Early mornings, breathless runs, pulled muscles – exercise is not always fun. Faced with the choice between a 5k run on a frosty morning and the lure of a warm bed, many of us will find our motivation somewhat lacking.
The answer, according to a new study, is to find yourself a mentor. On Camp With Kelly – Kelly Holmes’s project to develop UK female middle distance runners – has come up with six steps for improving your fitness, based on the structure of their programme.
1. Get yourself a mentor. Whether your sport is professional or recreational, having someone to help you persevere during tough times and who can offer you support and guidance is invaluable.
2. Train with other people. Be it a friend or a fellow athlete, knowing someone is meeting you for a 6am training session is a good reason not to snooze your alarm. Training in pairs or groups creates a two-way support system as well as making the whole process more enjoyable.
3. Prepare. Planning an exercise programme with the help of your mentor will help you achieve fitness and success. Making sure you have appropriate footwear and refreshments each time you exercise is also important.
4. Learn about your body and fitness. Getting to know your body better and identifying areas to improve on is important when training.
5. Go for long-term gains, not overnight success. Have a goal plan for what you want to achieve, it will give you a sense of purpose. It is helpful to work out where you want to be in a week, a month and a year’s time.
6. Stay healthy. Try to minimise the risk of injury– ensure you warm up and cool down after each exercise session and allow your body time to recover. On Camp with Kelly, supported by Aviva since 2004, is Dame Kelly Holmes' mentoring and education initiative for talented young middle distance athletes.