Training in the summer and early fall can be a monumental task. It’s hot or suddenly cold, sometimes the weather changes rapidly within a given day, and let’s not forget you’ve been at it for months already. It’s easy to fall into a slump, but I’ve got five ways to help you rejuvenate your motivation and get back out there to kick some butt!
For those of us that follow a periodized training plan year round, we normally hit the outside workouts in April and are now several months into our building and peaking season, if not nearing the end.
Waking up still a little sore from that last workout, needing to snooze that alarm a few times, and feeling ravenous and maybe a bit more cranky than usual are all signs that you have been training hard. And while the finish line may be in sight, it’s impossible to feel ready to rock every workout.
There’s great news though! There are ways you can revitalize your energy and start feeling really good again right now!
Take two to three days completely off training. Yes, you read that correctly. “But Coach!” I hear you say, “Won’t I lose fitness?” Actually, no. You can hit your training hard, and stick to your diet plan perfectly, but if you don’t apply that same diligence to your rest, you will run out of gas.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean it’s time to clean out the garage, pull stumps out of the yard, or rotate the tires on your car – it’s time to relax. So please, with my blessing, take two to three days off and rest up.
During this time, eat to support your daily energy requirement, go to bed early, take naps, stay hydrated, feel free to foam roll and do some mobility work, but take it easy. You will come back recharged.
Add more Omega 3s to your diet by eating cold water wild-caught salmon and other fish. The Omega 3’s help reduce inflammation, and they can really boost your brain activity and help clear up some of that mid-day brain fog and slump that happens. When you are less brain-fuzzed, you’ll have more energy for your next workout.
Keep at least five to six hours between workouts. While there are great benefits to completing a brick workout once a week, stacking workouts on three or four other days often leads to mediocre results.
If you absolutely have to stack two workouts, keep them short and the quality high. Otherwise, respect the purpose and desired adaptation for each workout, and complete them with enough time for your body to recover in between.
A good example of a stacked workout to maximize time and results would be a bike run combo that gets your heart rate up and then lets it recover over and over like in a high intensity interval training session. If you have a solid base, then give this one a whirl:
Bike: Warm up 5 minutes Zone 2 easy pedaling at about 90 rpm. Complete 5 x 30 seconds of spin ups (easy gear, high cadence) to prime your CNS, then proceed with 2 minutes Zone 4 effort at 88-92 rpm followed by a 1 minute Zone 2 recovery, still with a cadence of 88-92 rpm and repeat nine more times. Spin 5 five minutes at a more high Zone 2 to flush some of the metabolic waste, then get off the bike and lace up your runners. (Time elapsed 45 minutes)
Run: Your body is already warmed up from the bike session and ready to go, so we will hit the meat right away. Begin jogging at your maximum aerobic heart rate for 5 minutes so your legs wake up, then accelerate over 20 seconds to your mile pace, recover 1 minute 40 seconds, repeat this four more times, then jog 2 minutes easy to help lower your heart rate back to your recovery heart rate.
When you’re ready to go again, aim for 2 minutes at your goal 10K pace, followed by 2 minutes at your goal 5K pace, and finish off with 30 seconds at your goal one mile pace, recover 3 minutes and 30 seconds by jogging low Zone 2 then repeat the last set of the 2/2/30 and finish this off with at least 5 minutes of easy aerobic running.
If you have time, include another 5 minutes of aerobic walking at the end. (Time elapsed 26 minutes) Women should aim for at least 10 minutes of aerobic running/walking at the end to have a better chance to flush metabolic waste. Men are more efficient and need less cool down (5 minutes minimum), but that’s a topic for another day.
Take naps (my favorite!). They can be 20-minute cat naps, or full blown two-to-three hour sack outs on the weekends.
During the week, a quick cat nap after lunch can completely recharge your brain, giving you more energy and making you ready for the rest of the day.
It may take a few tries to get used to taking naps, but your work and workout productivity will start to soar with this new practice. If naps end up affecting your nightly sleep, then try taking them earlier in the day or investigating why you’re not sleeping soundly. It could be a sign of chronic overtraining.
Complete two to five minutes of meditation. Athletes benefit from daily meditation because it helps improve your focus, and aids in visualization of goal attainment.
Those who meditate proclaim the powers of it are extraordinary for their brains, so how can you get those benefits without sitting for 20 minutes twice a day?
An app called Stop, Breathe & Think provides a great alternative for athletes. It’s free for the basic version on iPhone, and the three minute Mindful Breathing Session is perfect to start with.
Finding three minutes a day to listen with headphones to this app with eyes closed can really increase feelings of calm, control, motivation and relaxation.
It may seem crazy, but taking time to let our bodies and our brains recover and giving them what they need with rest could be just the ticket that will help you feel more motivated for your next workout, and enable you to take your strength and performance to the next level.
Download my bike-run workout here and upload it to your compatible device: