In Finding Ultra, which hits stores today, Rich Roll tells how he went from 50 pounds overweight to elite Ultraman competitor in two years through diet and exercise. This month, we’re focusing on fitness, so we asked Rich for his favorite tips for training for spring and summer races–from 5K walks to full-blown marathons. —BBL Editor
May is an ideal time to dust off that athletic challenge lingering in the back of your mind and bring it to life by signing up for a race or event. I don’t care if your goal is an Ironman, a marathon, an ocean swim or to simply complete a 5K walk for charity. As long as it’s something that has you on the hook to get up and show up.
Whether it’s the first race of your life or you’re a veteran, here are a few helpful tips to get you started that have helped me tremendously:
1. Make it fun. Getting in shape or training for an athletic challenge shouldn’t be perceived as a burden. Flip the equation and approach it as an opportunity to expand and grow. If you hate running, then opt for something more personally enjoyable. Make it fun and you will enjoy the journey rather than dread the work required to carry you across the finish line. And if it’s fun, you’re more likely to stick with your chosen activity after the event is complete. That’s the true prize.
2. Consistency trumps all. You can’t build Rome in a day. So don’t try to. Small, consistent efforts reap exponential rewards over intense efforts taken only intermittently. So if you’re training for a running event, for example, it’s better to log several short runs in a given week that just one or two long runs. Just 30 minutes spent daily on your chosen endeavor can take you further than you might think.
3. Build community. Don’t do it alone! Seek out friends, colleagues or clubs where you can make your pursuit a social affair. Communal support goes a long way toward keeping you enthusiastic, motivated and accountable to your goal. I would even take it a step further by making a habit of sharing your workouts publicly on social networks. Not just Facebook, but websites like Strava, Nike+ or Daily Mile are great for measuring your output. And the public aspect is just one more way of keeping yourself honest and on track.
4. Prioritize your sessions. Exercising “when you find the time” never works. Instead, make the time by taking a hard look at your schedule. Cut the idle and wasted hours (reality television isn’t going anywhere), and prioritize your sessions by scheduling them just like any appointment. Then keep a journal to track your progress. Seeing progression on paper (or online) will further invest you emotionally in achieving your goal and gird your resolve to continue prioritizing it.
5. Reward progress. When you have a breakthrough or achieve an interim stepping stone goal, reward yourself with something fun and personally meaningful. Creating ceremony around your successes – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – is another great way to keep things fun and fresh. The more you succeed, the more likely you are to keep going.
6. Eat right! Your car won’t run on bad gas. And neither can you. Treat yourself right by eating right. Hydrate during exercise sessions and make sure you refuel within 30 minutes of each session with foods that nourish you – fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
What are you waiting for? Let’s do it!
Need more inspiration? Watch this video:
Learn more about Rich Roll and Finding Ultra at findingultra.com.