Strategies to Stay Accountable and Crush Fitness Goals
Molly Sughroue is a six-time Big 12 champion and All-American track athlete from Oklahoma State currently training for the 2024 Olympic trials. She combines her experience working with world-class coaches, athletes, and sports psychologists to come up with five key pillars of accountability.
Simple Strategies to Keep Showing Up
Even the greatest athletes struggle to get out the door some days.
In the words of two-time Olympian and Boston Marathon champ, Des Linden:
“Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.”
Sounds simple, right? But showing up every day is much easier said than done. If it was easy, everyone would have six-pack abs and a million dollars burning a hole in their pocket.
This might come as a letdown, but here’s the truth: there aren’t any secrets. No magic pills, no little-known science, no special sauce. You just have to simply do it. And that long-term consistency can be really, really hard.
There’s no way out of showing up and doing the work. But there are simple strategies that make it a little easier.
1. Find Guidance/Support
Doing hard things alone day-in and day-out is incredibly difficult.
Sure, it’s easy to make it through the first month, but then your dog gets sick so you take a day off. Then it starts raining outside so you tell yourself you’ll do it later. But now you just got into a super binge-worthy show on Netflix and you’re just oh-so cozy…
Suddenly a week flies by and you haven’t done anything to further your progress.
That’s why you need support — a coach who calls you on your sh*t or at least comes up with solutions when the going gets rough. A community that holds you accountable for doing your workout and checks in when you don’t. Other people to pull you along.
The difficult becomes a bit more manageable when you feel supported. Performance levels improve and you’re much less likely to burn out. A little friendly competition never hurts either!
Tip: The TrainHeroic Marketplace offers hundreds of training plans as low as $10 a month from expert coaches all around the world, as well as training groups/teams that hold you accountable and offer support!
2. Track Your Progress
Feeling like you’re going nowhere and wondering what’s the point? There comes a “sticky” part in most training plans where people often drop out.
Physically tracking your progress prevents this from happening and improves your likelihood of achieving your goal.
Let’s face it. Seeing progress is motivating. And sometimes that’s all you need to keep going. Set milestones and small goals along the way to keep you from getting overwhelmed by the overarching goal.
If you use an old school log book or journal and that works for you, have at it. But it helps to have access to modern tools (such as Readiness and Stackup in TH’s Athlete Pro account) that show your data trends over time so you can see correlations and tweak your habits as needed.
3. Change Your Perspective
Finding a coach/community and tracking your progress? Sure, sounds easy. But this is where things get real.
I used to be the glass half-empty kind of girl. If you handed me a glass of water, I would literally pour that sh*t on the floor because that’s how I viewed life. It wasn’t until I changed the way I think and basically rewired my brain that I started seeing real progress in my sport.
When you change your perspective from “I have to workout today” to “I get to workout today,” putting the work in becomes a lot easier. And a lot more fun.
The key here is learning to love yourself. If you love yourself, you start making decisions that benefit you and stop self-sabotaging your goals.
For example, instead of thinking “OMG I can’t have any sugar!” think about how awful you feel afterward and let that feeling influence your decision. “I don’t like the way I feel when I eat too much sugar, so I’m not going to eat it.” Logically, it makes ZERO sense to do something that makes you feel bad.
You don’t give your dog chocolate because you love your dog and want what’s best for it. You should see yourself in the same light. Love yourself as much as you love your dog.
And remember: pressure is a privilege. The ability to set high goals and go after them is a reason to be thankful.
4. Celebrate Your Victories (No Matter How Small)
Some of the best advice I ever received was to write down three things I do every day that contribute to my goal. It can be as simple as getting 8 hours of sleep or meditating for 10 mins. Cooking a healthy meal is also a big W in my book!
Three victories every day add up fast. And it’s so rewarding to look back at all the things you’ve done for yourself, which helps you love yourself (#3) and holds you accountable (#2) to keep doing those three goal-oriented things every day.
You don’t have to write things down, though.
My coach used to put a hair tie in her bag after every workout. On race day, she’d have a nearly full bag of hair ties as a reminder of all the hard work she put in.
Find what works for you, and keep celebrating.
5. Make It Fun
Most importantly, enjoy it. Experiencing joy is the greatest motivator. And if you’re like me, doing hard things and seeing what you’re capable of is probably your version of fun.
This is also where everything comes together:
- Committing to a coach and/or community that gives you a sense of belonging and support
- Hitting milestones and physically tracking/seeing your progress
- Changing your perspective from “I have to” to “I get to”
- Celebrating your victories and being proud of yourself
There’s no way around doing the work. But if you have fun doing the work, you’re going to keep showing up. And that’s all there is to it.
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