Fitness Goal Series Part 1: Tips to Inspire You
Winter, work, kids, cookies and past fitness failures will have a hard time holding you back this year. Browse this list of fitness goal tips to find the motivation you need to identify, train for and successfully complete your fitness goal! Part one of a series…
Setting Your Fitness Training Goal
1) Have a Well-Defined Goal
As obvious as this sounds, clearly identify your fitness goal. Fuzzy goals produce fuzzy results. “I’d like to be in great shape this summer” is not a goal. “I’d like to run a half marathon in August” is a goal.
2) Choose a Goal You Can’t Fake
Challenge yourself, within reason (what’s reasonable is up to you…). Your goal should be something you can’t “wing” with your current fitness level, something you will fail if you don’t train for. Choose a goal which will require real consistency and effort to achieve. If you are a runner and can tough out a 5K on any day of the week, aim for a faster time or a longer distance. When I first started running, I chose to train for a marathon because it required levels of discipline and fitness I didn’t have at the time. This provided the right balance of motivation and healthy fear to keep me training all summer (the healthy fear has now turned into a healthy habit).
3) Choose a Realistic Goal
We all have lives which include real responsibility to family, work and friends. Weigh these responsibilities when choosing your goal. What is a realistic investment of time, energy and finances you can make into training? Training for an Ironman might be amazing, but now might not be the right time. This determination takes wisdom since bad habits will try to justify themselves as necessary (ie: late nights on the town, TV shows, laziness).
A helpful hint is to view your fitness goal as one in a series. You can build up to your dream goal (ie: Ironman, Ultra) with a progressive set of “stepping stone” goals. What you used to be able to do and what you wish you could do don’t matter much. What you can actually do at this point in your life is what counts. Choose a good goal and go for it, no regrets!
Planning and Tracking
4) Do Your Homework
Make sure you know what you are in for. While halfway through the training for my first marathon I discovered it was a trail marathon, run on the side of a mountain – yikes! Training for a mountainous race instead of a flat race required some major adjustments to my training. Avoid a similar mistake by looking into factors which will influence how you train: event type, location, weather, etc.
5) Consult Experts (Successful and Unsuccessful)
Experts are those who’ve either already done what you are attempting to do or something similar. Not all experts are successful. In other words, learn how the successful succeed, but also learn how the unsuccessful fail.
6) Find/Create an Exercise Training Plan
Armed with your knowledge of a well-defined goal and the advice of experts, find or create an exercise training plan to follow. Exercise plans and worksheets are abundantly available online. I’ve had a good experience with Hal Higdon’s running plans.
7) Track Training Progress
Logging progress is rewarding and fun, especially with a GPS unit. A variety of tools exist for tracking progress. A few good ones include Strava, Map My Run, Garmin Connect and Sport Tracks. Progress is often hard to notice day to day, keeping a log will let you know exactly where you are at and how much you’ve improved.