040 – Inspire Virtual Runs host, Richard Conner, shares a positive message, along with his running journey this year and building new habits in 2022.
Recap of my virtual and in-person races in 2021
Reflecting and acknowledging your accomplishments
Importance of being part of a running community
5 simple tips for building a new habit
About your Inspire Virtual Runs Host
Richard Conner Richard is a strategic marketing professional with experience in B2B marketing. Richard is the founder of Inspire Virtual Runs and is passionate about helping others reach their goals. He is a Connecticut native and is a husband, dad, writer, Star Wars fan, and of course – runner! Richard recently discovered obstacle course racing and has fully embraced this new obsession.
Welcome to Episode 40. I’d like to end the year with sharing a little bit about my own personal running journey for 2021. Some of the struggles that I went through, and how I was reminded by our community to recognize and celebrate my accomplishments, hope you enjoy. Here’s what you can look forward to on this episode of Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast. And I’m excited to say that I did all three things. I finished it, I improved my time. And I hit my target time; all three things. And that was super grateful, happy, excited that I was able to do that. And that was really a great moment for me.
Welcome to Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast, whether you are new to running or seasoned, get tips in the inspiration that you need to achieve your health and fitness goals. Now, here’s your host, Richard Conner.
Richard Conner 1:08
Hi, everyone, welcome to Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast. Today, I’m going to share a little bit about my running journey, and 2021 and some of the struggles that I went through throughout the year. And I’ll tell you a little bit about how this all started started and why I wanted to share this with you.
Richard Conner 1:30
So about a month or so ago, I completed my third and final Spartan Decker race. And I was exceptionally proud of that race, because not only did I improve my time, over the first two races, I actually hit my target time, which I think was like the first time I’ve done that the entire year. And I was super excited about it super proud. And I posted about it and our running community. And I’d mentioned how, through the ups and downs of the year, I finally achieved my goal. And someone had reminded me or acknowledged the many accomplishments I had throughout the year. And it made me start to think Wow, well, first thank you to the running community, who was paying attention and kind of following my journey, but also for reminding me that it wasn’t just about hitting that target time. But I’ve done so many things throughout the year that I should be proud of. And I wanted to share this message with all of you, because I want you to be proud of everything that you had achieved this year as well.
Richard Conner 2:45
So let me take you back and share a little bit about some of the races and a little bit about my running journey throughout the year. I kicked off the year with a 90 day winter running streak. And if you’ve been following my journey for a while, you know that through past guests, I had been inspired to do a few things. One of which was embrace the cold and the winter, which I don’t like the cold. I don’t like the winter, and I live in New England in the US. And we get plenty of both. The second is running outdoors. This is something that I really didn’t enjoy doing in the past I normally ran on the treadmill unless I was running races. And I just didn’t really think about or want to run outside. But with everything having to do with the pandemic, it kind of forced me to embrace running outside. So at the beginning of the year, I put those two things together. And I made a commitment to do a 90 day winter running streak. And it was brutal. Let me be honest, it felt like every day I had to deal with something, it was either windy or very cold or raining or snow. And everyday just had to button up and get up there and get that motivation to get out there. I’m super proud of that. Because not only did I make it for the 90 days, I’m a little bit of an overachiever and actually went 100 days just to see how far I could go before I said, Okay, enough is enough. So about 100 days was enough for me. But it was super cool to look back and think about every single day that I get out there and just kind of overcoming those mental barriers of not wanting to do something as uncomfortable as running outdoors in the winter and then the cold. And I was able to to do that. So I’ll share a little bit at the end of this episode on some of the tips that really kind of helps me kind of get through that. But that was a big accomplishment that I completely forgotten about because that was last last winter. Right so the community had reminded me of that And then since then, I’d run a number of races, again, not really thinking about some of these.
