Was your athletic life a bit of a train wreck over the past year or so? Of course it was. Don’t even try to fake it, and know that you’re in excellent company.

On my end, I’ve been dealing with a grumpy right foot (probably plantar fasciitis, ugh), for what seems like forever. I started and stopped running so many times last year that I’ve lost count. I just wanted to RUN, and failed at it on a daily basis. (More on that below.)

Rebecca, the author, contemplating why she keeps doing this to herself.

I read a lot of books to try to pump myself up and get back to it. Sage wisdom all over the place, but some advice that has always chafed at me, personally, is, “Get an accountability buddy!” Thursday Night Flight Club is on a break, everyone is dealing with the heaviness of 2020 and beyond…I didn’t want to add to anyone’s mental load, no matter what sports psychology says.

Besides, buddy or not, there’s still only one person who’s around enough to make the biggest impact in my athletic life: MYSELF. So that’s who I decided to make my accountability buddy. Me.

I’ve found a new athletic groove since March, most of which I can chalk up to holding myself more accountable in my day-to-day athletic life. What follows are all my secrets. (You’re welcome.)

There’s still only one person who’s around enough to make the biggest impact in my athletic life: MYSELF.

Make Your Ultimate Running Goal

Everyone needs a touchstone for why they run. A place to mentally return to when things are hard, or we feel like we’re getting too wrapped up in the day-to-day. And it’s gotta be a BIGGIE. You can’t get faster forever. You’re not always going to run as far as you want, either. You have to know your “WHY am I doing this, anyway?”

Example: For me, I want to run strong and feel good doing it, for as long as my body will let me. And when I’m staring down a list of strength exercises that I don’t wanna do, or yet another run/walk workout on the calendar, I remember how those things help me with my Ultimate Running Goal.

PRs are nice and all, but how about this jacket, huh?!

Know Your Pitfalls

Learn what your common mistakes are, and stay the heck away from them. “You can do hard things.” And sometimes those hard things are saying, “No!”

Example: I love speedy track days in a training plan! Back in October I was doing a modified Mehra Mile Plan, Easy edition. But I saw that first track workout on the schedule, and I went for it. And it felt GREAT…that day. The next day, my right foot was *very* angry at me and *very* stiff, and I completely stopped doing anything for months. I killed my momentum by aggravating my injury for one feel-good day.

Think of Future You as a different person. Someone who depends on Now You to help them out.

Be Your Own Buddy

Think of Future You as a different person. Someone who depends on Now You to help them out.

Example: Future Rebecca wants her full arsenal of flystyle clean and available so she can dress right for the weather. Now Rebecca generally loses track of what’s in the laundry pile (Know Your Pitfalls), but she doesn’t want to let Future Rebecca down if she needs that Flyout Short Sleeve in Black on a cool yet sunny day.

You do not want to disappoint Future Rebecca, believe me.

Check Yourself Out

Momentum can be a huge motivator, but changes don’t happen overnight. Invest in practices that allow you to discover your progress. And try to not tie your progress to numbers. (Remember your Ultimate Running Goal.)

Example: After most runs, when I’m feeling good, I like to finish fast. I roll into something like strides, and then I take it a little faster. And maybe a little faster. I don’t do this further than 150 meters, but I get my track sesh/race FOMO zoomies out just a little bit, and can feel my strength training at work. Just this taste of speed makes me sooooo happy.

Invest in practices that allow you to discover your progress.

Make Your Challenges Your Rewards

Like our good friend Lauren Fleshman says, “Make your race your playground, not your proving ground.”

Example: I wanna sign up for a race so bad. Pandemic protocols aside, I really miss following a training plan and testing myself at the end of it. But I know that I will get greedy if I start following a plan too closely right now (Know Your Pitfalls), and I refuse to lose my good momentum I’ve built up (Check Yourself Out).

Did you consistently stick to the plan and didn’t get re-injured? Congratulations – you get to race!

There you are. Five things to remember to keep your own self accountable. And here’s a sixth, in case you need it: I, LilSheba, can be your "Accountable to Yourself Accountability Buddy," if you need me. Just reach out on the socials (Twitter or IG).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have Future Rebecca laundry to do, and I’m not gonna let her down.

April 29, 2021 — Rebecca Nelson
Tags: team training


Karen said:

Hi Rebecca, great article. I can totally relate to the accountability piece. When I rely on someone else to hold me accountable it is too easy to make it about them and not take responsibility for my actions and results. A workout partner is great motivation so that we don’t let someone else down yet Accountability is my job and mine alone.

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