5 Tips to Train for Any Fitness Challenge

Do any of these sound familiar?

“I’ve never been a runner.”

“I would look stupid trying that out.”

“I could never do that.”

Well, they’re familiar to me. I’ve said them all at one time or another. Chances are, you have, too.

I’ve always enjoyed physical activities, at least the ones I like to do — biking, tennis, walking, the elliptical machine.

But I was never a runner.

Until I decided to become one.

Here’s why: One of the items on my “Margie Project” list for the year I turned 50 was to run a 5K.

As someone who trained for and completed her first 5K at 50, and her first triathlon at 52, I can tell you that you can achieve a seemingly “impossible” fitness goal.*


Here are some tips on how to do just that:

  1. Tie your fitness goal to a bigger goal. When we’re struggling to work towards our fitness goals, it helps to remember the big picture. I didn’t want to run a 5K because I was really interested in running. I did it because I wanted to push myself to new heights after turning 50. You may want to learn to play tennis because your partner plays, and you want to participate in couples’ tennis activities. Maybe you want to be able to complete long bicycle rides because you’ve always dreamed of seeing Italy by bike.
  2. Pick a completion date and put it on your calendar. If you’re looking to bike long distances, run a race, or play round robin tennis, pick a realistic date when you want to be able to do that. I generally choose a goal three months ahead. You may want to achieve it in one month or six months. Whatever works for you. And once you have that date, put it on your calendar.
  3. Make a plan. You can “wing it” in some areas of life, but to achieve a tough fitness goal, you’ll need to create a plan. A date to achieve your goal is great, but you’ll need to complete a series of activities to achieve that goal. You might have ideas on activities you need to do, but I would recommend grabbing one of the many free online training plans. Here’s the one I used for my triathlon. Once you know what activities you’ll need to focus on, put them on your daily calendar. They are as important as all of your other to-dos.
  4. Get a buddy or mentor or both. I was lucky that one of my friends had run many 5Ks and triathlons, and I enlisted her help when I trained for both. While she wasn’t a professional fitness coach, she was willing to join me on many runs, bike outings, and swims, and provided real-world advice. You can also join inexpensive groups related to your fitness goal (such as running or bike clubs). If you’re learning tennis, you’ll be able to practice some of it on your own, but you’ll definitely need to practice with someone else at some point. Of course, for any fitness challenge, you can also pay a trainer to help you.
  5. Buy what you need. Taking on a new fitness activity means spending some money. You don’t need every expensive piece of clothing and gadget to create a great fitness training experience, but you do need essential items. If you’re a runner, don’t skimp on great running shoes and socks. You can get less expensive shorts and shirts, but a great sports bra is vitally important (especially after 50). When you’re first learning tennis, you can get a relatively inexpensive racquet. For biking, I tend to choose higher-end brands for bicycles and helmets. Your buddies, mentors, trainers, and other folks can help you determine when to splurge and when to save on items.

I hope these tips help you on your path to achieving your next fitness goal. What other tips do you have for mermaids looking to achieve their fitness goals?

*CAVEAT – I am not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice. Before you undertake any fitness program, check with your doctor.