Getting started with fitness goals

Monday, January 11, 2010

The new year is under way and if you have fitness goals for 2010 you may be wondering how to get started. Whether your mission begins with getting off the couch or picks up where you left off after your last race in the fall, there is a wealth of information online to help you.

Step 1: Set Goals

First, choose goals that get you to where you really want to be. For example, if you said, "I will run five days a week," my first question would be, "why?" A goal that is defined by what you will do versus your desired result has a high potential for failure. Why? Because it is easy to beat yourself over the head with a goal like that. If you miss a day of running, you may feel like you have failed at your goal. Also, how do you motivate yourself to stick to running five days a week if you don't know why you are doing it?

Second, ensure that your goals are measurable. For example, "start running" is rather vague. How will you know when have you accomplished that? After your first few steps? A better goal might be, "I will run a 5k race in July." See the difference?

Step 2: Research and Plan

One of my favorite websites is On the plus side, the site contains information on every exercise-related topic that you can imagine. On the minus side, the site contains information on every exercise-related topic that you can imagine. DON'T FREAK OUT! I know this fire hose of information can be overwhelming but this tip may help you: ignore everything that doesn't pertain to your CURRENT goal and/or level or that you don't understand. Consider these resources:

  • Peruse to find tips and information to help get you started.
  • If you are thinking about starting a running program, you may want to consider a walk/run training plan such as the Galloway method or a "Couch to 5k" (or C25K) training plan.
  • For aspiring triathletes, is an excellent resource for everything from training plans to racing gear reviews.
  • If you prefer to work out with others, consider hiring a personal trainer, participating in a "bootcamp" program, or joining a group fitness program at your local gym.
Step 3: Get Moving!

Once you have established your goals and selected an approach to getting started, it is time to get moving! Don't be intimidated if this is all new to you. Try to:

  • Find your happy place (whether on a treadmill, a trail, or elsewhere). Find a place that you'll be motivated to go to often.
  • Experiment with different activities to find something that you enjoy. Don't make exercise about hammering on yourself to get to a physical goal. Instead, find an activity that you enjoy and let the fitness follow your passion.
Regular exercise requires a small time investment but it is a huge investment in your health.

Happy trails!

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