Richard Conner 5:05
So I ran some virtual races in the beginning of the year. The first one was for Run for Refugees, which is for the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services Organization. And it was super nice to number one had them on as a guest earlier on the show to talk about the organization, talk about run for refugees, and just the great work that they do. And then of course, supporting that by doing the race. So so that was great. I did another virtual race finish the run to 23 for Black History Month. And then I did a race that I do every year that the last couple of years have been virtual. And that is purple stripe for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. And that is something I do every year in memory of my mother in law. And again, super grateful to have the local chapter for paying came here as a guest on the show. So those are some of the virtual races that I had done this year that were supported. These organizations supported these causes that I really believe. And then about midway through the year, things started to open up again. And I was really hesitant about doing any kind of in person races. But I’m like, Alright, let’s let’s kind of give it a try. Right, it’s outdoors. And things seem to be improving through the middle of 2021. So the first in person race was the Branford 5k road race. And that’s a local road race here in my area. And that was just a wonderful experience, being able to run outdoors with other people again, and just being able to run on a different course, than some of the courses that I’ve run before and just a different race. So very cool experience to do that. So not to say that I’m not going to be doing any more virtual races or virtual races will be a part of what I do as well. But, you know, running in person races are great as well, great experience. And for those of you who like running in person races, nothing wrong with that, right, there’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. And for those of you who also enjoy running virtual races, the flexibility, the obviously much smaller crowds. I mean, that’s a that’s a great option too. So for me, I’m definitely going to do both, but I’m was definitely excited about getting back to in person races, which that first one was that 5k road race that I feel really good about.
Richard Conner 7:41
Then I ran into the Spartan DECA race series. And these are super cool, because I felt like through all the races that I just mentioned, I was I was in shape. I was motivated, I was inspired, I was moving, everything was really good. But, you know, as the year progressed, I’m not really quite sure what happened. But I lost some of that motivation. I lost some of that inspiration. I wasn’t running as much outdoors, I wasn’t doing my workouts, I wasn’t taking care of my nutrition. There were a lot of things that I wasn’t doing that I was doing previously. And I was pretty proud of kind of kind of sticking with it even in these strange and unprecedented times. So the DEKA races came along and my coach Kevin, who I think I talked about quite often, he’s my Spartan coach. He’s just great, great inspiration. And he’s helped me over the years, he introduced me to the Decker races and actually hosted the first one at his gym underdog fitness Connecticut. And we trained for it we trained for the first one was a DEKA strong. And if you’re not familiar with the Spartan DEKA races basically, it’s It basically consists of 10 stations, which you’re you’re rowing, you’re doing the ski machine, you’re doing ram burpees lunges, 10 different stations. And then depending on the level, you might mix in some running. So for the DEKA Strong, it’s just the 10 stations no running. If it is the DEKA Mile then it’s a 10 stations with a little bit of run in between each station that equals up to a mile. And then the DEKA Fit which is same same same 10 stations, probably a little bit different in some cases, but basically the same 10 stations, and then you mix in that 5k Run in between each of the stations. So it gets progressively harder as you go up. So the first one I did was a DEKA Strong and oh boy was that a rude awakening. I did it. I wanted to quit I got to the 10th station I was doing those ran burpees I wanted to quit. I didn’t train as well as I normally did and and really realistically I was looking for this to kind of do jumpstart my fitness, right get back into it. But it was it was hard. And I finished it, I felt really good about it. But of course, you know any of you know that when you finish something that you didn’t think that you could do or didn’t think you’d be good at, you’re like, Yeah, I’m gonna do that better. The next time, I’m going to do it again, I’m going to do it better the next time. So I didn’t plan for this at all, but decided you know what I’m going to do or go for DEKA trifecta, which are those three races, right, the Strong the Mile and the Fit all in one year. This is what I was going to do. So I did the DEKA fit, which was the 10 stations plus the 5k. Beautiful arena, a lot of great energy. And I felt really good again, training with Kevin from the first one we knew the areas to work on. And I felt really good going into that. And I didn’t hit my target time. But I definitely improved. So, you know, I was feeling good that I improved. I was feeling good about the race, but I wasn’t feeling great, because they didn’t hit my target time. So that was the the second race. And then before I got to the last one, I did a half marathon, my first imperson half marathon. So if you again, if you’ve been following my journey, you know that last year, I did my first virtual half marathon as part of the Spartan Beast, the virtual Spartan Beast that I’d done, pretty happy with my time last year, and I was like, You know what I could do better this year, I’m going to do it again, I could do better. And the opportunity came up.
