The following post is by guest blogger Helene Choo over at the HC Lifestyle Blog! So happy to have her guest posting – she is an emerging leader in the health and lifestyle industry! You can check her out over at www.helenechoo.com. Check out her Bio at the bottom of the page!
I started running in April because I wanted to get healthier and fitter. Running seemed like a great choice as it can be done anywhere and it’s cheap! You need minimal equipment and no membership. I’d always been a “I hate running, it’s so boring” kind of person, so I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned since I started.
Progress is not linear
At the beginning, I improved really quickly. That’s probably because I hadn’t run (properly) before, and I was developing some muscles I lacked. However, after a while, I plateaued and became a bit discouraged with my progress. I thought that if I just kept training at the same regular intervals and adding mileage, I’d keep improving in the same way.
However, that’s not really how it works. Progress may slow or speed up depending on multiple factors including your diet, sleeping patterns, and the overall state of your body.
Be patient with it, and you will improve. It doesn’t really matter how much or little you progress, as long as you keep moving forward.
Always have a goal in mind
I try to sign up for at least one race per month. I don’t always make it because life gets in the way, and that’s ok. The most important thing is to train towards an objective. Even if it’s not a competition or a race, it can be setting yourself the goal to train at least 3 times a week.
Not having a goal leads to abandoning your training when it gets tough or when you hit a low point like a plateau or an injury. Your goal helps you get back on track after you’ve overcome your low point.
Breaks are important
You risk injuring yourself or burning out if you don’t give yourself breaks from time to time. And by breaks, I don’t mean stop exercising, I mean mix high-intensity workouts with low-intensity ones.
I never did any recovery runs at the beginning, I just kept doing the same thing over and over again, which was a big mistake. First of all, you get bored with your runs, and second, you get injured because you keep straining your muscles.
So take it easy. Even if it feels like you’re not improving, you are.
Make it a habit
I recently finished reading Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit”, where he explains the underlying mechanisms of habits, how they’re formed, and how we can change them. One thing that I took from this book is that once a behaviour becomes a habit, it’s so much easier to stick to.
Use the same cue (time of day, day of week, etc.) to trigger the urge to train, and then reward yourself the same way every time (for example, with a smoothie). After a while, your body and mind will come to expect the training and you’ll get an urge to train. Your habit has been formed!
Believe that you can do it
Many people don’t start training because they don’t believe they can go through with it. Well, you can. One of the most important foundations of habit-forming is a strong belief that you can change your behaviour.
You don’t need to believe that you’ll be the best at anything, or that you’ll even be good at it. I ran a below-average time in my first race. It didn’t faze me because my expectation wasn’t to come first, it was to finish the race. And that I did. It gave me more confidence so that I could set my expectations just a little bit higher for next time.
You set your own expectations for yourself. As long as you stay realistic about what you want to achieve, believe in yourself and when you hit that personal milestone, allow yourself to be proud of your achievement and let it fill you with more confidence.
This way, you’ll always be improving at your own pace and doing the best you can. And that’s all anybody can really ask for, isn’t it?
For a free course on how to get fit and healthy, or fitter and healthier, check out helenechoo.com!
I’m Helene, the creator of the HC Lifestyle Blog, where I share my favourite life experiences. I love writing about travel, food, fitness, and many other things. I’m a big believer in trying to live life to the fullest, dancing, and seeing as much of the World as I can.