It's the start of the year, notoriously the time when people set big goals. Unfortunately though, the stats on how many people go on and conquer their objectives don't make for great reading. There are however simple strategies you can adopt to increase your chances of success. Here are 6 of those systems, so that you can look back at 2018 with elation rather than regret:
Choose a realistic objective - You want your goal to be challenging, but you also want it to be obtainable. Whilst I'm all for being positive, setting a target that's simply out of reach will lead to disappointment and discouragement when it's not achieved, which may result in quitting altogether. Therefore, it's really important to be honest with yourself, decide what's a demanding but achievable objective, and go for it.
Have a plan - It sounds so obvious, but without a plan you're missing a vital ingredient. I've certainly been guilty of training randomly in the past, where I've booked in a race and week by week trained when I can and by doing a random session made up on the spot. It simply doesn't work and I've fallen short of race targets several times due to a lack of structure. Make sure you have a plan written down so that you know what you're about to do every time you lace up. Then after your session, note down what you did in order to track your progress. For a video on how I lay out my training plans, please click here.
Play the long game - Having been in the fitness industry for many years now, I've seen the following so many times. An individual hasn't been training as much as they'd hoped to for some time and all of a sudden they set themselves a big goal. They come to me to discuss their approach and they're extremely keen. Their intention is to go all in, train for an hour or two several times a week and crush it! Whilst their enthusiasm is admirable, the reality is if they do too much, too soon, they're either going to lose interest or get injured. I therefore always recommend playing the long game. Rather than starting out hell for leather and falling short, take small steps and chip away at your goal meeting milestones along the way. It won't be plain sailing, there'll be ups and downs, but in time it'll all be worth it.
Write specific goals down - Having clarity and knowing exactly what you want to achieve is essential to reaching your aims. When goal setting, be sure to write them down and be specific. Having a note on your fridge stating 'I will run a sub 25 minute parkrun by May' is far more likely to bring results than just having 'I'll improve my running this year' in your head.
Don't over complicate things - Life is already extremely busy for most people with work, family and social commitments. If you've set yourself a big running goal for this year, try to keep things as simple as possible and don't plan to do anything major that's going to require lots of energy and cause unwanted stress at the same time as this will almost certainly be detrimental to your training progress. I recently read the excellent book 'The One Thing' by Gary Keller and the quote on the first page sums things up nicely:
Become accountable - We're human. At some point, it's likely that willpower will be low and you'll want to call it a day. That's when it's crucial to have someone that you're accountable to, who you can't let down. Finding a running buddy or joining a running club could really boost your motivation levels. Or you could of course look to work with a coach. For more information on the one to one work I do, please click here.
By Marc Brown