Headsweats Ambassador Linda Nguyen shares her tips for maintaining motivation after the New Year slump. For more from Linda, follow her on instagram @runtrilinda
It’s February and the novelty of the new year has officially disappeared. Your holiday decorations are taken down, you’ve gotten used to writing 2018 on everything, and everybody is back to work. Maybe something else has changed that you might not want to admit: the excitement of keeping your athletic goals for 2018. While it’s really easy to dream up of the biggest and best goals, it’s often a lot harder to keep working towards them. So here are some tips and tricks I’ve found to be really helpful to get over the slump.
Every really big dream starts with one small change. If your goal is to become an Ironman by the end of the year, work your way up to it. Sign up for a sprint, Olympic, and half distance to lead you up to the full. If you want to become a full marathoner, sign up for a 10k and a half marathon to ease yourself in. And when you’re overwhelmed with the loads on the training plans? Just remember to take it one day at a time. Every training session is essentially preparing you for the next day’s training session. Don’t overwhelm yourself by looking ahead. I personally freak myself out when my coach sends me my plans because I honestly do not think I can get the mileage done. But when you realize how much work you’ve put in the previous days and weeks, you realize that you can take on the challenge. So start small and know that every step is taking you to where you want to be… which takes me to my next point.
Set yourself up for success.
Starting small helps to set you up for success. The feeling of accomplishment, no matter how big or small the goal, helps build the confidence everyone needs to get things done. If you’re running for the first time in years, it’s not the best idea to set your sights on a very fast pace, for a very long run. Even for seasoned athletes who have taken breaks know that sometimes you need to scale back your pace and distance to rebuild. When you’re starting something new or returning from a hiatus, make sure you set out to do what you can accomplish, and slowly increase from there.
What’s worse than starting too big? Having to start over and over again. Training is sort of like moving a large boulder – it’s really hard to initiate the movement and get the momentum. But once you have the motion, you’re just rolling from there. When you’re not consistent with your goals, you have to get the movement and momentum started every single time. Every step, mile, training session counts because it builds for the next day, and the coming week, and the following months. But when it’s stopped abruptly, you’ll find it harder to pack your gym bag, and to lace up your shoes. Consistency creates momentum which will soon become habit.
Know yourself and believe in your power.
Goals can drift off because we’re too intimidated to start or continue because everyone around us is faster, stronger, or fitter and we just don’t seem like we can amount to that. The beauty of racing (at least as an age-grouper) is that when it comes to race morning, it’s you vs. the clock. No one else matters. You have more power than you realize and if you truly believe in yourself, your training, and all the skills you have strengthened and developed, then you will soon see that you are unstoppable.
Good luck with the rest of 2018. I hope you crush all your goals. And if you don’t, I still hope you can smile along the way and know that you always gave it your all.