Monday, May 20, 2013

Using goals as motivation

I had planned a completely different post today but then on the spur of the moment, I decided to go for a run and came up with this post as I was suffering!

It is really humid here today and I did not sleep well because of it.  This morning I cleaned the house and started laundry as quickly as possible so that I could head out to the porch where it was more pleasant. 

Although I'm not very strict with my exercise schedule, I do have a basic order for my workouts.  Today I thought I was going to do that dreadful elastic band workout again.  The idea of heading into the family room did not appeal to me at all.  Then I considered doing some weight training since that is in the basement where it is a little cooler.  As I sat there thinking about these options, I noticed that it was actually pretty nice outside.  That's when it hit me - I should run outside today. 

I'm working on running longer and longer each time and I was afraid that if I ran outside, I would run at too fast of a pace and wouldn't be able to match my last time.  After a few minutes, I decided it was worth giving up all my monitoring to just get a run in so I headed out to our local park/lake.  The last bit was a big push for me (at one point it felt like I was running in place) but I ended up running 25 minutes straight and about 2.25 miles.  I walked the rest of the way and ended up going 45 minutes and about 3.6 miles.  Hurray!

During the run I was thinking about my whole new outlook the last week or so.  I finally realized that the change came around the same time that I decided to run an upcoming 5K in August. 

There are several important things to keep in mind when setting a goal.  First it should be a challenge but still be achievable and something you have control over.  My goal is to run the entire 5K.  I have a general time in mind but the main goal is just to not walk.  The goal also has to be measurable so that you know when you've achieved it.  Finally, it needs to be specific.  I want to run an organized 5K.  Originally I had planned to just run 5K but when I changed it to a named race, it gave me more focus. In my case I picked a specific race for proving that I've achieved my goal. 

These guidelines can be followed for any goal.  But for me, there have been some additional steps that have made me more focused and dedicated to reaching my goal.  I've had the idea of running a 5K in my mind for awhile but I became much more committed when I started telling people about it.  First I told my daughter and husband, and then this last weekend my best friend.  Knowing that there are people out there expecting me to complete this race in August not only got me up off the chair this morning, but kept me running until I reached my 25 minutes this morning (I really wanted to stop at around 21 minutes!).

I've also found it helpful to vary my training.   This is a good idea for any physical activity so that you improve your overall fitness and not just one specific aspect but for me it has also helped me focus more on each run.  Since I'm now only running 3 times a week, I really try to make each run productive.

Finally I've started logging my workouts.  I'm the kind of person who is motivated by lists and checking items off those lists!  Since I've started recording my workouts on Twitter, I'm more likely to workout every day.  Yesterday my husband had a race so we were gone all day and I didn't work out (although I did quite a bit of walking!).  I really didn't want to have two days in a row without a workout so that was extra motivation to get up and do something today.

Although my main goal is running right now, I think these ideas can help with anything.  For example, if you want to write a book, tell people about it, record how many pages you write a day, and take time to work on other writing projects to give yourself a break from the book.

These pictures have nothing to do with this post except that they were taken today right before I went for my run.  It is so beautiful, I couldn't resist including it.