Making a Habit of it.

MTB Event

Exercise is a funny thing. Some of us hate it, some of us can’t get enough of it. It’ll soon be the New Year and people all over will be making plans to do more of it. If your New Year’s Resolution is to get fit, what’s the secret and how do you stick with it?

You really need to make a habit of it. We all know what its like, the first couple of sessions feel horrible and hard work, but the next few actually start feeling good as you get used to it and start improving. After 6 or 7 sessions though you hit a plateau and the excitement and enjoyment start to wane. You then miss a session because its raining, you have a cold or some other commitment gets in the way. You then do a couple more sessions but something else comes along and you miss another, then another and before you know it you are back doing nothing again.

So what do you do to make sure you stick at it?

Make a Plan.

Having a plan of action can help.

Rather than just going out for a run or a swim when you feel like it, sit down, work out your weekly routine and decide when you can fit some training sessions in. Maybe a lunchtime swim a couple of times a week, or cycle to work instead of driving. Once it’s written down and becomes part of your weekly routine it is easier to stick to it.

Better still, tell others of your plan, post it on your blog, publicise it on Facebook, tell us here. The more people that know of your plans, the more encouraged you’ll be to stick to them.

Keep a Diary

Keep a record of what you actually do. There are loads of software applications out there that will help you with this and chart your progress. Not only does it allow you to see if you have been keeping to your plan, but you can see improvements as they happen which will help with motivation.

Couple this with a GPS and Heart Rate Monitor and you can have a really interesting and fun way of analysing your performances. I have written review of Training Software for Macs and you can now even get apps for your iPhone that will do much of this. Keep fit and geek out at the same time!

Train with Others – Join a Club

Training with others has to be the best way to keep you motivated. If you aren’t feeling like an exercise session today, the fact that you’ve made arrangements to meet someone else and would let them down if you didn’t turn up will get you out there. Once you’ve done it you’ll be glad that you did.

Joining a club that meets every week at set times is also a good way to start making a habit of exercise. This goes back to ‘making a plan’ and having set times each week where you do certain types of training. Being part of a club is also a great excuse for a bit of socialising. Being around others who train regularly will encourage you to get out more. Their enthusiasm for sport will rub of on you. The added motivation of a bit of competition is also a great aid to spurring you on to do a little more.

Award Yourself

Award yourself with a meal out or something else nice if you stick to your plans and achieve your goals. Maybe a new pair of running shoes or something new for your bike. The award acts as an incentive for sticking with your plans and the new toy encourages you to get out there more.

Spice it up

Variety is the spice of life, so keep yourself motivated by spicing it up a bit. Instead of running your usual routes, head off to the hills, the woods, the beach or somewhere new for a run. Encourage others out to join you. Try some interval training or something a little different now and then.

Running Event

Enter an Event

There’s nothing like having a specific event to train for to focus the mind and make you get out there. There are countless numbers of running events, triathlons, duathlons, mountain biking events and much more to choose from. Most are inexpensive to enter and make for a great weekend away. Look through the listings, choose something you’d like to do, get together with some friends and enter. You won’t regret it.

If you do these things and manage to stick with it, before you know it your training sessions won’t just be a few random runs or swims, but you’ll have a structured training program and most importantly it will become a habit.

Habits are difficult to break so making a habit of exercise is a good thing. Just make sure it doesn’t become an obsession!

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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