Willpower, the mental energy to exert self-control, gets depleted the more decisions humans face, John Tierney, co-author of “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” said in an interview on “CBS This Morning” last week.
It was a timely message as most of us embark on goals in the new year.
Tierney, who wrote the book with research psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, says the key to achieving goals is to limit “decision fatigue.”
He noted quite colorfully that making too many decisions has led numerous public leaders, such as former President Bill Clinton and former N.Y. Gov. Elliot Spitzer, to make embarrassing private mistakes.
The interview also made me think why joining training groups with a common goal is so effective in helping people stay true to a fitness plan.
Not only do you have a goal to train for, such as the Cooper River Bridge Run, but you have to be a specific location at a specific time with a specific group of people to work out with. And since you pay money to join a training group, you'll probably be more apt to get your money's worth.
With the exception of deciding to join a camp or clinic in the first place, your decision is already made. In other words, joining a group makes the decision to training almost automatic.
Instead of having to decide what to do and when to do it, day after day, the decision is kind of already made. You have to be there. The coach or coaches have the workout. And your training partners are depending on you to be there.
With eight different camps starting this month, you have plenty of options to choose from, whether you're starting from scratch and just want to complete a 5K or is somebody ready to step up to a half-marathon.
January, quite frankly, is an inconvenient time to set fitness goals. Winter's short days and often cold and/or rainy weather can be quite unmotivating. Yet training camps, especially held on challenging weather days, can provide the camaraderie and fellowship to keep people true to a common goal.
Besides the training camps, don't forget the array of opportunities to run and walk — 15 in all, from 5Ks to a marathon — with others on weekends from now until the 36th annual Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk on April 6. For a complete list, go to the Charleston Running Club website at www.charlestonrunning club.com.
And for those who would rather ride a bike, group rides take place all week. Times and locations are listed on the Coastal Cyclists websiteat www.coastalcyclists.org.