Get a goal
Get a goal and stay motivated
Why is it that so many people give up so easily?
Why is it that it’s not just small children who keep asking ‘Why?’?
Some days it feels like everything we do is questioned, and there are days when it is us doing the questioning.
Why do I need to go to the gym? Why am I going out for a run when it’s raining? Why do I bother with this fitness stuff when it seems my genes have decided the sport I’m becoming best suited to is sumo wrestling?
The truth is we need a challenge, something to motivate us, something to give us focus and something different to talk about at the pub. If we don’t have a goal there is a real danger we quickly lose interest and motivation in what we are doing and instead of making the progress we are well capable of we end up sat watching lowsy TV when we used to be training and with our training shoes used for nothing more than walking to the bar. Alternatively we launch into a fitness/diet frenzy that lacks focus, sees us overcooking it, and therefore, we are quickly left tired and fed up.
A goal is what will boost your motivation, get you out the door on a wet night and give you the succinct come back to all the negative types who dare to say that they don’t know why we bother.
Choosing a Goal
The key to choosing a goal is to pick something that is realistic, challenging, stimulating and definite.
There is no point in opting for that trek across Antarctica if you are not a fan of nippy autumn evenings. You have to pick something that, given the preparation you are willing and able to put in, you are going to be able to achieve.
This may be a women’s charity 5K (if you are already a woman, otherwise it may require preparation far beyond what you are willing to go through). It could be a marathon. This is where you need to start considering realistic and challenging at the same time. If you have not run a step before then the 5K is going to be achievable with eight to ten weeks of training. A marathon is not going to be something to consider for a while yet. You need to ask yourself, “How fit am I now and how long have I got before I need to be in shape for this event?” You need a challenge that you are able to build up to over time. If it is too tough you will become disillusioned. If it is too easy you will struggle to maintain motivation over time as you will arrive at the necessary level of fitness long before your goal arrives. A good pointer is to monitor your progress each month. Week on week your fitness will not change much and any changes may be outweighed by factors such as whether you had a busy week with work or the family.
Being sure you know what you need to do to be ready for your goal is another factor. Get some good advice. It is not just a question of whether you are doing too much or too little but whether you are putting your energy into the right things. Doing Usain Bolt style sprint training is not the best thing for running a 10K!
A way of dealing with this is to have short term and longer term goals. Be SMART (check out our smartish article). Shorter term you may want to commit to running three times a week or to running that 5K. Longer term you may want to aim for a marathon. Aiming for a 5K first, followed by a 10K, then a 10M or half marathon event will see you move towards your long term goal with other landmarks to maintain your focus and to celebrate achieving as you progress. Don’t look to jump the river in one go look for your stepping stones. These will help you keep that focus, you will feel positive as you cross off each challenge and you will not grow bored as you are always aiming at something different. Another advantage is that you will have far more idea of how to step towards you long term goal. Your fitness may progress faster or more slowly at different times and having a good way of monitoring this will help you plan. It can also be very positive to have another go at something you have done before. Having built up from 5K to half marathon you may do a month of shorter faster training and then target another 5K.
You may surprise yourself at how easy you find something that once seemed such a big challenge.
Choosing a different goal
Of course your challenges need not all be event based. To slim down to a certain size or to train a certain number of times a week can also give you focus. But events can be useful as they give you a specific date for a specific goal.
It can be very useful to train with someone as you aim for your goal. Even if your partner is aiming for something different you will find yourselves encouraging and motivating one another.
Make sure you give yourself every chance to succeed. If you have a definite goal then if you are feeling really tired or fighting off a bug you have no need to feel guilty about backing off the training for a week. You know it is better to do this and be back to normal training next week rather than wiping yourself out and taking the risk of putting your goal in jeopardy. And be properly equipped.
There may be days when you head out for a run when it is cold and wet, a weatherproof but breathable running jacket will make the world of difference. Wearing breathable, technical fabrics that are cut to allow your body to move in all the ways it needs to and that look the part will make you feel like going to succeed. Make sure everything helps you towards your goal.
The key is that whether it is you or someone else asking ‘Why are you doing this?’ as you pull on your training shoes you know the answer and can recall all the things you have already achieved.
Ways to stay motivated
- Have a specific goal
- Have a shorter term goals that act as stepping stones towards a bigger goal
- Set a date for when you are going to achieve your goal
- Reward yourself for all your successes along the way
- Look back at least one a month to see how you have progressed
- Find someone to train with
- Make sure you are properly kitted out