Are you missing workouts, making excuses, and having a difficult time sticking to your routine? You’re not alone. Summer is a very tough season for runners. The weather is HOT, you’re on vacation, you have relatives visiting, you were just invited to the neighbor’s pool party, etc. So, how do you keep up your fitness and stay in good running shape? Here are 5 easy steps to help keep you on track anytime of year.

5 Insanely Easy Steps to Training Success

5 Easy Steps to Keep Your Training on Track

1. Set Goal

Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher and trail running enthusiast, once said “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” Well, the runner who does not plan long ahead may find trouble getting out the door. Goals are important. We all need direction and purpose to our training. So, take a few minutes to reflect on your personal goals. What kind of runner do you want to be? Do you have a race goal in mind? Is there a PR you’re chasing?

Once you’ve determined your goal, ask yourself a few more questions to be sure you’re satisfied. Is it attainable given your life’s schedule and obligations? Is it realistic given your fitness level and ability? If your goal passes the test, now it’s time to own it. Write it down and post it on your refrigerator, use it as your desktop background, or share your goal with someone close to you.

2. Develop Training Plan

Now that you have a goal, you need a specific training plan that will help you reach it. Free training plans for all types on distances can be found online. Two of the most popular sites belong to Hal Higdon  and Jeff Galloway. There are others out there that are geared to various levels of running ability and available training time.

You may want to hire a coach or have a custom plan designed for you by a knowledgable runner. Look for someone who is an RRCA certified or USATF certified coach. This is your goal, and your training plan. Your coach will provide expertise and assistance in helping you follow the plan and reach your goal, but the hard work is up to you.

3. Be Social

Never underestimate the benefit of having understanding friends to help you reach your goal. On the other hand, never underestimate the power derived from fear of public humiliation. Either way you look at it, being part of a large social group of runners will help you stick your training plan. You can find your friends on social networks like Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. Or, you can find them at your local running club.

Connecting with runners in your area will lead to training partners, group runs, road races, and other social events that make running more than just a sport. To get an idea of where the clubs are near you, check out your local specialty running store. Or, you can check online at RRCA or Running in the USA.

4. Reward Yourself

Remember “Be Good to Yourself,” Journey’s hit song from 1986? Know when to take it easy and be good to yourself if you start feeling the effects of overtraining. A day off is better than a day missed due to injury. Be your own best advocate and listen to your body.

Treat yourself to something good after completing small segments of your training plan. For example, if you are in a 16-week marathon build-up, celebrate each 4-week milestone with a piece of new running gear or a night out at your favorite restaurant. Keep your mind on your long-term goal, but pat yourself on the back for your hard work along the way.

5. Play

George Sheehan referred to running as playtime for adults. Rarely do we have the chance to run free and howl at the moon. It’s an exhilarating feeling for both body and mind to let go of the day-to-day stressors and focus on movement and freedom. Enjoy the feeling of flying in low orbit as you log your miles and break free from the herd. Go, run! And, most importantly, have fun!

Thoughts?