It’s not so much that I love the act of running as that I love what it does for me – the health benefits of building bone, strengthening my heart, clearing my arteries, keeping my brain sharp – and the lifestyle benefits of staying fit for travel, for building stamina for long trips, for climbing up to the top of perched villages or the steep escalators of the Q train!
One thing that personally motivates me to go for a run is that I get to mark the day with a big red “RUN” on my calendar. It’s like getting a star on your homework! Keeping track of your workouts – on a calendar, in a journal, or on a digital device – can boost your results, as told here by two real-life success stories.
One of the best I've heard comes from Fern:
"My level of fitness compared to last year is much improved. I got really frustrated last year with the changes in my body and at some point, gave up. Now I do three 45-minute interval workouts a week, walk at least 30 minutes per day (on my non-interval days) and strength train at least three times a week. I've noticed that my posture is better as well. Of course, I must watch what I eat. I still keep my journal and do a weekly assessment of my workouts and my diet. The journal is a very important part of maintaining my health and fitness."
It's only natural to want to give up sometimes. As Dr. Alvin said to me last week, "I hit the wall but pushed through." How did he do it? He keeps a daily chart of his workouts, including time spent and calories burned, and food intake. Once a week, he and I review his progress together. Knowing that he's accountable keeps him motivated. Keeping a log, journal or tracking app to chart your progress every day will help you stay on track for the long term.
Use this tip yourself: Create a fresh start for the fall. As we approach the beginning of September, create objectives that you would like to achieve over the next month. Think of a challenge that is a bit of a stretch, but within reach.
- It could be something simple, like doing 15 kitchen counter pushups every other day or building up to a 60-second forearm plank.
- It might be to establish a regular habit of doing 30 minutes of moderate cardio activity most days of the week.
- It could be something daring like adding some high-intensity intervals into your usual cardio routine or trying something outside your comfort zone like taking a spin or a dance class.
- Try a new perspective on your strength training routine. Use “ladders” to give your usual bodyweight workout a boost: Do a series of exercises in a row with an increasing number of repetitions in each set. For example, squats, push-ups, and lunges would be performed as a set that builds in a sequence of 4-6-8-10 repetitions. And then work down the ladder!
Stick with your plan by writing down your daily and weekly achievements. It's one way to ensure that you'll meet your goals and be in better shape over time. Please let us hear from you here as to how you choose to stay on track!