Motivation - Running

Finding your Motivation

When tapering or coming off a big training block, often athletes start to feel a bit “stale” or “flat” and mentally start to question themselves. This  is normal and often just a sign that the body just needs rest.  However, it can also be a warning sign for overtraining/overreaching. I typically find self-coached athletes with a lack of structure in their training are the ones most susceptible to overtraining and this can lead to a rapid decline in their performance if not careful.

Unfortunately, it is common for them not to realize what is happening till they eventually become less and less motivated and start putting off their training. Next thing you know they find themselves trying to cram long training sessions into a few weeks before the race. Sound familiar?

So, how do you prevent this happening to you?  And most important, how do you find internal motivation to keep you going? First start by laying out a plan. Work with your coach to asses your current fitness (or consider getting a coach if you don’t yet train with one), to help determine an optimal timeline to start training for your goal race. This approach will help keep your season manageable and stress free. In the process make sure you are defining clear attainable goals and be realistic with how much time you actually have to train.  Finding a coach you align to set structure and guidance with may be all you need to get on the right path.

I’m not saying this will be easy and you might even find your old self creeping out from time-to-time trying to make excuses. If that happens, below are a few of the excuses I have heard in the past and the techniques which may help you get out the door.

Excuse: Bad day at the office, I’m mentally and physically drained.

Solution: Move your workouts to early mornings. Not only will the cool air feel good, but now you will feel energized the rest of the day and have the evening to relax.

Excuse: I have to watch my kids.

Solution: Get a running stroller, put your bike on a trainer, or have the kids help keep your splits at the track.

Excuse: I get pain and injuries when I workout.

Solution: Have your running form analyzed by a professional to make sure you are in the proper shoes.  Also, incorporate strength conditioning workouts to help in strengthening your body to take on the training load.

Excuse: It’s too dark in the mornings and evenings.

Solution: Get some more gear, try some of the amazing headlamps currently on the market. My personal favorite is the Pezel Tikka RXP a progressive lighting headlamp with the right amount of lighting and light weight. Also invest in a reflective vest, some companies even have LED vest which are comfortable and will keep you safe.

Excuse: I’m SO tired.

Solution: Make a conscious effort to shut the electronics off an hour or so before going to bed, and go to bed early. Read a book…  Ideally you want to get 8 hours of sleep and you definitely have to make this a priority.

Excuse: I’m not good at keeping myself accountable

Solution: Hire a coach who will work with you to build a plan that works for you and your life. Find a local running club or a buddy and sign up for a race together.

Next time you find yourself losing motivation and making excuses, call me. I’ll come up with a solution for you, trust me! : )

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The Build Phase

The inspiration for this post came from a subscriber to my newsletter. The question is in regards to the “Build Phase” of a training cycle; particularly the methodology behind building speed.

Without getting in the weeds; our focus during this phase is to place stress on the body over a specific timeframe and then back off to provide the right amount of rest. Then, repeat this cycle before changing one of those variables in order to allow the body to take on an increased level of stress. This contributes to building a faster athlete. Where this equation becomes complex is how much, how often, and how hard can one push an athlete to get the most out of them before causing harm or injury. Finding that balance and defining the exact tipping point is where most of us fail by either plateauing, or worse, getting injured. With the guidance of a knowledgeable coach and over a few training cycles you are sure to tap into your potential and see gains in your performance by sticking to this plan.

There are many theories and methods used by seasoned coaches. Some use training cycles based on days, weeks or even months to build an athlete. This mostly depends on the athlete’s history, goals, race age and rate of adaptation.  A very common training cycle is three or four weeks. This stems from the time it takes your body to adapt to new training stressors. After three or four weeks of the same stress your body is no longer reaping the maximum benefit and a different stress load should be introduced. So, this is when you will see a few down days to allow the body to fully rest before introducing a higher level of intensity in the next cycle. There are no shortcuts to this, so be cautious when you see a plan which ramps you up too fast.

In a build phase you will see three quality workouts during the week. These workouts will consist of tempo runs, track repeats, intervals and hill/speed work. The rest of the week may include recovery runs or cross-training in order to keep developing the foundation, endurance and volume an athlete needs. Another important and often dismissed component is strength work including flexibility and core. I cannot stress enough how important strength work is for athletes who are in the build phase of a plan. Why? Well you need a strong lower body to support the added stress which building speed places on us, whether it’s running, cycling or swimming. I stress this point in a recent post The Swim.

Given the complexity of a properly executed build phase one should seek the guidance and advice of a coach to get the most of your time training.  This small investment in yourself will not only provide better results but also keep you injury free and training consistently.

If you are interested in coaching or have any questions about your training feel free to reach out at [email protected]