taking a risk. Lucas calls those “the wonderful brave moments.” Whether your moment of bravery was signing up for a new and scary race distance or making a choice in a race to tap into another level of intensity, those risks help us improve as runners—no matter the outcome.
For Lucas as a coach, the results of the risk are really just feedback for her. It helps her understand where the runner is at and how they need to tweak their training for the next attempt or the next goal.
Make a Specific Plan For Change
In your reflection, for the moments that didn’t go so well, Lucas recommends that you make a specific action plan to improve for next time.
Try to specifically pinpoint the moments where you made a mistake or when the race went off the rails, without judgment. Was it when you blew past the hydration station at mile 17 when you really needed that fuel? Was it starting out your 5K way faster than your goal race pace? Or maybe it was finishing feeling like you had more to give and that you held yourself back.
Ideally, you can point to it very specifically. In turn, finding a specific action of change will give you a sense of ownership over the outcome of your next event.
On the flip side, those moments that you identify as not going great, might reveal something you did well, which is equally as important to recognize.
“That moment when you tried to go and it wasn’t there that day, those were still good instincts that you should trust,” Lucas says as an example. Sometimes the result is out of your control and it doesn’t mean you didn’t execute your plan well.
And finally, your reflection period is a great time to set the next goal, even if you don’t start working on it right away. Take the time off you need to celebrate, rest, and revel in your accomplishment. You’ll know when it’s time to get started on the next big thing.