ANALYZE YOUR LEVELS OF MOTIVATION AND PERSONAL DISCIPLINE
At least in the beginning, running is neither easy nor enjoyable. You need great motivation and personal discipline to survive the first 3 months before, as Newton said in his eighth rule of training, running becomes a habit controlled by the subconscious. The result is that many beginners, who possibly see only the glamour of marathon running and are unaware of the demands of the sport, soon fall by the wayside.
I suspect that those who stick with a running program have previously exhibited perseverance, are mentally healthy, and usually have succeeded in whatever they have done. In contrast, those who drop out are more likely to have failed previously and may have low levels of self-esteem (Lobstein et al, 1983). Indeed, studies of cardiac patients who drop out of exercise programs to which they have been referred after suffering heart attacks showed that these patients were more depressed, hypochondriacal, anxious, and introverted and had lower ego strength than those who remained in such programs (Blumenthal et al, 1982a).
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At present, our knowledge of how best to help those likely to drop out of a regular running program is limited, so adherence essentially becomes an individual problem for each runner. Realize your weaknesses, and get others to help and support you. In particular, you should plan to run in a group of people who meet regularly and who will assist in motivating you. Unfortunately, the running clubs in most countries have not yet evolved a system whereby they guide beginning runners through these first difficult steps; hopefully this will change in the future. John Martin and Patricia Dubbert from the University of Mississippi at Jackson (J.E. Martin & Dubbert, 1984) suggest the following strategies to assist the beginner.
This is a process in which a target behavior (e.g, becoming fit enough to run a marathon) is broken up into a series of gradual steps that eventually lead to the
Desired goal. J.E. Martin and Dubbert (1984) suggest starting with a simple, easily performed task. In running, the initial shaping goal during the first 8 to 12 weeks should therefore not be to become fit, but rather to develop the habit of regular exercise.
Reinforcement Control .
Any encouragement that reinforces the exercise habit will be beneficial (e.g, social support gained from running in a group or increased physical fitness gained from exercise).
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