Richard Conner 11:37
And with a half marathon in person this year. And I have been training. But training has been off. So I’ve been running but not as many miles as I did last year not following the same exact plan as I did the last time. So when I did the race, I’d say first six miles, felt great. I was ahead of the the pacer that I was targeting, I could hear them in the background, I’m feeling great about myself, I’m feeling great about the race, it was a perfect day. Not too hot, not too cold, wasn’t raining. It was awesome. I Tom, I hit the Seven Mile, hmm. Things started to fall apart a little bit. And that’s probably natural running these long distances. But for me, it felt like the end of the world. So I can’t tell you what hurt first, or what happened first. But I could tell you that I started to have pain in my body sort of a pain in my leg, I started to lose focus, I took the took an energy gel that brought me back to life. So that was green, I started to feel a little dehydrated. So I started to hydrate along the way, probably not as soon as I should have, but along the way. And then I got to I don’t know, I want to say the like the 11th or 12th mile. And that’s when it really fell apart.
Richard Conner 12:56
Where I didn’t know if I was gonna make it. I literally was thinking you know what, this is probably it for me, I’m probably going to stop right here. Because if I go any further, I’m going to be on the side of the road. Like I see one of the other runners hooked up to the IV, that’s probably going to be me and less than half a mile. And then I thought to myself, I didn’t come this far just to come this far. I know it’s cliche to say that, but that’s literally what I was thinking. I just had another mile or two to go. And I was gonna finish the race. So I said, the least I could do is just slow down. Even if I don’t hit my time, I want to finish this race. So I’m just going to slow down, I’m just going to keep moving, I’m going to get to that finish line. So I can’t say the rest of the race. The rest of the mile or two that I had was was rainbows and sunshine. However the saying goes, but I did it. I finished it. I crossed that finish line. And if you see my pictures, you think I’d won the race. I felt so good about crossing that finish line. And to top it off I PR’d. I had a personal record for a half marathon, I was super excited about it. Because not only that I feel terrible halfway through the race and didn’t think I was going to finish. But the race was so much harder than the one that I had run the previous year for a half marathon. So I went from a very flat, smooth, easy course, to a very, very hilly and windy course, not what I was expecting. So I was super, super happy that I beat my time. But I didn’t hit my target time. And that was getting me down. So if you can imagine two races in a row. Sure I did better, but I didn’t hit my target time. And in my mind, I didn’t quite succeed. And then this brings us to the final DEKA race, which this one was a DEKA mile. So this is the second tier. So I’m already thinking I already did the hardest one. So the one in the middle can’t be that hard, right? I definitely should be able to hit this I should be honest prove, and I definitely should be able to hit my target time. And this one, I went through the race, just I was just going to pace myself, I’m not going to push myself too hard. I’m just going to pace myself. And I’m going to try to hit my time. But really, I want to finish it, and I want to improve. And those are my goals. And I’m excited to say that I did all three things. I finished it, I improved my time. And I hit my target time, all three things. And I was super grateful, happy, excited, that I was able to do that. And that was really a great moment for me. And that’s what I posted, and within the running community about that race being able to do that. And that’s when I got the response. Yeah, but what about all the great things that you’ve done this year leading up to this point. And again, I’d forgotten about that. I share all this with you, again, just to share a little bit about my running journey this year, which, you know, as I look back and reflect, wow, it’s been quite a year like it is something I should be proud of. Right. And I’m sure many of you have had similar accomplishments, right? Even if it’s not running races, even if it’s working out on a regular basis, even if it’s just small changes in your nutrition, spending time with your family, or the things that you set out to do in 2021.
Richard Conner 16:27
Congratulate yourself, celebrate those things, recognize what you’ve done, reflect on all those things that you’ve done, because that’s what this is about. And that’s why I wanted to share this message with you. What’s next, we’re at the end of 2021, just a rollercoaster year, who knows what’s gonna happen in 2022? Every time we think that this whole situation is behind us, something else comes up in front of us. So how are we thinking about 2022? Well, as you’re thinking about that, as you’re thinking about what goals you’re going to put in place, what you’re going to get you’re going to strive for, I just wanted to share some of the the tips that really helped me this past year, through my running streak, and just kind of building those habits and in some cases, kind of rebuilding habits, because I really fell out of my routine, and I fell backwards. And in 2022, my goal is really to get back to where I was right plain and simple. I worked very hard to get to where I was I fell off the wagon, I’m going to get back. So here are five tips that I’m going to share with you that I’ve shared before in the podcast. But I think it’s relevant for me to share them again. So the first one is really focus on those habits that you want to build in those goals that you want to make and come up with just one habit.
