Headsweats Ambassador Mike Shelver shares his insights on effective training in the New Year. For more from Mike, visit his website Trekking with Type 1.
It’s two weeks into the new year! Think back to those resolutions you may have set: morning runs, going to the gym every day, and so on… have they faded? Unfortunately changing our ways, especially when it comes to exercise and training, can be tough. I’ve found that I have the most successful training periods when I achieve consistency while remaining flexible. Here are my tips!
Set a goal
Most of us tend to work harder when there is a goal in mind. You know, the whole “if there’s no goal you can’t score” thing? It applies to training too. What are you training for? Personally, I’ve set a goal of competing in a 50-mile trail race this summer. This means instead of waking up just to run, I wake up to train so I can compete and enjoy my race in 6 months. It keeps me motivated and I’m sure if you set a goal (and aim big) it will keep you motivated to, especially during those hard intervals sessions. Being able to aim for something allows you to structure you’re training more effectively too!
Make a Plan Log it!
Structure sets you up for training success. A training schedule is essential for any athlete, whether you’re a first-time runner or pro. I recommend writing out or using a calendar to plan out a months’ worth of training to start. Make sure to log each workout you complete; it kind of feels like filling out a bingo card and feels super satisfying to see all the workouts you complete. Logging it also provides you with a process report. Am I improving? It’s hard to tell unless you record it! I personally use TrainingPeaks to log my stuff but there are plenty of other options out there. Some fitness trackers like Garmin can auto upload workouts which is super cool. In terms of training plans, there’s tons of info out there but my favorite super easy yet highly effective one for running is the Nike Running App. Set your goal (say a half marathon) and the day it’s on and boom, the app gives you a periodized training schedule so you rock your event.
Start off conservatively and achieve consistency
“Man, I haven’t run in weeks, maybe I should get back to it. Yeah. I’m going to go run today!” Two hours later I arrive back home, absolutely destroyed. The next day I’m too sore to run. The day after I look at my running shoes and just think of the pain I had two days prior. I don’t run again for at least a week. Whatever training effect I got from that run has effectively disappeared.
We tend to push ourselves a little too far when we first start training which can lead to injury but more commonly the “it hurts to move” syndrome, as I call it, that causes most people to stop training for too long of a time period. I like to start off slow, allowing my body to adjust and learn to recover, before I dive into the more intensive and longer duration type training. This easing into it is essential for long term success! When I have taken a long time off I’ll start off training again 3 times a week and will increase intensity and duration until I am up to 5 times a week. Once I’m comfortable with that, I know I can start to really ramp it up. By allowing my body to adjust, instead of running myself into the ground in the first week, I can keep training while also training longer and harder, maximizing long term performance.
Life happens. We miss workouts, we get sick, we lose motivation. It’s okay. In most cases you can include them into the next oncoming weeks. If not, it’s not the end of the world, write it off and keep moving forward. Being flexible helps keep you sane and prevents burning out halfway to your goal.
Keep It Fun
No matter how much you love your sport, there gets to a point where you no longer enjoy the training associated with it. For me, as much as I love running, I get tired of it quickly, especially the dreaded treadmill intervals I do. In order to prevent myself from burning out I dedicate a day each week to some sort of different activity. It can be something vaguely similar (such as Nordic skiing) or something completely different (such as paintball). Doing something other than your specific sport gives you a nice mental break and again, keeps you sane.
The hardest part of all of the above it the first push. I always imagine it similar to pushing a car on an uphill street to get it up your driveway after you’ve left a light on all night and have a dead battery. Not that that’s happened to me or anything… Nevertheless, the hardest part is starting. Once you’ve begun though, things get easier and easier. Eventually you hit cruise control and training become a part of life. Two years ago, each run seemed like a chore. Fast forward and running has become part of my daily routine, and I’ve never felt better. So… Start Now!