Six ways to stay motivated in your exercise routine

Former party girl Helen Croydon took up exercise to find new friends. Soon hooked on exercise, she became a GB triathlete and writes about the experience in her entertaining book This Girl Ran. Here, Helen shares her six tips for staying motivated in your exercise routine.

1. Set a short-term goal

I always train harder if I have a reason. It doesn't have to be a health goal such as losing weight, or even a performance goal like knocking a minute off a 5k. My goal when I joined a running club was to make new friends and fill my weekends with group activities. Suddenly I was doing cross county races or half marathons on weekends. I didn’t care so much about my times, but I loved going to new places with new people.

2. Set a long-term goal

Think of the wider benefits of fitness so it becomes a lifestyle, not just a phase. I stay motivated because I want to be strong and agile. I like that I can run up the escalator carrying a suitcase to catch a train or that I could go on holiday and join a day-long hike without a second thought. Even if you’re not doing a tough session, getting fresh air and daylight, and staying away from electronic devices will make you feel good.

3. Enter an event

Outdoor endurance events are becoming ever more popular, and not just with seasoned outdoorsy types. You’ll find first-timers at every triathlon, marathon or 100-mile bike ride. Why not enter one in a stunning part of the country you’ve never been to and make it a weekend away with friends? There’s nothing better than drinking beer with friends after an exerting challenge!

4. Train with people

When I joined a running club, and later a triathlon club, it became a lifestyle change. I wanted to go to sessions for the social catch-up. It also meant I didn’t have to think what I was going to do and the sessions are always different – hills or speed intervals for instance. You’ll get a ready-made, balanced training programme for speed, endurance and strength.

5.Track progress

You might find that stats are just the trick to keep you motivated. I’m a sucker for heart rates, lactate thresholds and intensity minutes. I use a Garmin 935, which monitors my sleep, stress levels (through variation in HR), overnight resting heart rate and gives me a score as to how hard I've trained and how many days recovery I need. A word of warning: I never look at it the night after drinking because my stress levels and resting heart rate are through the roof! 

6. Rest 

Finally, if you’re body really is screaming that it doesn’t want to do something, it might not be lack of motivation, it might be telling you it needs recovery. I’ve learned the hard way that when I have an overwhelming sense of ennui but still push on, an injury appears. Schedule in recovery days and you’ll bounce back to training full of enthusiasm.

This Girl Ran: Tales of a Party Girl Turned Triathlete (Summersdale Publishing, £6.49) is out now

For 10 sports to try in 2018, see ten spots to take up in 2018