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rewarding activity
setting goals
goal setting
milestones
hurry
motivation
perception
rewards
Strike Four And You Are IN! –Running _ Part 2
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Strike Four and You Are IN! –Running _ Part 2

Preface

If you really wish to run, there are four imperatives to which you have to pay special attention. These are: motivation, running attire, goal setting, and, diet and rest. I have called these “strikes”, in recognition of the fact that by not paying sufficient attention to any one of these, you are risking getting the best possible rewards from running, and, that the more of these that you ignore, the more you risk putting yourself altogether out of this rewarding activity we simply call “running” ! It is a lot more than just putting one foot in front of the other at a faster pace than what we call walking. If you do not observe these very special elements, the chances are that you will never make it as a runner!

In Part 1 of this series, following a brief introduction on the whole concept of running, motivation and proper attire for running were discussed. In part 2, goal setting is examined.

Strike Three – Setting Goals.

As a beginner, the first thing you must avoid is overdoing it! Do not let your new found “activity” carry you away – especially if your intention is firstly to lose weight – which understandably, you want to do in a hurry. The thing is, if you start at a frenetic level, without some perception of “mileposts” along the “running” way, there is every chance that you will not make it much beyond the stage at which you are presently!

When you set out on any journey, you usually know where that journey is to end. Along the way, you have “landmarks” or “milestones” which tell you that you are getting towards where you plan to go. They also tell you how far away you are from completing your journey. So it is when you decide to be a runner.

Running is indeed a “journey”, both literally and figuratively - but here we are dealing with running as a journey in a figurative sense – and like any other journey, you have your “mileposts” along the way. The beauty and satisfaction about this however, is, that you not only get to set your journey’s end, but you also get to set you own mileposts which you can move with you along the way! Yes, you will want to know if you are progressing, and if so, how fast.

While you can very early- yes, even now! - set your “final destination” in running – that is going to be an “achievement” in the future so you don’t for now have to be too specific about it. For now however, you have to be careful that in setting the first milestones on your journey, you do not place them too far apart or away from where you are at the moment and have them prove to be beyond your capabilities.

Yes you do have to set some goals or targets over time and along the way, but you have to be very careful here or you might just be taking on too much, and, instead of achieving “progress”, you encounter “problems” – you actually harm yourself and defeat your purpose!

Your goals therefore, will have to be realistic and achievable. They must be set for your own standards, not for anybody else’s! Remember why you are in it in the first place – it is for your benefit – you are running in order to keep fit and healthy, to develop and maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle and to experience that feeling of wellbeing! You are therefore not in a race with anyone else.

The only competition is with yourself, and the greatest victories are those in which we emerge as winners over ourselves instead of victories over others! Therefore, rather than winning “races” with others, give yourself a chance to succeed instead! If you must win, let the winning be against yourself rather than against anyone else! Challenge yourself – don’t throw down the gauntlet for others! If you do throw it, pick it up yourself!

Your goals should be both short term and long term. Your goals for the long term might now be expansive and even have a level of wishful anticipation- but that is in the long term - and reality then will dictate what CAN happen at that time, and the changes that have to, and, can be made, to accommodate this. For the “now” or short term however, where you place your “milestones” and the recognizable forms they take, are extremely important.

For the short term, you must be able to achieve the goals you set, equal or even exceed the targets you undertake. If you are a beginner therefore, almost by definition, these goals have to be in the realm of reality, and must relate to where you can be then (shortly) with respect to where you are (now). This is absolutely necessary for your body as well as for your peace of mind.

Write down these goals and carry out checks against them with respect to what you actually accomplish. Keeping a record of your “runs”, will allow you to analyze how you have improved over the time period of training and you will find it gives you pleasure as you see your improvements! If you set yourself realistic goals in the short term and the long term, it will help you keep motivated and will lead to success. The secret is to build up slowly. You willactually be able to feelyourself getting in shape - becoming fit and healthy!

If you set yourself goals that are VERY far fetched, and if, as a result, you need to increase your energy level and range too rapidly, you will find yourself on a very fast road to serious physical damage and injury! Additionally, your psyche and self confidence might take some blows! Do not set yourself up to fail. Small (incremental) goals, easy (light) targets NOW, lead to bigger (sizable) goals, harder (tougher) targets, LATER!

You should also consider setting your goals under conditions where they are most likely to be achieved. For example, for many, running in the early morning is one of the most difficult things one can do. A great deal of discipline is required here, and when other things, such as the need to go to bed earlier so you can have sufficient amount of sleep (an essentiality!) etc., are taken into consideration, the discipline required to do it almost every morning on every day (you should have rest days!), is beyond the capability of many.

This is especially true for beginning runners, who certainly would not yet have developed the discipline of a seasoned dedicated runner. More often than not, under these conditions, they often run out of will-power and resolve, a long time before they realize and are able to see, the achievement of their running goals.

If you are running for endurance, you should have a good running plan that provides the right mix of running and recovery days and allows your body time to recover and heal. For a beginner, you might consider an easy 2 to 2.5 miles jog, 3 or 4 times per week. For long term goals, as a more advanced runner, you might set a goal at four months time where you would like, say, to be in a half marathon event. You would not worry about the time for the event. Your success is in just completing the event!

Instead of just running and more running, day after day, from week to week, which could become tedious, and decrease motivation, you should do some alternative exercises. Replace one or two runs a week by different types of exercises. This is known as cross training, and can include, e.g. cycling, swimming, mountain hiking, dancing, even the odd dumb bell training, etc.!

This, apart from reducing boredom, will allow you to develop new skills and interests, provide a wider range of socializing while exercising (you would be part of a different group of exercise lovers!), and lead to better overall conditioning and toning of your body as well as your mental conditioning! Furthermore it reduces the chance of injury and gives those muscles which you utilize in running, some necessary recovery time!

Remember too that goal setting is only one element of the quartet, the other three being motivation, running attire and proper dieting. When you have got something to work towards, when you thus challenge yourself, the chances of your keeping on or persevering with your fitness regime and exercise routine, are immensely enhanced. It all adds up to significant gain (despite pain!) in and the maintaining of health and fitness, giving you strength to do your daily activities - and having a much better feeling of well-being in the end because you are keeping fit and healthy!


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