Unleash Your Inner Athlete: Set Goals to Get in Shape

Waking up on Tuesday morning after the Thanksgiving long weekend, I felt tired and a little disoriented when my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. But while dragging myself out of bed, I focused on the positives of the coming day instead of the overwhelming urge to pull my warm duvet back over my tired body and fall asleep. One of those "positives" on this Tuesday morning was a six a.m. workout with one of my very motivated and determined personal training clients, Stefan, who's always seeking to raise the bar and achieve more with each session.

Upon arriving for my appointment, I noticed that Stefan was looking a little smug so right away I teased him about how many pieces of pie and how much ice cream he'd consumed over the weekend (knowing his weaknesses). His reply caught me off guard, "I ran a half marathon yesterday," he said proudly.

It's fair to say that Stefan is in good shape. He is 50 and juggles a hectic job and family life, but manages to squeeze in 30 minutes on the treadmill at lunch a few days a week. So although he's in decent shape, it was great to hear that he pushed himself without me and ran an exhausting 21 kilometres.

Stefan's achievement illustrates what I'd like to highlight in today's post: Each of us have the skills necessary to be an athlete. For some, the term "athlete" might be measured by running a marathon, cycling 100 kilometres, or playing a weekend game of tennis. Others might measure their physical fitness by a leisurely road-side stroll at the cottage, walking the dog a little further on the weekend or simply chasing after kids around the house. Some will engage in athletics to satisfy their quench for competition, but for other "athletes," competition might be too daunting and be more easily satisfied with a group yoga class or playing a Wii Fit game with the kids.

However you choose to define what you do for physical fitness, the common characteristic of being athletic is simply to move. We all have the capacity both biomechanically and physiologically to move, which makes all us ATHLETES!

With our physical abilities and athletic potential there is always an opportunity to push one's self just a little bit more, just a little bit further than the last time. It is possible to unleash the inner-athlete in all of us; all we need is a little motivation, a goal and a clear focus on the health benefits.

When setting goals it is very important to make sure they are specific, measurable, realistic and have a time frame attached to them. This way we can measure success, and, like Stefan, know when 24 laps will equal a significant milestone.

When Stefan left on his run early Monday morning his initial goal was to push himself and run 16 kilometres. However, by the time he reached the the 16k mark he was already calculating how many more laps of Queen's Park would be necessary to complete the half marathon, which is 21 kilometres.

After our training session ended, I asked Stefan if 24 laps around Queen's Park made him at all dizzy. "Did you at least run 12 in one direction and 12 another?" He replied again, with his usual witty sarcasm, "Mark, that would be too much change."

I asked how he felt after such an amazing run and why he decided to go the extra distance and his simple reply was, "Because it was a nice morning, I wanted to do a longer run and felt I could".

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a new start, a familiar feeling.

Chronicling one of benchy's clients - getting someone who loathes exercise, exercising