Start Early To Succeed

kate-braithwaite-running

By “Get an early start” I do not mean get up before 6am, though for some people that does help with their productivity. For others, it just leaves them reaching for the coffee pot all day. In this case, by “Get an Early Start” I’m talking about starting a goal sooner rather than later. This blog is going to help you understand why putting things off can be a recipe for disaster.

While we are on the subject of early starts, I’m sure you’ve seen post after post from “successful” and “inspirational” celebs or social media stars saying how they get up at this hour and work until this hour. Many claiming they get around 4-5hrs sleep. It’s not the way for all of us. When someone tells me they work like that, I smile and say ‘well done”. In my mind I’m wondering how productive they really are if they need so much time and let it hamper their sleep that much.

Know yourself

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, know yourself: work out what works best for you and move ahead with that. If you need 7-8hrs sleep on a regular basis, that’s fine. That’s what I do and I find I’m far more productive. If I only had 5hrs sleep regularly the tiredness would probably mean I’d take longer to get everything done that I need to do. I’d also want to double and triple check everything as tiredness affects my concentration, and thus my overall productivity would probably be the same as if I had less time but wasn’t over tired. Added to which, my training is also worse when I get less sleep, so its a no brainer for me: more sleep, more productive across all areas. But! Work out which works for you, just don’t fall foul of copying others who rave about hours and hours of time a day through little sleep and expect it to work for you too.

Give yourself time

Time is the most valuable commodity we have. We can earn more money. We can make more friends. Time ticks away for all of us. We can’t do anything about it other than try to make the most of the time we have. When it comes to a health and fitness goal, give yourself time by (yes you’ve guessed it) getting an early start. I’m going to use two common examples to highlight why.

  1. Fat loss for a summer holiday.
  2. Preparing for a marathon.

The classic mistake with the former is to leave it until 2 weeks before and then crash diet; almost starving yourself. Sadly some fitness magazines compound the problem by writing “2 week weightloss for your holiday” pieces in the summer as they know this will sell copy. Don’t believe it. Get an early start and do it healthily.

Firstly, leaving it late is almost guaranteed not to get you into the shape you want to get into. No matter how little you have to lose, 2 weeks isn’t likely to get you to where you really want to be.

Second, due to starving yourself before going away, your metabolism is likely to be negatively affected, meaning when you let loose on holiday, as most of us do, you are far more likely to gain weight fast than if you had dieted slowly.

The answer? Start early. If looking good on your holiday means that much to you, give yourself 2-3months to prepare. That doesn’t mean cutting out all nice foods, all chocolate, all alcohol by any means (read my Nutrition book The Complete Guide to Successful Eating for proof of this). It just requires an understanding and acknowledgement of what you are ingesting to ensure you will slowly get into the shape you want. Not only will this ensure you end up walking down the beach in the shape you really want to be, it also means its likely to be long term. Life long if you want it to be.

Running out of time

It’s the classic mistake. Sign up for a marathon with a year or so to prepare. Promise yourself that at the 1 year mark training starts. It doesn’t. Other things like football or weight training or life get in the way. You promise yourself you’ll start at the 9 month point. You do. It lasts a few weeks but its hard time and fitness wise, and it’s cold. Besides, there are better things to be doing and you’ve got ages yet. The 6 month point arrives. Now it’s getting close. Rather than just running, you’re going to look for the perfect marathon plan, and diet plan, because losing weight was the main reason for signing up for the marathon anyway.

You ask around, buy marathon books, buy marathon magazines, download countless marathon programmes from the net. You probably spent hours on eBay or Amazon researching heart rate monitors and distance trackers. Then shopping for one at the weekend. All time that could have been spent training. And so on…

With 3 months to go you have all the kit, all the gear, but no real training has taken place. You search for a crash marathon training plan and start hitting it hard. One of two things happens:

  1. You get injured and have to drop out.
  2. You do the marathon with 50-60% of training done and it’s agony, putting you off ever doing it again.

Sean Lerwill getting an early start by runningNeither of those options are very nice. Cramming the training in to 3 months (especially if you aren’t a regular runner) will likely lead to injury or at least some form of niggle. Equally, doing a marathon off the back of minimal running training will be painful.

Get an early start

In either scenario, it’s up to you. We spoke about time being your most important commodity. It’s also YOUR commodity. What you do with your time is up to YOU. Even if you work full time. You have to work yes, but you don’t HAVE to work where you work. No matter how you ended up there, what responsibilities you have, you do have a choice. You can look for another job. You can change your life. YOU can spend YOUR time as YOU wish.

Making a marathon out of it

When it comes to training for a marathon, going on a diet for the summer holiday or whatever else you want to achieve, give yourself time. It is probably the best piece of advice I can give you. Something we learned in the Marines when planning was contingency, because guaranteed something will always go wrong. More time means you can still hit the required end goal on time despite having to add in a contingency/take a detour en route.

Take your marathon prep. We said that people often get injured and that results in them pulling out. Dropouts will largely be those cramming training last minute. Those that get injured who have allowed themselves sufficient time have the beauty of that time. If you get injured when you’ve given yourself time, you either have the luxury of time to rest/rehab and come back to full health, or you have the training/fitness in the bag so after a little rest/rehab you aren’t back to square one. Either way the event itself is often doable.

Losing Will

For those dieting, everyone has issues and even eventually falls of the wagon at some point. Sometimes it’s a birthday or leaving do. Sometimes it’s as a result of a bad event like a breakup or the like. Like the marathon training, time allows for these road bumps but without completely crashing. There’s time to get over the problem and back onto the right road. Equally, dieting is different for everyone. Time allows you to find your best method. As I said at the start of this blog in terms of time management, what works for someone you read about on social media doesn’t necessarily work for you. Dieting is no different. That’s why in my nutrition guide Successful Eating I provide three different methods for getting to the same end goal. People are different and thus they get the same result in different ways.

Time to go it alone

There you have it. The beginning of March and I’d say just the right time to start thinking about that summer holiday. Work out a plan and start it mid March/end of March, giving you April, May and June to get ready for July. Whatever it is you want to achieve, not just in fitness, but in life too; give yourself time. Worst case you’ll end up being ready too early and have to maintain for a few weeks. Nothing wrong with that.