Strength training has a tendency to make its way in and out of my workout schedule, but the one area where I try to stay the most consistent is cardio.  Getting your heart rate pumping regularly is great for your metabolism and allows for a consistent outlet for burning calories.  So how to do you stay motivated to keep up with your cardio routine week after week while continuing to challenge yourself?  One of the best approaches I’ve found is accountability… and maybe a bit of competition.

A few months ago a friend introduced me to the concept of “marathon in a month.”  It’s really simple, but really effective.  Basically you commit to completing 26.2 miles of cardio within the month of your choice.  You can run, walk, use an elliptical or whatever works for you.  That breaks down to about 6.5 miles per week.   My favorite part of this challenge is getting someone else to commit with you.  It can be a friend, neighbor, coworker or maybe even your kids.  I did this recently with some long distance friends, so we set up a system where we would send pictures from our phones to document our workouts.  For me that meant taking a picture of the machine and the miles I clocked.  For some it was a screenshot of an app that tracks the distances they run.  Or it could just be a text with your details.   Getting those texts and seeing those images from my friends was all it took some days to get me off the couch and to the gym.  I also love the idea of setting up a reward in the end for everyone who hits their goal.

After doing this the first time, I had a lot of fun but was looking for more of a challenge so I increased my commitment to 100 miles in 90 days.   That one kept me on my toes, but at the end I felt like I could really appreciate what I had accomplished.  Being able to say you ran a “marathon” that month feels more tangible to me than just a random number of workouts.

Now that the weather is turning colder and the holidays are coming – all things that make my soft warm couch more appealing – I’m looking to kick-start a new challenge.  This November, I’m going to recommit to at least 100 more miles over the next three months.  That gets me to the end of January and through the holiday season.  This time my husband is joining me, so I’m going to print a tracking sheet to hang in our kitchen where we can log our workouts.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress (but I think I’m going to win!)