It’s time to put 2016 behind us and enjoy a fresh start for 2017. It’s a new year with new goals and… unfortunately for many of us, new excuses too. You may have already begun working with your coach to choose your target races for the year and develop a training plan for those races. Having a training plan is great. It’s maintaining the motivation to execute those key workouts that can be a challenge as training picks back up after the off-season.
Check out these five tips to help you stick to your training plan when motivation dips.
1. Set a Challenging Goal
The best way to stick with a plan is to be working toward a goal that you are excited and energized about. That goal does not necessarily have to be a race, it could be to lose some weight, better your swim times or just work on a more efficient form. Whatever your goal may be, it is important to have a reason to get out of bed and train. So, make sure you have a goal in place. If the goal is to finish a half marathon for example, make sure it is about four months out to maintain interest and engagement in your progress. Any longer than four months and you might lose interest. If your goal is out further than four months, another key to staying engaged is to set milestones, such as smaller, training races to stay focused on along the way.
2. Find Your Clan
Finding a group or a buddy to train with will keep you accountable and make the time spent training more enjoyable. Look for a local running group as you are bound to find someone who runs a similar pace as you within the crowd. If you are really lucky they might even be training for the same event as you. Slowly you will find your clan, and these like-minded friends will keep you motivated and support you on those days when you need it the most. No one understands a runner more than a fellow runner.
3. Personalized Plans
Make the most of your training time by having a plan that is personalized for you. Whatever you do, don’t waste your time with a generic training plan. You are worth so much more than that— invest in yourself. Non-personalized plans may bore you. Or even worse, they may injure you. Spend time finding a coach who will personalize your training season and help you create a plan for the year. That plan should include a balance of strength conditioning, speedwork and endurance miles. The right plan should take into account your current fitness, goals and any history of injuries. Most importantly it should adjust as you progress and become a stronger and faster athlete.
4. Plan Your Week
No matter how well intentioned you are, something always gets in the way. Set yourself up for success by planning out the week in advance. If you enjoy doing your workouts in the morning, set your stuff out the night before. This will eliminate any excuses and will get you out of the house before you change your mind. If you like to train after work, set a “workout meeting” on your calendar and plan your deadlines so that you are not pushing off your workouts. But, if a spontaneous happy hour is planned, be flexible.
5. Be Consistent and Keep it Fun
Maintaining consistency in your training is crucial. Not only will it keep you on track with the necessary progression towards your goal, but it also plays a huge role in injury prevention. Self-trained athletes often struggle with consistency and end up trying to play “catch-up” with their training. That can quite quickly lead to an overuse injury. Finding just the right balance of consistency and flexibility is an art and can take a while to master. It is important to be flexible or you risk becoming mentally and physically overtrained or burnt out. Each training day should have a specific objective, and if you are unable to accomplish the given objective on a particular day, move it to another day. Your coach should be able to help you adjust as needed.
As you jump back into training and the spring race season rolls around, keep these tips in mind when you need a little jolt of motivation. Stay focused on your end goal but remember to have fun with your training too.You are certain to make lasting memories in the process.