In his third Fast10 blog of 2020 Isle of Man athlete Ollie Lockley talks about focusing on what you can control in your life.

Taking control

Being in control means that we have the ability to determine our behaviour, choices, and actions.

In order to be the very best version of ourselves we need to have some element of control, and essentially pick and decide what matters and is most important.

For me, running provides structure, a meaning, and an identity. If I wasn’t able to control what I can control (controllables), then I wouldn’t be able to fulfil my goals and ambitions – and subsequently I probably wouldn’t enjoy running as much.

Of course there are going to be scenarios which are out of our control, such as the weather, the competition and illness, but being aware of what’s within our remit, could be the difference between winning and losing. 

Being Held Accountable

Having a set of realistic standards that are going to help us improve, which we can control, are important.

For example, completing our second run at the end of the day, even if we really don’t want to, or waking up at the crack of dawn to fit some rehab sessions in before a day at work. It’s likely we have all reached the end of a long day and thought, “I really can’t be bothered going out again… I think I’ll just relax instead.”

It is in this moment that WE have the control to choose between staying in, or getting out of the door to run. There are going to be times when fatigue is the real deal and it’s necessary to be flexible with training plans, and make the sensible decision to rest.

Being honest with yourself

However we need to be honest with ourselves. If we consistently let training slip, even by a little, we are not staying  accountable. There are times when the last thing I want to do is go for my second run, especially when there is a small-scale hurricane howling outside, coupled with driving rain.

I can’t control the weather, but I can control my decision regarding whether to run or not. In situations like this I often ask myself, “How good do you want to be Ollie?”. And without too much thought, I’m out the door in my battle gear, getting the run done. Once completed, I feel that sense of accomplishment and fundamentally, I am happy knowing that I made the right choice. 

Whether it’s completing that second session or simply going to bed earlier, these decisions have the potential to help optimise performance.

Consistent routines can help

If we can get into a consistent routine with being disciplined (in a healthy way), then we are giving ourselves the best chance to flourish. Of course this doesn’t mean we need to live a monk-like lifestyle, but we sleep contently at night, knowing we are doing our best to leave no stone unturned. 

There was a point when I asked myself the question, “Am I doing all I can do to be the very best I can be, with everything that is within my control?”. The answer was quite simply “No”, and so I made a list of areas in which I could improve on, and how I was going to achieve these.

Once I figured out how I was going to improve, I acknowledged that to achieve these goals, I needed to be more self-disciplined. Controlling the controllables is all we can do, so if we can do that to the best of our ability then there’s no room for regrets. 

Credit: Richard Owen

Training Environment

Having the right training environment is also important, and trying to create an environment that works, is paramount.

We don’t have control over where we are born or raised, but we do have the choice as to where we train, who with and for how long… to some extent. I love following and observing how elite athletes train through social media, but I am constantly reminded of whether I’m doing enough.

Unfortunately the Isle of Man and most of the UK is not situated 8,000ft above sea level, with beautiful rolling tracks, and I am not fortunate enough to train with dozens of other like-minded athletes. Subsequently I then doubt my capabilities and potential.

But then I find time to rationalise and remind myself that I can only control what I can with the resources I have. There no is point in wasting time getting deflated about something we can’t control, so that’s why we need to create an environment that will help us progress.

If anything it should be a constant reminder that we have to continue to work hard. In my situation I have added in consistent sports massage treatments, strength and conditioning sessions, yoga, stretching and mobility work. I have complete control over whether I fulfil these sessions during my weekly programme or not, but I do believe it is in my best interest to do so. 

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