If you've been reading my blog for a while, or know me at all, you'll know I love fitness. I haven't forever though, and I have been through periods over the years where I've given up and lost motivation. I have figured out how my mind works now, and I know I need motivation in the form of clear goals with rewards when I reach them. When I was in school I was desperate for those gold star stickers and nothing has changed for me as an adult. I need to know I'm progressing, I need to know I'm doing well. I have tools to help track my progress. I have a section of my planner pages where I record my workout for the day, I have a calendar where I colour in the days where I've done exercise, I give myself real rewards when I reach a milestone - whether that's a nice meal out or a nice activity. I think the reward is just as important as reaching the goal and it motivates me to keep going. Just like I set goals for my business so I know what I'm working towards, I need the same clear and specific goals in fitness. I've been asked a number of times when I'm at the gym what it is that I'm training for. Life. That's all. I don't have an event I'm training for, I just want to feel better, feel happier, and be more capable in my every day life. I don't want market season, where I'm lugging loads of heavy stuff around, to leave me with a sore back for days on end. I don't want shifting furniture around to be such a drag. I want to make sure I'm keeping active so I'm feeling better in mind and body. Fitness has been a big thing for my mental health. It really picks me up when I'm down and helps me feel more ready and able to deal with what comes my way. I thought that as I've had lots of questions about this lately, I'd share Three Fitness Goals I've Been Working On.
Deadlift 100kg by end of 2018. At the end of 2017 I started thinking about goals I wanted to set myself for the upcoming year. I hadn't been deadlifting and I knew it was an exercise I wanted to add in to my workout. I worked out a plan of how I would increase the weight and set Thursday as Deadlift Day. My focus on a Thursday would be increasing weight on my deadlifts while working on other exercises. I would start by warming up at a comfortable weight and building it up. Thursday 3 May looked like this:
- jog to gym
- 5 min spin bike sprint and climb warmup
- 4 x 50kg deadlift
- 4 x 70kg deadlift
- 8 x band assisted pull ups
- 8 x press ups
- 8 x split squats
- 4 x 80kg deadlift
- 4 x 90kg deadlift
- 2 x 95kg deadlift
- 8 x band assisted pull ups
- 8 x press ups
- 8 x split squats
- 8 x 100kg deadlift!!!
Wow. OK. So it was May and I'd hit my deadlift goal. I remember having thought that getting to 100kg by the end of the year was going to be a big challenge, and I was worried I wouldn't manage it. OK, so I increased my rest times in between sets and even in between lifts. But when I did it? I DID IT. I did 8! Not just 2 as I'd had planned. Not just 4 but 8. Before you go thinking this was some sort of pro plan, please know it wasn't and I make up my own workouts without having professional experience. There may have been better ways of doing it, sure. But what I did worked for me. I simply increased the weight by a little bit each week. I focused on my form so I didn't injure myself. As soon as I hit that, that was quite exciting. I need to figure out what my next deadlift goal is going to be. Maybe 2x bodyweight? I've started focusing my efforts on back squats now and am doing lighter deadlifts for a bit (doing a warmup and then 3 or 4 sets of 8 @ 80kg)
- Run 10 miles by October. In October 2017 my friend Lucy came to visit me from Bristol and we went for a run together. I hadn't been running. I really enjoyed that run. Like, a lot. We did about 5k worth of intervals on the seafront one hot, misty October Saturday night. I loved it so much it gave me the bug and I kept running. I run regularly, usually a couple times a week. I run on my own, with friends, as part of GoodGym and I regularly take part in Parkrun. In fact, one of my extra goals was to run 10 Parkruns in 2018. I've just run Parkrun #19, so I guess I smashed that one too. Oh and I wanted to run 262 miles in 2018, the equivalent of 10 marathons. Finished that one off yesterday. How did I set my running goals? I decided that I wanted to take part in the Great South Run. I knew that was 10 miles, and I thought that I could manage to get my mileage up to 10 miles by October. I would celebrate my year as a runner by running 10 miles with thousands of other people. It was a local race. I knew there were jelly babies involved. I'd been told by lots of my running friends that if I could run 7.5 miles (which I could at that point) then I could definitely run the 10. I was convinced I could do it. And then I went ahead and spontaneously booked tickets for Wild & Well Festival with my aforementioned pal who gave me the running bug, Lucy. It's a weekend of outdoor exercise, talks, fun fitness (a Spin class set to headline DJs?! Jungle Runners? Silent Disco Woodland Workouts?! Wild Animal Bootcamp? Foraging? Survival Skills?!) Oh and it's the same weekend as the Great South Run which I hadn't checked before booking. So, I won't be running the Great South Run this year, but maybe next? And maybe it'll be more comfortable for me? I'm still going to push on for my 10 mile goal. I'm at 9.4miles currently, so I think I've got that. I might consider looking for other races around here that are in the 10 miles - half marathon range. Of course, the natural progression - once I hit the 10 mile goal, half marathon is the next goal distance. Running is hard. I did my 9.4 miles in 29 degree weather, and it was roasting. It was hard going but it was totally worth it. When I started I couldn't even run a full mile without stopping to catch my breath and feeling like everything in my body was screaming. Running makes me feel great. I remember when I first started I couldn't quite understand how people did it to relax. I found it so hard, but I wanted to push myself. I also needed to do more cardio, and cardio in the gym is boring. That first run I did where I got into the zone and just enjoyed what I was doing and time flew by and miles flew by and all of a sudden as I started at the most beautiful sunrise I could understand why people did it. I could see. I could feel it. Running is still hard now, but I have more moments of enjoyment than not.
- Exercise 3-4 days a week. I mentioned the calendar I have for colouring in when I exercise. I try have two rest days a week so I can get my body repaired and ready for more. I end up exercising more like 5 or 6 days a week sometimes, but only when I feel I can. I don't want to push it. So far, I've not missed a week of 3-4 days, even when I've been away from home I've packed my running gear so I can run some unfamiliar roads. One of my favourite runs so far this year? On a holiday in Cornwall, my friend dropped me at the base of Kit Hill Incline - I tried my best to run to the top (I did have to walk a bit of it though as it was really steep!) Once I got to the top I enjoyed the view for a moment and then ran down around the paths to the bottom. Running down those trails was super fun and a brilliant way to kick off a day of sunshine and surfing. It made me realise I definitely want to do some trail running, so that's next on the list!
How do you stay motivated with a fitness plan? How do you monitor your progress? How do you reward yourself? How do you set goals? Have you got any tips for me? I'd love to hear them!