I get a lot of questions about the best ways to train. Which, considering I spent the earlier part of this year on crutches, unable to run for four months due to an overuse injury that could have been avoided, I find somewhat amusing. Then there’s the immediate back-pedalling that takes place, usually in the form of, “But I don’t want to run, or get up at 4 am, or do anything that’s hard.”
Gotcha. I can work with that.
Below are five training tips I try to follow. I say try because let’s be honest—we’re all human and some days will be better than others. But these are the big picture items that have kept me pushing for the last ten years, and they are things anyone can adopt into their lifestyle.
1. Pick Something You Love
I can’t count the number of times people say to me, “Ugh, I know I need to run but I hate it.” Um… why exactly do you need to run? I hate Pure Barre and even though my butt never looked better during the month I took classes, I’m not going back. Life is too short. Find something you love, or at least don’t abhor. There’s cycling, swimming, walking, gym glasses, jumping rope, rowing, yoga, pilates, racquetball and about a billon other things. Choose 1-2.
2. Remind Yourself You Love This Horrible Thing You’ve Chosen
I constantly hear, “It’s easy for you, you love to run.” Guess what, folks? I hate the first few steps as much as the rest of you. I rarely if ever “feel” like running. But I know I’ll feel good about it in the end, so I show up. But during a hard training or a race, when everything hurts and I’m not making progress and I’m mentally ready to throw in the towel, I pause my thoughts and remind myself I’m here by choice. I’m in this 8-hour race because I have defined that as fun. No one is forcing me to be here. Reminding myself that my participation is non-mandatory helps re-focus my thoughts.
3. Change It Up
This one’s hard for us, creatures of habit that we are, and I’m as guilty as the next person. Since I bike, run and swim I tend to give myself a pass, thinking that of course I’m always mixing up my routines. But I also do Bodypump 2X/week, and last week I skipped it in favor of just hitting some light weights in the weight room. The next day… OUCH. I’d used my muscles in a new way, reminding myself of the value of not doing the same old, same old. If you always run three miles, try running the second one 30 seconds faster. Or run hills instead of flat. Or do pull-ups instead of your usual push-ups. Every workout, do at least one small part a little harder, a little heavier, or a little faster. Small pushes accumulate to make a big difference.
4. Get Your Sleep
Do as I say, and not as I do. On the nights I actually get 7+ hours sleep, I perform noticeably better in my workout and I’m much less hungry throughout the day. One day a week of 8 hours won’t cut it. Better to miss a workout in favor of sleep than to be chronically sleep-deprived.
5. The Power of One
I stole this trick from a book I read and it works like a charm. So often, we don’t train because all we can see is the big picture—it’s going to eat up 40 minutes of my time, I’ll sweat, it will hurt, I don’t feel up to the workout anyway, etc. Okay, so just do one rep of something. Literally. One push-up. One sit-up. One deep-knee bend. You’re only on the hook for one, and if you want to walk away after that, there is no guilt. I use this trick at night when I prefer to slump on the couch in front of the TV versus working out. And sometimes that one rep is all I do. But more often than not, if I’ve rolled myself onto the floor during a commercial to do my one sit-up, I don’t mind banging out a couple more, which often turns into a small ab workout, since I know I can quit at anytime, having reached my goal of “one.” (We are such mental creatures, aren’t we?)
That’s it for now. I hope you can use 1-2 of these tips for motivation in your own workouts. If you find one that works especially well for you, I’d love to hear about it.