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How to Challenge Yourself in 2019

Browsing a copy of Trail Running Magazine towards the end of 2017 we came across their 1000 mile challenge. With barely a second thought we committed to running the distance during 2018.

A year on we’ve both completed the challenge – just in time. The experience got us thinking about what makes a great sports/fitness challenge and how to maximise your chances of success.

Here are our top tips for a successful challenge in 2019…

Tough but achievable

We loved the simplicity of 1000 miles in a year, and it felt achievable. It worked out at around 20 miles a week which, we reckoned, would fit in with work and family commitments.

Too easy a challenge really isn’t that motivational. Equally if you take on something really tough, you should be sure you have the time and appetite to commit to it.

Go for something tough but achievable

Buddy up

We certainly found attempting the challenge together helped a lot. If ever one of us was feeling tired or jaded a bit of (supportive) peer pressure got us lacing up our trainers to keep putting in the miles.

So consider roping in friends, family or colleagues for your 2019 challenge. Failing that there is now plenty of support online. For running or cycling Strava has plenty of active communities and for more general fitness challenges there’s often a lively Facebook group.

Plan and track

Good planning is key to longer challenges. On our 1000 miler I drifted well off target through a combination of injury and travel and ended up having to put in some big weeks in December – I really should have planned in some contingency miles earlier in the challenge.

If your challenge is performance related plan appropriately. For example to knock 30 seconds of your 5k time by the summer, schedule in regular speed sessions.

Although there are plenty of online tracking options we loved the old school forms from Trail Magazine with their “church roof fund thermometer” creeping up to the 1000’th mile.

1000 mile logOld School progress tracking

Mix it up

Once the honeymoon period wears off it’s easy to get stale and lose enthusiasm for your challenge. For the 1000 miler we made a real effort to seek out new routes and fit extra runs into business trips or holidays. Whatever your challenge, variety will boost your chances of success.

Running along the cliffs at SeafordSeeking out new routes

Giving something back

Self-improvement is a big part of any challenge, but taking part for a wider cause really helps when the going gets tough. (Ivo Gormley, founder of Good Gym talks eloquently about this in our latest podcast.) Many of us choose to raise money for a charity during our challenge.

GoodGym volunteersGiving something back with GoodGym. Photo credit: GoodGym

Alternatively your challenge itself could involve others. You could commit to volunteering at your local parkrun once a month throughout 2019. Or how about inviting at least 3 of your less active friends on a run/bootcamp/yoga session by the end of June?

Whatever you choose and whatever your reasons, we thoroughly recommend taking on a challenge this year. Good luck!