I’ve started running again.  Regularly.  I can say this publicly now as I started before Christmas and I’m still doing it. It’s not a New Year resolution and in fact, I’m up to twice a week.   Not bad for a 52 year old, not-very- fit mum of two.

Why should you care about this?  Well, I only mention it because I’m undoing an old habit (no exercise) and establishing a new one (some exercise).  Very slowly.  And I thought you might be interested in how I’m doing.

I’ve taken small steps and not made too much of a big thing about it.  The point is, I’m working to create this new habit in a way that’s easy for me to maintain.  Which, in time, will lead to success.

What I’ve found previously is that I’ve set myself up to fail by making my goals so big, or the changes so huge that I couldn’t help but not achieve them. Does this sound familiar?

Not this time though.  This time, I set out with a different mind-set.  My thinking was all about needing to release stress and to get healthier. It wasn’t about doing as much as possible in a short a space of time.  Or losing weight by doing loads of exercise.

What’s happened in the past is this:  usually I go a bit mad.  I do exercise like a whirling dervish 10 days out of seven (yes, you read that correctly) and then end up being so exhausted, I do nothing at all. Ever again.  For six months.  How pointless is that?

I am not a gym bunny.  No matter how often I re-join my local gym, I just don’t go.  And what I realised was, as a home worker, I need to be around people. Going to the gym or even a class wasn’t helping me to stop feeling lonely or isolated.

Then I bumped into my friend Mandy.  What a fantastic moment that was.  “Come running with my running group.”  She said enthusiastically.  “Mmmm,” I mumbled, shuffling away trying to think of reasons not to do it.

But then a few weeks before Christmas, I found myself running round some bollards in a boggy field warming up for my first run in ….errrrr…let’s just say it was a while, shall we?

What I loved about the experience was a) it was outdoors, b) I was meeting people and c) I had a running coach.

The running coach Helen was encouraging but also realistic.  She knew I wanted to get fitter, but trying to do a 5km Park Run every week, with no training in between, wasn’t really getting me anywhere.  And she was right.

She actively discouraged me from going back to Park Run for the time being. “Let’s get you running for 30 minutes straight before you go back to that,” she suggested.  What a relief!  I had permission from her to NOT do something, and thus I gave myself permission not to do it either. Happy days.

My experience is similar to that which clients have when they have a personal or executive coaching programme with me. I help you identify the habit(s) you want to change, work out a time frame for changing it/them, then support you to identify how you might sabotage yourself so that you fail to achieve your goal. We work together to work out how you will recognise the self-sabotage, and develop strategies for overcoming the self-sabotage voice. So, in my case, I sabotage myself by doing too much, too soon, too fast.  And then stopping altogether.

This time it’s different.  I’m listening carefully, not only to my coach, but my body.  I’m being kinder to myself and as a result I’m really enjoying myself.  I feel better and already people are saying “You’re looking well.”

Have you had any similar experiences where you’ve set your goal too high and then found, when changing it, making it more manageable, you are able to achieve it more successfully? I’d love to know.  Do drop me an email.  helen@helenfostercoaching.co.uk