1. Take baby steps.
How do you eat an elephant – One bite at a time.
Every Ironman finisher, Comrades runner e.t.c. started somewhere. Their first run, ride or swim probably did not go that well, however they were able to take baby steps and keep moving until they got fit and strong enough for their goal event.
The same truths apply for eating more healthily. Cut down on sugars, increase your intake of vegetables, change white bread for whole wheat bread, take small progressive steps.
2. Concentrate on short term goals.
If you are out of shape and a bit unfit, come up with a way of getting fit. We never advise new runners to train for distance. It’s best to train for time in the beginning. Start getting out for 15 minutes. Run for a while and then walk and repeat again. You are already at the stage of exercising more than most. After a few weeks increase your time to 20 minutes. Your next goal might be to complete a 5 km fun run, then a 10 km race. Given enough time you will find yourself crossing the finish line of a half marathon. Every year after the Comrades you will come across people who vow to run it the next year. Most don’t. The ones that do, decide to run a 5 k race first.
3. Keep track of your progress.
Keep a log, measure your waist, take a picture of yourself on the first day of every month. A lot of runners will do a time trial on a regular basis to track how they improve speed wise.
4. Embrace your new life style.
The more you read the more encouraged you will become. Pop back regularly to this blog. Start visiting the sport section at your local book shop. Subscribe to a magazine that will give you more information regarding your chosen sport.
5. Forgive yourself if you mess up.
You will miss runs, sleep late and at times eat all the wrong things. We all have and all will. The difference between those who continue with their lifestyle change and those who don’t is simply this, those who do, forgive themselves and move on, those who don’t, sink back into their old lifestyle. Learn from your mistakes, adjust, and move on.
6. Vary your workouts.
Don’t just run 5 km’s per day. Do some longer runs, do some quick ones, run hard up some hills, vary your route, do some cross training like biking and swimming. Mixing your disciplines up a bit will get you fitter quicker.
7. Take a break.
When you exercise you break down muscle. Resting helps build that muscle up again. The mix of placing stress on your body and then resting will help you adapt into your new life style. Always follow a hard days training with a lighter day.
8. Ignore the magazines that promise results in 3 easy steps.
Get into this with a long term view in mind. It is far better to be still at this in five years then rather going into an epic two months of training and then nothing at all. The goal is to be healthy year after year. Go for gradual improvement. You will get there. Magazines will also show off some impossibly fit looking models. Don’t focus on them, a lot of dieting and Photoshop has gone into those shoots. Focus on health, not appearance.
9. Find someone or a group to train with.
The biggest battle you will ever face is to get out your door. Having someone waiting for you on their bike, or waiting outside with their running shoes on will help you cross that threshold.