Friday, February 10, 2012

Making Progress

The other day I was chatting with someone at work about working out and staying fit, and getting/staying motivated. I'm relatively competitive with myself and want to do better than I did before. I often compare myself to others, and while I don't usually feel "down" if I'm not as good as they are, it does usually get me thinking about how to get better. Those are my primary motivators.

That, I assume, doesn't work for everyone. I usually tell people that the way to stay motivated is to have concrete goals. And usually this is in the form of some sort of event. In my opinion having a hard target on the calendar is probably the best motivator to just get out there. Now I'm not saying that you should sign up for the next 5k and set your sights on winning, or setting a new personal best time. But I am saying that for many signing up will be enough motivation to at least go out on your own a bunch of times between now and then so you at least feel like you've given it some sort of effort. It may peter off a little, but then you sign up for the next one and the process starts again. It's fun, or at least it should be fun, if it's not fun, stop thinking about it, because it's supposed to be fun :)

Then today I got to thinking, there's a small flaw in this little plan, not everyone's going to want to sign up for a race every month. Maybe they don't like racing, maybe they can't afford it, maybe they don't do triathlons in the middle of winter in Minnesota. I'm sitting here thinking, here I am, middle of February, shooting for a goal of a first race at (hopefully) full race pace all the way in May... What keeps me going?


Step 1 - Go

Workout Schedule January - February
I'm going to give myself some credit, this is a pretty decent looking schedule.
  • Blue is running
  • Red is biking
  • Yellow is swimming
I could show you December's calendar, but it's easier to just say, it's sparse. November, even more sparse, October, blank. So, just that fact that I'm getting out there and doing stuff is a motivator.

Step 2 - Acknowledge Improvement

A tale of two runs - same course
These two runs say two things
  1. I'm running faster 
  2. My body isn't working as hard to maintain that faster speed as it was to go slower
I can now run the same distance I ran before in less time, and feel less tired when I'm done. A little secret about the run on the right? It's a recovery run, I stopped to walk for a minute in the middle. Not so on the left.

One more - because it makes me feel good
Two more runs - different courses
These two runs are pretty similar, similar pace, similar effort. The difference? The one on the left was run at the end of last season heading into a 10k PR, the one on the right was last week a full 2 months before the season starts.

Final Thoughts
Stuff like this keeps me going. I've established goals for this year (here, and here, and probably some other places), I took some time off so I would appreciate the effort I'm putting out there (here - again, and here and I probably droned on about it at the end of last year) and refresh my brain.

So food for thought, if you're having trouble keeping going, just do the steps

1. Go (and recognize that's better than not going)
2. Acknowledge Improvement
3. Rinse and Repeat
4. Reap the rewards

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