Thursday, October 28, 2010

Staying the Course

A lot of you are running marathons and other races this fall. I mean, really, this is the best time to run, isn't it? Maybe the race has already passed or maybe it's still in a few weeks. Or, maybe you're not running any race but you're trying to loose some weight, eat healthier, or bulk up your savings account. We all set goals to improve our life in some way, it's natural. But one other thing is natural for some too: swerving off course.

It's easy to take detours when we're trying to reach a goal, so the key is to stay motivated to stay on course.

A few tips for staying motivated when trying to reach your goal:

1. Set multiple goals. It's good to have an ultimate goal, but on a hard day, it can become daunting and seem unattainable. So, you should also set mini-goals; checkpoints along the path to reach your ultimate goal.

2. Speak up. Tell people what you want to accomplish. Your husband or wife, a best friend, a colleague, the blogosphere. Once you've told someone, you'll feel responsible for reaching it. I did this when I decided to run the NYC Marathon last year. As soon as I decided I was going to do it, I told almost everyone I was close to because I knew I'd feel obligated to cross the finish line. I couldn't back out.

3. Focus on the benefits that reaching your goal will bring. When setting your goal, write down why you want to accomplish that specific thing. I think people often get to wrapped up in getting to the end point that they forget why they wanted to get there in the first place. And that's the most important thing. Make a list of the health benefits it will bring you, how it will help your relationships with others and yourself, how it will improve your future. Make a list of anything that will be better because you've reached your goal. Then pull out the list whenever you need a reminder.

4. Post motivational pictures and notes in your home and office and throw one in your gym bag or purse; any convenient place that you can turn to easily. A few suggestions:

4. Acknowledge all accomplishments and give yourself a little slack. Be proud of yourself when you do all your workouts for the week, or choose the salad over the burger and fries, or make coffee at home instead of buying at the coffee shop. At the same time, don't get discouraged if you eat eat two cookies instead of one or have to work late one day and can't fit your run in. Take a deep breath and move on. You can't go back in time and tomorrow is another day.

5. When you do achieve your mini-goals, celebrate! Decide on something small that you can do for yourself to celebrate that won't take you off track to reach your bigger goal. Go get a mani/pedi, buy yourself a special type of tea, spend an afternoon alone reading a good book or indulging in pop culture magazines. Just do something fun to celebrate! You've achieved a goal and you worked hard to do it!

6. Have fun! Get your friends into the action (have them over for a healthy brunch instead of going out to a restaurant, take walks together instead of going to a movie), try something new (take a fitness or cooking class, run a new route or join a running club).

7. Remember how proud of yourself you will be when you reach your goal. It's thrilling to cross the finish line, pure relief when you've paid off your debt, and fantastic to receive your degree.

Reaching a goal is one thing that's really about you. Yes, there will be benefits for others too, but setting a goal is about doing something that will make your life better. You deserve to reach your goal and you can do it. Just stay the course!

So, this morning I went for a four mile run. It was 65 degrees already with 93% humidity and a strong headwind at points. The humidity was not my friend this morning. I was a bit slow until the turn transition from the promenade to Battery Park when a woman came up from behind and passed me: she was running strong. I'd like to thank her this morning for being there because I instantly picked up my pace for the rest of the run. Just seeing her gave me that little push I needed this morning to work harder. Today's run was good but tomorrow's should be better since the humidity is going to drop today! That said, I think I may need to alter my early morning route soon since there seem to be fewer and fewer people out on the promenade.

What is one thing that helps you stay the course?
today's workout -
4mile run
2x35sec planks


Ann Brennan said...

Great post. I like the bit about small goals. There is a book called the Double Goal Coach that I read for my kids. My kids set goals for games but this book suggests that instead of setting a goal of scoring three goals in a game, you set levels of goals. Score three goals but on a different level, make two moves, take 8 shots on goal. Pass back to the goalie once. Then if you don't meet the big goal you can still know you have accomplished something. I love that approach.

Pamela said...

Lovely post. I agree especially with being vocal about your acocmplishment toward goals. It's easy to slack off if you think you're not "accountable." Goals + visibility. Daily Mile is so great for that. Found you through @brennanannie :)
I'm @pameloth

Morgan said...

Love this post! All of it is so true!!! Just announced #3 and I can't wait to start training!

Jennifer said...

I did two 12 minute runs with a 3 min recovery walk in-between this morning. I also just looked online and found a 5k on Nov. 20 in my town that will benefit Paradise Bound Ministries. That just happens to be the ministry I served at this summer in Guatemala with my oldest 2 daughters. That is a total coincidence that only God could have planned. I had no idea. So now I need to get registered before I back out. Cold weather scares me. LOL!

lindsay said...

great tips! i have posty's allll over the place when i am in training. well, even when i'm not :) i just love sticking my fav motivational quotes up!

great run too! i love when i have people around to help push me - whether they know they are or not.

Samantha said...

What a great post. Finding motivation is something I'm REALLY struggling with at the moment. I especially love numbers 3 and 4!