It is all very well to start a new challenge or goal but sticking at it and staying motivated is a completely different matter. Most of the time we really have to use our will power as we would much rather be doing something else. Here are some tips I have picked up along the way to help keep stay motivated.
How to Stay Motivated
1. First of all you should set yourself some clear goals. These should be SMART – Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. You need to think about what you are going to do and why you are going to do them. Think both in terms of long and short term goals.
For me with running I just wanted to show my children that actually you should do some exercise, that is essential to a healthy lifestyle. I wanted to do it regularly so it was just normal to them and not something they have to battle with. I also wanted to improve and make them proud of me – and not just think of me as someone who does not go out the house to work! Long term I would like to be able to run a marathon (no matter how slowly) but my real goal is still just that my children are active without struggling. To keep me going I have short term goals – with a few races booked up, a Ministry of Running 500 mile challenge for the year (I get a virtual medal) and am doing #RedJanuary (be active every day in January for MIND) and Race at your Pace (which I opted for doing 50 miles in January).2. Monitor Your Progress. Whatever it is you want to achieve you should have some sort of device or tool to record what you are doing – so that you can see how far you have come and how far you have yet to go. If you keep a journal it helps you focus and to think about what you want to achieve. Set goals for the day, the week and the month. Asking someone to make you accountable (see below) and think about the metrics to track and log this goal.
Obviously I am recording my runs on my Garmin – but I also want to keep a note of my running totals where I don’t have to connect up my Garmin to my computer. I want to see how much I am running every week and month – this will also let me see what I have left to go for the yearly total. As my goal is also about my children they also have fitness trackers now so I can see how much they are progressing in terms of daily fitness (they are keen to tell me how many steps they have done) as well as seeing their Parkrun times (see my previous post on should children take part in Parkrun). A journal can also keep track of the types of run you have done (off-road/hills/speed/interval) and any injuries you may have suffered – and which stretches seemed to have helped.3. Get rid of distractions. Whatever it is that’s stopping you reaching your goal get rid of it. Whether it is time because you are on your phone too much, excess food calling you, or that badly fitted bra – don’t let them be the excuse you are looking for and eliminate them. This may be that you need to set things up the night before, or plan in advance (such as getting running kit ready or planning your meals).
For me this includes making sure that my running kit is ready (including any extra layers I will want to take off whilst running – and where to put my phone/keys – and any lights required). If I am tracking my running I will also make sure my Garmin is charged – and on my own my headphones also. If I am running with my club I also need to ensure I have the money to pay too.
4. Accountability. Telling other people you are going to do something and when helps make you stay focus and determined. First to yourself – which brings you back to reminding yourself of your goals – the why you want to do this, and how important it is to you. Then to other people: You don’t want to be known as the person who never keeps their word or fails at things do you? Get yourself a supportive partner and do it together – but be careful not to match up with someone who has the same struggles that you will both find excuses as to why it is okay to fail/give up.
For me this is signing up for races (where I also get a medal and/or t-shirt as an incentive too) – and tell people that I am going to do them; regularly go to Parkrun (even when I am hungover to keep telling myself that I can do it, and if I make excuses not to go then so will my children); book in to go to running club (and eat lots of nice foods still so I know that I cannot afford not to go weight-wise!) and agree to go out running with others.
5. Eliminate the option not to do it. Make the decision in advance that you are 100% committed to achieving your goal with backing out not being an option. This could because someone else is relying on you or that financially you cannot afford to back out now (such as spending the week’s food shopping on healthy food).
For me last year not only did I sign up early for a race but I convinced others to do it too – dressed as Disney Princesses – there was simply no way I could just back out at the last minute! The other reason I couldn’t back out of last year’s half marathon was because I was being sponsored for The Roses Theatre.
6. Avoid Fatigue. It is best to do the most challenging thing in the morning. Spend 5 minutes telling yourself you will do something to help get you going. Drink and eat (healthily) regularly.
Running makes me quite tired, even short distances so I am a big fan of the power nap, and pleased to see many Spa Breaks incorporating them into their facilities. I do usually try to also eat better when I am in a more fitness-kind of mind, but this lack of sugary products can make me feel really unenergetic. But did you know that 2 in 3 UK adults cite tiredness as their number one health concern1, with over half (52%) of UK adults admit they cancel or avoid social engagements due to feeling too tired, meaning many miss out or say no to trying new experiences (42%), meeting new people (35%) and spending time with friends and family (28%)2: So I am not alone! To help overcome this I simply dissolve one of Berocca’s new blackcurrant flavor tablets into a glass of water for a great tasting drink that makes me feel like me on a good day!
Berocca is packed full of 8 B vitamins including vitamins B1 and B2 which work with your body to release your natural energy, Berocca Blackcurrant offers the same great benefits as the original, helping to reduce tiredness (because it contains vitamins B6 and B12 which, along with vitamin C, which can each help to reduce tiredness and fatigue); release energy (because it contains vitamins B1 & B2 that help naturally release energy) and supports mental performance (because it contains vitamin B5 which contributes to mental performance).
7. Forgive your failures. Everyone makes mistakes or doesn’t succeeded from time to time but don’t let this be your excuse to quit! Just pick yourself up and commit to doing better. I believe that meditation is good for this – and I swear by Yoga Nidra (just do a search on YouTube and drift off to sleep!).
I planned to run every day in January and I don’t know what happened yesterday (I know I struggle on Wednesdays – even my Garmin has picked up on this!!!) but I just didn’t end up running for one reason or another. I just told myself that the actual challenge was to be active – and I had been. That I wasn’t going to let it stop me considering that I was still going to run in every day in January apart from that one. That it was still possible to reach my 50 mile goal.
So I’m still hungover and hubby said why not just run 2 miles tomorrow. But I’m like it’s only a mile – no excuses. So I’d happily done half a mile and I’m like uh oh my stomach can’t handle this and walked a little, then ran a bit, then felt sick and walked and kept doing this until I got to 1.5 miles. Tmi but I was poorly when I got home. But I have done day 1 of #redjanuary and it can only get easier because I’m not going to be drinking!
8. Don’t compare to others. It is great to join support groups and help each other out but do not feel that someone else is better than you, finding it easier than you, more natural than you – it is your journey not theirs. Tell yourself that you CAN do it; that you WILL stick to it (this time) and you will most definitely put yourself first because YOU are important.
Tell me in the comments what you do to stay motivated – or what does the voice in your head tell you to put you off?
This is a collaborative post. Opinions are honest and my own.