The article, “7 Tips for Mastering the Mental Side of Getting Fit” by Paul L. Underwood for Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal.com blog highlights a portion of the piece that is particularly insightful. This ‘clip’ introduces a key concept, which makes the entire feature worth reading.
Underwood offers up this thought: “being fit isn’t some magical permanent state of being. It’s an act of constant becoming, and it requires a certain discipline to make it a habit”.
He references an expert in exercise and sport psychology. The seven tips seem to come from this source, and the first one is introduced by a teaser: “Tip 1 is don’t set goals. We can explain…”
Underwood’s discussion of this initial piece of advice is particularly good, and although Earned Runs disagrees with the statement, the premise is essentially cancelled out in the next section, “Don’t exercise – train.”
That first tip underscores the fact that for a previously inactive person, the promised rewards of following a fitness program aren’t delivered up front. Most feedback is likely to be negative rather than positive. Better health, improved mood, weight loss, a sculpted body might be experienced several months into a program, but not in the initial difficult stages when new tough routines must be established. The message is that this process is difficult for everyone, whether new or seasoned, so don’t give up, don’t become discouraged.
The second tip brilliantly advises adopting an attitude of ‘training’ rather than ‘exercising’ in a fitness program. And here’s where the contradiction with Tip 1 comes in: to train there must be a goal challenge that is undertaken for which training is preparation. Goals aren’t necessarily bad, but unreasonable goals can be self-defeating. Earned Runs believes that committing to a succession of attainable challenges, then training safely to meet each one, will foster a habit of lifetime fitness.
The fifth tip is about self-definition as an active person, “rain or shine,” to help with motivation. Earned Runs thinks people who train consistently should consider themselves athletes. Because, to help preserve this image, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and other health habits might more easily be established and continued. Framed in this way, life activities might more easily and mindfully be adjusted to maintain such an attractive self-view.
Let’s get back to that quote mentioned at the beginning of this post. It stated, “being fit isn’t some magical permanent state of being. It’s an act of constant becoming, and it requires a certain discipline to make it a habit”.
Committing to a succession of attainable goals, training and then achieving each goal, and seeing yourself as an athlete in the process can, over time, help you acquire the type of discipline required to become fit. The discipline doesn’t just happen; it must be developed. However, each time a challenge is met, self-confidence is gained and the motivation to persevere is increased, which translates to greater discipline!
Want an example? Earned Runs provides a year-long, step-wise approach to consistent training toward specific goal races, then allows a summer break in which to physically and mentally rest and recover and have fun in the longer and warmer days:
*Early Fall: beginner 5k training plan preps runners/walkers for a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, the most popular race of the year to run with family and friends.
*Late Fall: ‘On to the New Year’ 5K plan maintains training up to New Year’s Day and provides an amazing start to the upcoming year.
*Winter & Spring: Half Marathon with ‘SAINTS DAYS’ plan; trains you for a 5K, then a 10k a month later; both are fun, themed-race opportunities. Those who choose to can work toward a mid-spring 13.1-mile effort.
*Summer: Run/Walk Across America, Streak Running, Fastest 5K, and the Walker ‘Series Sweep’ Challenge are offered to allow a change of pace and chance to cross train and enjoy other summer sports.
At the end of this full year, trainees should have gained considerable experience and confidence, and are ready to resume competition in the fall for longer or shorter distance races. By this time, they are likely to understand the concept that fitness is a process of ‘becoming’.
A racing bib is a symbol of athletic endurance competition. Earned Runs provides free bibs for training and motivation. The bibs can be used as well for custom-designed competitions, especially if organized events aren’t affordable, available, or convenient.
Want to master the mental side of becoming fit? Look to Earned Runs for help.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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