Setting realistic fitness goals and achieving them
Make your goals achievable
Having made the decision that you want to get fit, the next step is to set a goal or target that you want to achieve. That can be anything from losing weight, toning up or competing in your first triathlon. However it is hugely important to be realistic when you embark on this fitness journey.
No matter how much willpower you have, if you are too ambitious your campaign will most likely flounder on the rocks of disappointment. If you are more realistic, practical and philosophical about your lifestyle and your previous fitness experience, then you have every chance of success.
Setting a realistic fitness goal
The most popular acronym when it comes to fitness goal-setting is SMART. This relates to setting targets that are smart, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time bound. In other words think carefully about what you want to achieve. Have a sensible specific aim – a certain race distance or a specific target weight you want to reach.
Don’t pick something random that is unrealistic. If you have never run a step in your life, a sub-4 hour marathon in four months’ time is not likely. But a 5k or even a 10k race in that time frame is certainly something to aim for instead.
Have a clear objective in terms of what you are looking for. Is it enough to complete a race distance or are you looking for a certain time? Also, setting a time frame in which to achieve your goal is vital. If you are vague about when you want to accomplish your aims, your training will take on the same lack of focus. Know what you want to achieve, how you want to do it and by when and you are in with a great chance of accomplishing your goals.
It’s also really important to choose an activity/sport that appeals to you and your personality type. You have to enjoy the next few weeks/months of your life and if you hate your chosen activity, there is little chance you will complete your training programme. Think carefully about your fitness background. What kind of sports/activities have you enjoyed before? Have you ever undertaken a similar challenge before and if so what happened? Have you ever run or swum more than a short distance? All of these factors will inform your target-setting and help you choose wisely.
Make your fitness plan progressive
Within your long-tem plan it will help to have several smaller targets to aim for because a progressive plan is always the best way to keep you motivated and inspired. For instance if you are choosing to try and run a half marathon from scratch, the obvious incremental stages are a 5k first, building up to a 10k and then ultimately moving on to the half marathon distance.
The whole process from start to finish might take 6 months, but within that time period you will have the satisfaction of completing mini stages with your first 5k, then a 10k before moving on to your ultimate goal. From a physical perspective this will allow you to develop your fitness methodically as well as keeping you mentally fresh. It also avoids the temptation to throw yourself into a challenge too quickly where burnout can await the over-zealous competitor.
Remember to reward yourself when you do achieve one of your objectives. It is great for morale when you achieve something and even better to celebrate it with one of your favourite treats. That alone is incentive to keep coming back for more!
Keep a fitness diary
Writing down or recording your fitness goals can make the commitment you make to getting fit seem even more formal. It bestows your objective with an official air of agreement and that can make all the difference between sticking at it and caving in.
It’s also a great idea to take that one step further and keep a diary or blog or use an online fitness tracker to record your progress. It’s a terrific way of monitoring what you’ve done so far as well as keeping tabs on where you need to go next.
Have a training schedule
Being able to fit the training into your lifestyle is essential if you are to reach your target. If you work shifts or anti-social hours you have to find a way of scheduling your workouts to fit around your work and commit to doing your workouts/training at those allotted times.
A structured plan is easier to follow and harder to ignore. If you know you should be training at a certain time, you are much more likely to do it. If your plans are vague, then it just makes it easier to skip a session. Then one session becomes two and then three and before you know it, a week or two has gone by and you haven’t done any training towards your goal.