Cliche yes, but let's talk about goals. A new year is upon us, and we all know that's the ONLY time you can set goals. Just kidding.
But - have you taken a moment to think about what you'd like to accomplish this year? We're not only talking about running/fitness. What else do you want to achieve this year?
Sometimes setting goals can be hard. We have an idea of what we want, but how do we get there? Is the goal too lofty? Is it too easy? Is it financially or emotionally feasible? Will you have the support of your spouse and family?
Think about your goals. What is is that you really want to achieve? Think hard - get to the root of your goal. Why do you want to achieve it? How will it benefit you? Will it benefit others? What steps will you need to take to reach it?
How big is your goal? Will it take several years to reach it, or is it attainable in a few months?
Write it down. Make a list of your goals and the steps you'll take to reach them. Make copies. Don't just leave it in a Word Doc on your computer. Hang it on the fridge. Put a copy in your car. Throw one in your gym bag and stick one on the bathroom mirror. Be reminded daily of what you want in life.
Here's a few examples
GOAL: To sub 2:00 in the half marathon
GOAL: To drop 30 seconds off my 5k time
GOAL: To earn a promotion at work
GOAL: To become leaner and stronger
GOAL: To read more literature.
Team up with someone who has similar goals. Uh hey - us!!! The Fit Club! That's what we are here for. Your goals don't have to be identical. Maybe your goal is a 2:00 half, and the goal of your teammate is a 2:10 half. That's okay. Maybe you're training for 26.2 and your buddy is working on speed to drop their 5k time. That's great! You can keep each other accountable and make sure you're both at the 5am workouts. You can coax each other out the door when Netflix sounds better, and you can meet up for workouts, even if you're not on the same training schedule.
Track your progress. Write down how you're doing. Keep a log/journal/etc. Seeing how you are progressing helps make the goal seem attainable. Plus, as you look back at the progress you've made, you'll have something to be proud of. When you see that on Week 1, you did 8x400m repeats in 1:24 and then you see that on week Week 13 you did 16x400 in 1:22, you'll be proud.
There are several good options for training journals and software, but a notebook or Excel work like a charm as well.
Check out the Believe Training Journal (you can find it on Amazon or via Oiselle). We also like the Garmin Connect software or TrainingPeaks.
Visualize your goals. What does running a 2:00 half look like to you? What does it feel like when you cross that finish line? What does obtaining your PhD look like? How will it feel to have those letters behind your name? What does losing 15 pounds look like? How will you feel when you can wear your coveted jeans again? What does helping start a new non-profit look like? What does volunteering at the animal shelter 3 days a week look like? Think about these things as you work toward your goal. See yourself once you've achieved the goals.
Remember that failure is okay. This doesn't mean you should give up when the going gets tough. It only means that sometimes, we don't reach every goal we set on the first try. In fact, sometimes we try and try and try and still don't reach our goals. That's okay too. "Failing" at something doesn't make you a failure. Use your failures and learn from them. Failure is one of the best teachers. So, be flexible. If your goal is to nail a 5k PR at ShamRox in March and it doesn't happen, you're not a failure. Learn from what went wrong, keep working, and try again. Maybe your goal was to run your first marathon in April, but you got hurt. That's okay! Pick a different race and try when you're healthy! Your goal may take months, it may take years. But keep working. Perhaps you'll never reach your goal - but it sure as heck will give you something to work for.
Take it slow. Rome wasn't built in a day, and you're not going to drop 10 minutes off your half time in a matter of weeks. It's going to take work. Trust the process, and give it time. Also, don't expect results if you don't put in the work.
This is why tracking your progress is important. You might include photos as your track your progress of your body, your running watch (time/workouts, etc), places you run, etc. All of these visual aids will help you as you move forward.
Be realistic. Yes - we all love to dream big. But sometimes, we set goals that are unrealistic for ourselves. Here are a few examples of unrealistic v. realistic goals.
1. "The farthest I've ever ran is 3 miles at 15 minute pace, but I want to nail a Boston Qualifying marathon time next month" - this is pretty unrealistic. Something like this takes a lot of time, training, and dedication.
2. "I just started running and I want to complete a 5k 6 months from now" - this one is realistic. The time frame is adequate, and the person realizes it will take time.
3. "I work 60+ hours per week, volunteer at 3 organizations, hit the gym 5 times per week, and take care of my family. I want to enter an accelerated masters program to finish in half the time." - is this a good idea? If you become tired and burnt out, not only will those you care for begin to suffer, but your mental and physical health will suffer as well.
4. "I want to lose 10 pounds over the next 4 months. I have started exercising, eating healthier, and being more active in general." - this one is realistic (depending upon the weight of the person at the beginning). The person has an idea of what will help them reach their goal, and the time frame is adequate.
Be supportive of the goals of your friends, family, and teammates. Sometimes it's hard for us to realize that not everyone likes the same things we do. What are the goals of your family and friends? Even if you don't understand why someone likes to do 'x', support them. They probably don't know why you'd want to get up at 5am to do speedwork. Help those you love reach their goals. Be supportive and helpful.
It's okay to take a break. Feeling burnt out or worn down? Take a breather. We all need rest days. Stay focused, but allow your body to recover and heal. By taking a break every once in a while, you stop yourself from becoming obsessed, and you're actually better able to reach your goals. That being said, you don't need a break every other day. If you do, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your goals.
Be consistent with your training, though. Taking breaks is important, but don't let "rest days" become a habit.
Believe you can do it. If you think you can't do it, then you won't be able to. Tell yourself you're capable of running a sub 20 minute 5k. Tell yourself you can run that sub 2:00 half. Tell yourself you can make it through vet school. Tell yourself you can get into that masters program. Tell yourself you can get that goal pose in yoga class. Tell yourself you can lift that much weight or do that many pull-ups. Then - work for it.
So - what happens when you achieve your goal? Remember this - the achievement of one goal is just the starting point for the next.
Sometimes our goals can be scary. Take that fear and use it for your benefit.
So - set specific, realistic goals. Find a buddy and keep each other accountable. Track your progress, and visualize what your goal looks like. Remember that it's okay to fail, and that it's also okay to take a break if you need it. Life happens, and no day is perfect. Stay focused on what you want, and stay accountable to yourself as well. Work hard, and when you reach your goal, we'll be here to celebrate with you and help you set your next one.
Let's look at some examples:
General Goal: To lose weight
Specific Goal: To lose weight by incorporating more protein and vegetables into my diet and by eating healthy meals at home at least 5x per week.
General Goal: I want to start a business
Specific Goal: I want to begin selling my art on Etsy
General Goal: I want to exercise more
Specific Goal: I want to run at least 4x per week and attend 1 class at my gym each week
General Goal: I want to find a new job
Specific Goal: I enjoy helping others, and I would like to find a new career in the non-profit realm.
Keep in mind that your goals should motivate you. You should get excited when you read your goal sheet. They should make you want to work, and you should be over the moon when you achieve them. If you dread working toward your goal, you need to rethink.
Remember, life isn't about perfection. It's about effort. When you begin implementing that effort into your life each day, that's when you begin to grow. That's where transformation and change happens. So, keep working and never forget why you started.
Here's to making 2016 your best year yet. Cheers.
Who Picks the Topics?
Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!