How many of us wait for the clock to chime midnight on 31 December, vowing that the New Year will see a new, fitter version of ourselves – only to find our good intentions have gone out the window by (sob!) Blue Monday?

It doesn’t need to be that way! Nobody said it’ll be easy but with a little bit of forward planning rather than a Christmas calorie induced panic, you can crack that fitness goal once and for all!

So whether you’re aiming to complete your first ever run, building up to a longer distance or want to run faster than ever before, here are some tips on how to stay motivated all year long.

SIGN UP TO A GREAT RUN EVENT
One of the simplest ways to keep on track is to set yourself a goal. Here at Great Run, we have numerous goals for you to choose from with distances covering 5k to half marathon, and with events in several major cities from Glasgow down to Portsmouth suitable for all abilities, you’ll find everything you need under one ‘Great’ roof. Visit greatrun.org and make your choice.

Use the Great Run training plans to map out your journey all the way from the start of training to the finish line!

SET A GOAL
Now you’ve signed up to your chosen event, it’s time to set your goal – but keep it realistic! If you’ve never run a step before, don’t expect to be running a half marathon before the clocks for forward. Similarly if you’re a lapsed runner, chances are you won’t get back into the groove within a week, do don’t be disheartened. Break your end goal down into small attainable chunks to reach in the short term and build up from there.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
The likelihood is you’re not going to enter an event and win, especially if it’s your first time and you’re new to running. But that’s not a negative that you need to dwell on – the last person across the finish line has completed the same distance as the first and is just as important.

The first step is the hardest. Once you’ve pulled those trainers on, headed out the door and completed your first run (jog or walk) – you’re on the way. Building up your time and distance gradually will be more sustainable long term than setting yourself unrealistic targets that become huge mountains in your way. Tell yourself, regularly, you’ve got this!

MAKE IT PUBLIC
A good way of keeping yourself on track and motivated is to tell your friends and family what you’re doing. You don’t have to bombard them with daily updates (unless you want to), checking in once a week or so will do. It always makes it that bit harder to give up on a challenge if you have to explain your reasons why you’re not following through!

On the flip side, the more people who know, the more praise and encouragement you’re going to get as you get to grips with your training regime. So soak up the praise, enjoy well-deserved compliments and take in the cheering crowds as you run down the home straight!

MIX IT UP
Don’t want to run today? Don’t have the energy? It could well be boredom of running the same route, or running the same distance. Mix it up and make it a mission to explore your local area – guaranteed you will discover an amazing location, shop, (pub), that you never knew existed!

Try also mixing up the time you go for a run. If you’re always out early in the morning, then give the evening some love.  If you’re able to jog out of work at a lunchtime then you’re on to a winner – or even run or part run commute to work. And don’t let the elements put you off. How many times were you allowed to play out in the rain as a child?

A practice run event for the big day will do wonders for your confidence; join Great Run Local - weekly, free 2k and 5k runs - and start clocking those times. Find out more here  

A SOCIAL OCCASION
If you can persuade friends or relatives to join you in your fitness campaign, you will naturally motivate each other as you won’t want to let each other down and sharing an experience can be more fun.

When running at a steady pace, you should still be able to hold a conversation, now you’ll have a captive audience instead of only having the birds to natter to. Result!

Training with others will also help you test your abilities against each other and push yourself that bit harder. Consider joining a social running club (they aren’t all too serious) to get some tips and meet new people in the same boat as you! 

CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
You don’t have to wait until you cross the finish line of your chosen event to celebrate. Each milestone you tick off on your journey to the start line is worth a little reward – even if it’s only an extra five minutes in bed a week on Sunday!

Make a note of when you reach your own personal milestones so you can look back and see how far you’ve come, a black and white reminder that you’ve cracked this challenge.

And if after reading all of this you’ve realised that running is not your thing? Then why not try an exhilarating open water experience in the Lake District or Alton Water and dip your toe in natures very own outdoor ‘swimming pool’... check out the Great Swim Series here