When you are in training for a big event like the London marathon, it’s easy to start full of enthusiasm but then lose a bit of motivation along the way.
That’s a great time to re-focus on your goals to spur you on.
Your end goal, of course, may have been the ultimate, big one…”I am going to run the London marathon”. It may have simply been to complete it, which is a huge feat in itself! Or it may have been with a specific time in your sights.
Maybe your main motivator was “I want to get fitter’ or “I want to lose weight”.
But, it helps to have smaller goals along the way, as sometimes the end goal can seem way out of reach which is demotivating. So, it’s worth setting some mini-goals too.
You may have heard of SMART goals…but we can make them even SMARTER…..
Goals need to be specific, and I think they also need to be small, so you can achieve and build. They may be time-specific or distance specific. Hopefully you have a training schedule that factors those in. Review it, and make sure it still fits the bill. Be careful with weight-specific goals as you may be building muscle which weighs more than fat…so it may not show on the scales.
Can you measure your goals easily? Time and distance are easy if you have a tracker.
If your ultimate goal is fitness, your tracker may also be able to show if your heart rate is lowering – usually, the fitter you are, the lower your heart rate in response to exercise and when resting. Or it may be able to show how much better you are sleeping. Even using a simple 1-5 rating of daily positivity can spur you on, as we know that exercise boosts mood. It’s easy to forget how far you have come – record any progress, however trivial it may seem, as it soon adds up and reminds you of your achievements along the way.
There’s no point in having a goal that you are never going to achieve, so ensure that you are being realistic in your mini-goal setting. If you know you have a tiring week at work, cut yourself some slack, and set yourself some stretching exercises, or other less strenuous but still useful goals. Otherwise, you set yourself up for failure and that’s demotivating.
Of course, any goals you set, to keep you on track towards your ultimate goal, need to be relevant. Review your progress and see whether you need to focus on more distance, more sprint work for heart and breathing or more stretching to reduce risk of injury. Alternatively, you may need to focus on better nutrition, more sleep, less alcohol or other general health goals.
You need to set a time limit for achieving these mini-goals or they can drift. Ensure you have a clear deadline (but make sure it’s attainable!).
That’s SMART goals sorted…but if you really want to succeed, make them SMARTER!
Make your goals enjoyable and they’re far easier to achieve. It certainly helps when the weather is improving and the days are getting longer. Can you enlist a friend to pound the pavements with you? Can you have fun trying out new, healthy recipes with the family that will boost your nutrients and make training easier?
Training for a big event like the London Marathon has rewards in itself, like getting healthier by reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, some sorts of cancer and more. Also, by getting mentally fitter – boosting dopamine, endorphins and reducing stress. And then, doing it for charity does good for others. It even adds extra health benefits to those contributing, due to the feel-good factor it provides. But there’s no harm in motivating yourself with extra rewards or treats, whenever you achieve these smaller goals. Something you would like, but you wouldn’t normally spend time or money on – a spa treatment, a cinema trip, some new clothes, a good book.
If your motivation is flagging, now is a good time to review and re-set yourself towards your main goal!