“New Year, New Me”. A tale for the ages. However it is one that more often than not starts brightly and dims before February comes around. The reasons for this are often the same for everyone – by identifying these you can do a pre-mortem and ensure you reach the goals you have set at the start of year!
Often the first hurdle people fail at (which they may not realise until later down the line) is at the initial stage. Some choose a drastic, unattainable goal – whereas others may pick too many they want to achieve.
The trick here is to:
A) Limit your number of goals and
B) Choose realistic targets to reach.
Be ambitious, but not delusional. Being overly aspiring may lead to frustration and abandonment of your goals.
Patience (and persistence) is a virtue, and one that rewards you.
For arguments sake let’s presume your goal for the year is to be able to run the Dublin Marathon in October and you’re starting from the couch. This is an ambitious yet attainable goal for most.
To help reach the finish line break the end goal into smaller targets to reach.
Incremental steps is key. Each time you reach a milestone you have a new target to reach.
Create a Training Plan
From here you can create a detailed training plan to reach each step i.e I will run x amount on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for example. Try not to deviate from your plan, however remain flexible when required. If you need to change the day, or you don’t think you have enough time for a run – go for a short one. Whatever you can manage. Keep the momentum.
Everyone misses the odd training session, but make a promise to yourself:
“I will never miss two training sessions in a row.”
This will help ensure you don’t get out of the swing of things and the training will soon become a habit. In-turn this will increase the likelihood of achieving your goals tenfold.
It is much easier to maintain your fitness levels than start from scratch.
Every time you reach a milestone reward yourself! It doesn’t have to be something that detracts from your efforts, but something that boosts them going forward. This may be a new pair of running shoes or piece of clothing!
Keep Track Of Your Progress
Keeping track of your progress is key to help you reach your targets. If you can’t measure your results you cannot be certain of improvement. Invest in a running/ fitness watch to help with this.
The numbers don’t lie. Seeing your self improve will act as a fantastic motivator. Similarly should your results begin to plateau or even decline it may be time to shake things up and make some changes to your training plan. Do not be disheartened by this, it’s an inevitability for most
Incorporating new methods to your training regime is often exciting and will keep it fresh. Doing the same thing can get boring, variation is the spice of life! Again, taking the Dublin Marathon as an example some ideas may be to try:
- Interval training
- Hill sprints
- Tempo runs
- Longer runs at a slower pace
Training using different techniques will keep your body guessing and give yourself a platform to improve in different aspects; whether it’s your anaerobic, aerobic or muscular capabilities and thresholds.
Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Often people will go guns blazing when starting a New Years Resolution. Going from 0-100 is rarely sustainable – for mind or body. If you don’t end up quitting because it’s no longer fun or too hard you may find yourself getting injured instead.
Again, incremental steps is key. You might only be able to run once or twice a short distance the first week whilst your muscles adapt. Don’t overexert yourself, listen to the body. Keep making further positive adjustments as you get comfortable with your regime.
Find a Fitness Buddy or Accountability Partner
Resolutions are often personal quests so pursuing them can become a lonely venture. This too can lead to abandonment of your goals.
However, ask a friend of family member to see if they’re up for joining you on your fitness voyage! It will make it more fun knowing someone is in the same boat and to share each others progress and training ideas with.
Alternatively find an accountability partner! Ask them to keep you in-check regarding your goals. This could be a friend, partner, family member you see regularly or a colleague at work.
Motivation Comes and Goes
Sticking to your targets and training sessions is easy when motivation is high. Many will ultimately fail when the motivation begins to evaporate. This is what will often separate those who reach their goals and those that don’t.
Remembering your ‘WHY’ will help combat the urge to stop. These are the reason/s you chose to start your resolutions.
You should have made a lot of progress by this stage and if you can still train when the motivation wanes then there is no stopping you!