Richard Conner 18:00
Just one habit, you might want to come up with more, that that’s okay, too. But the less you have, the higher the chances you will be in achieving it right having that focus. I myself am so guilty of wanting to do a ton of things. So I’m narrowing it down just to a few things, but really just kind of one main thing that I’m after. So just build that one habit and then go from there build on that. The second thing is make it small. If you try to build a habit or set a goal that’s just too big, you’re setting yourself up for failure, because your mind is going to say, I can’t do that. No, I can’t do that. That’s too much. That’s too big. I don’t have time, right. But if it’s small, if it’s something that’s super small, and you build that habit, you could start to build on it after that. But you got to start somewhere. I was listening, I think it was to a podcast or reading something where someone had said, if your habit is to get out and walk or run every day. Don’t start by walking and running every day. Start by taking out your shoes, your walking shoes, your running shoes, and just putting them on. That’s it every day. Maybe for a week, build that habit. Get your mind into that cadence or into that mindset of you’re going to do this activity and you’re setting aside just a little bit of time to do that. So that’s number two. Number three is make a plan. This is super important. Making a plan is going to kind of give you that roadmap right that you can follow to build that habit. And don’t be too strict about your plan. Some people don’t like following a plan. If that’s the kind of person you are that’s okay, and you could still build your habit reach your goals, that’s great. But if you’re like me, I need a plan. I need something to follow. But don’t be too strict about it. You know how the saying goes, never skip a Monday. I skip Mondays all the time. But it doesn’t mean that I miss a week. Right? So for me, I may say, I’m going to run three or four days a week, I’m going to do my workouts on the off days, that’s fine. But I’m not as strict about every single day. Some days, I may say, Yes, this one pick particular day, I’m going to do my long run. So for me, Sunday’s usually are best for me to do my long run, simply because of how the most high right is on Sundays. But outside of that, I really try not to set too strict of a schedule, because if I miss it, it’s easy for me to say, well, I missed it this week. So I guess I don’t have to do it. So make a plan, try not to be too too strict about it to the point where you don’t do it.
Richard Conner 21:01
Number four is commit for a minimum of 30 days. And they say around 28 or 30 days is what you need to start to build that habit. So make that commitment. Especially if you’re trying something new, if you’re trying something that you haven’t done before, you really need time to figure out if it’s something that you’re going to like and stick with. If you only do it for a day or two, that’s not enough, that’s not enough for you to figure out that, that you don’t like it. Of course, you can make that decision. But if you’re really serious, and if it comes to your fitness and health, try for at least 30 days. And then after that you say you know, this really is not for me, try something else. But try to commit for at least 30 days. And then number five is accountability. This one is super, super important is having that accountability, whether it’s an accountability partner, whether it’s an accountability group, like a running community, having that is going to be really helpful. And that’s one of the things that kind of helped get me through the last running streak that I did. And you know, if I decide to do it, this time around, I’ll post about it as well. So I’ve already kind of kicked it off, and I started posting a little bit. But that’s super helpful because your community is going to be watching, they’re going to be cheering for you, they’re going to be supporting you when you don’t feel like doing that run. Or if you don’t feel like you had a great one, right? They’re going to be there for you. So having that accountability partner, or group is going to be super, super helpful. So that’s really it for today. I just wanted to close the year, sharing my journey, sharing these tips with you. I hope they’re helpful. I would love to hear from you. If you enjoyed this episode, please send me a DM inspirevirtualruns on Instagram, or also on Facebook. We also have a Facebook group. So really, we’d love to hear from you and love to hear what are the things or topics or themes or guests you would love to hear from so definitely reach out. Let us know. We’d love to hear from you. And you know, as you think about 2021 and the things that you want to do for 2022 reflect, celebrate, acknowledge the great things that you’ve done. And think about what are those things that you’re going to do to make a difference in your health and fitness in 2022. So with that, thanks for listening, and have a great day.
That’s it for this episode of Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review. Also, be sure to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss an episode. Thanks for listening