By Jarrod Shoemaker

It's February, what are you doing right now? This time of the year is always tough; and the short daylight hours make motivation to train even harder. With your first race months away, keeping to that training schedule can be a bit tough.

Here are five simple and easy things you can do to help stay motivated and keep on track:

  • Start simple with your goals. If you want to run a marathon, aim for a 5km race first. If you want to complete an Ironman triathlon, start with a sprint-distance race. Completing steps along the way to your goal will help you feel accomplished and give you added motivation.
  • Write down your goals! While this might seem like a simple solution, actually putting something in writing will "make it real." Write your goal on a few notecards and put them in places where you cannot miss them, such as on a bathroom mirror, on top of your computer, on your purse or wallet and/or in your sock drawer.
  • Collaborate with a friend. Work with a friend who is also motivated and wants to accomplish a goal. Waking up in the cold or meeting after work to do a workout is always easier when you have somebody who you are accountable to. It also is great to accomplish something with somebody else. And, seeing a friend achieve a goal can also a great motivation.
  • Get a coach. Another way to hold yourself accountable is to find somebody who will help coach you. Whether this is a training group to work out with or a coach who will expect you to report back your workouts, this is added motivation to do it right and do it well. Picking the right coach can really help you get to your goal faster. It also helps you avoid trial and error about determining the best way to get there.
  • Keep a training log. Writing down your workouts and feelings is a great way to stay on task. Almost all pro athletes keep some sort of workout diary. All the athletes I coach are required to update it daily. This also allows you to look back and reference some of the workouts you completed in the past to motivate you for an upcoming workout that looks hard.

I tell all of my athletes at the start of the season that it is important for them to dream big and reach for the goals they think they can achieve. However, the process of achieving those goals and being smart on the path is just as important and can be just as rewarding.