So, I spent the last 2 Sundays, not relaxing in front of the television, but instead running 13.1 miles of half marathon! The first was the Berkhamsted half, the second was the Silverstone half. I'd reached about 9 miles round silverstone, with my legs burning and every fibre of my being wanting to stop and have a sit down, I tried to occupy my mind and got thinking about what is really needed to reach a fitness goal.
After much pondering, I think I have narrowed it down to the 3 main things you need to use to reach a fitness goal. In this case my goal was running 13.1 miles in under 2 hours, but I think this can be applied to just about any goal, but particularly fitness goals.
Essentially, you need 3 things, and I have put them in order of importance.
Now let me explain what each one means, and why they are in that order!
However you look at it, and whatever your goal is, a brain is the most important attribute you can have to reaching a goal. It doesn't have to be your brain, but whoevers brain you are using they need to make a plan and a strategy. If you take my half marathon as an example. Run 13.1 miles in under 2 hours is the goal. Now I know that I can travel 13.1 miles without the aid of a car, bicycle or any other form of transport, so the distance was not the issue, the issue was how do I do it in under 2 hours? Do I sprint as fast as I can or do I walk? Obviously, neither of these are the correct answer, If I sprint, I'll very quickly exhaust my muscles (a long time before I reach the finish line!) if I walk, I'll run out of time. So having a strategy was really important. The Berkhamsted 1/2 was littered with hills and slopes, and also it was a windy day, so I had to take advantage of the downhills and pick up the pace there, and on the inclines either push a bit harder, or walk a few steps and catch my breath. I knew the last mile of the course was downhill so I should save some energy and then if I need to make up some time, that's where I could put on the burners! Silverstone was a different proposition, as it was almost completely flat so I had to pace myself for the whole circuit. I needed to average 1:40 per km, however I knew I would slow down over the last section, so my strategy was to run a pace of 1:30 for as long as possible so that I would have some time to play with in the closing stages.
My point is that you need a plan, and this is where lots of people fail. Whenever people start chasing a fitness goal, their first port of call is to make big sweeping changes to their lifestyle - we give up everything we enjoy, we hit the gym every day and run on the treadmill or lift those weights until we are red in the race and our muscles are begging for mercy! This of course is the same as me sprinting my marathon. It starts off well, and you make good time, but it just isn't sustainable. Eventually, you will tire, you will cave in to the sugar cravings and the pull of TV. A much better plan is to make small, sustainable changes that slowly become a lifestyle. This is where a coach or personal trainer really has the value. They will be able to tell you what your body can manage, and write you a strategy to follow. We all think we can do it ourselves, but would you try to replace your cars engine? Of course not, you go and see a professional.
This is the second most important thing in reaching your goal, and by this I mean "How much do you really want it?" You can have the best programme in the world, and you can have all of the tools to do the job, but at the end of the day it's you that has to do the work - no one else can help you here, there are no cheats, and there are no short cuts. This became particularly evident at Silverstone for me. 9-10 miles in, I was on course to reach my goal except for one thing. The voice in the back of my head that was telling me to stop. It was relentless, it was incredibly irritating, and it kept getting louder and louder. I had two options, either give in and admit defeat, or block it out and keep going. This will happen to you, you will get the same voice telling you to quit, it will tell you to skip the gym, it will tell you to reach for the biscuits instead of the fruit bowl. and it's only you that can block it out. Listen to your heart and choose what you want most, not what you want now.
This is number 3 on the list, and it is the least important asset because let me tell you something that no-one wants to hear. You have the tools to do the job.
Everyone wants an excuse or a reason why they can't reach their goals - they want to give in to that voice, and the easiest way to do that is by saying "I just don't have what I need to do it" but, you do. The body you have might need some training to get there, but it is everything you need to get it done. In my 10+ years as a personal trainer, I've seen incredible things happen to people who have the brain and heart to reach their goals. You can lose the weight, you can run the distance and you can afford the gym membership. Whatever excuse you think you have, it's all in your head, and I know this because I've heard them all before and I've seen them overcome. It just boils down to 1 thing - how much do you want it?
If you would like some advice on reaching your fitness goal, please get in touch with myself or one of the team at Fitness In Time. We can be your brain, and we can give you the tools, you just need to bring the heart!