I recently posted about building healthy habits. My habit of focus right now is exercise. I’ll be sure to post later explaining why I chose exercise, but I want to focus on my goals today and the things I’ll be doing to increase my chances of reaching them.
First, I’ve got a “BIG” goal that I am working towards: The Colfax Half Marathon on May 17. I’ve never really run a half marathon before, and I just recently got back into running, so this is a sizable undertaking (About two weeks ago, I finally ran my first 5K with no walking since the baby was born. Yay!).
How am I going to accomplish this? Three main things:
I have a plan. It is not hard at all to find a half marathon plan online. There are dozens. In fact, there may be so many that it’s overwhelming. I’ve decided to go with Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Program. I know so many people who have used Hal’s plans with great success. It is relatively flexible and definitely attainable given my current fitness. It would be easy to bit off more than I could chew if I picked a plan that was more advanced, so in picking a plan, be sure to take a realistic look at where you are. His website is really helpful in suggesting how to assess if you are ready, and, if not, what you can do to get ready.
Once you have a plan, you need to follow it. I’m an expert level plan maker. I can plan ALL DAY LONG. I struggle with execution. That’s where the next two steps come into play.
The right kind of accountability is going to be different for everybody. Some trial and error might be necessary to figure out exactly what works for you, but here are some common places to start:
A buddy: Do you have a friend, spouse, family member who you can share your goal with and who will help you stay on track? I have a friend that is helping me stay accountable. We check in each morning with our progress from the day before and our plan for the day ahead. If we mess up or miss something, we have to fess it up. Not fun. Some people like a “tough love” buddy. Not me. I like a supportive buddy who will reassure me that I can get back on track if I fall down on something. Just knowing that I have to tell her what I did or did not do helps me to be more motivated to follow through on my plan.
Make it public: This is a tough one for me. I hate letting people down, and I often lack confidence, so putting it out there that I’m signed up for this race is scary for me. But, that is exactly what makes it a good accountability technique. So, it’s out there. On Facebook. On Twitter. On this blog. I’m doing it. I’ve even upped the ante by agreeing to race in support of a nonprofit that I support, Environmental Learning for Kids. I REALLY don’t want to let them down, so that gives me even more incentive to succeed.
Experts/Coaches: For a race or other athletic endeavor, it might make sense to sign up with a coach or a running group for motivation. This usually isn’t free, but can be very effective. If you put down cold hard cash for something like this, it can be very motivating. Coaches exist for all sorts of things, so do some googling if you think it might be helpful for you. I’ve found the social atmosphere of running groups really helpful as well.
My big goal is on May 17. That’s over 10 weeks away. 10 weeks is a lot of time. If I were only targeting the end goal, it could be easy to stray off plan by telling myself I have plenty of time. I’ve done this before. It doesn’t work for things like this that require building up of endurance/strength. So, I’m setting interim goals. Weekly and daily. My goal this week is to do all my workouts. Not too bad. My goal today is to run 3 miles and do some strength training. When it is broken up like this, it’s achievable.
I’m also trying to watch what I eat. This isn’t a “new” habit insomuch as it is something I’m being mindful of in relation to my exercise goals. If I eat junk, I feel like junk, and my workouts are harder, making it more difficult to stick with the plan. So, I’m aligning my behaviors outside of my primary goal such that they support it. In talking with my accountability buddy, this combination of behaviors should lead to some weight loss, so we’ve built a “for fun” goal over the next 3 weeks.
So, my March goals are as follows:
- Complete my half marathon training plan workouts each week (see workouts below, I’m already halfway done for the week!)
- Watch what I eat
- Buddy challenge: Lose 5lb by March 24th (3 weeks). If we both do it, we are getting a manicure together as a reward.
Here are this week’s workouts:
- Monday: Strength/stretch (done!)
- Tuesday: Run 3 miles (done!)
- Wednesday: Cross train (done!)
- Thursday: Run 3 miles + Strength Train
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Run 4 miles
- Sunday: Cross train